By Guest Contributor Andrew Hall
The Georgia-Florida rivalry is so intense that the annual tilt in Jacksonville has its own Hall of Fame. How many contests can say that? This year, Georgia legends Aaron Murray and Boss Bailey will be inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame along with Alex Brown and Percy Harvin from Florida. These honorees join some of the most prestigious names in college football history: Herschel Walker, Tim Tebow, Charley Trippi, Steve Spurrier and Vince Dooley to name a few.
But this rivalry is more than just big-name players making big-time plays. Sure, many Bulldog loyalists may remember the magic of 1980 like it was yesterday and undoubtedly they can recite Larry Munson’s famous “Run Lindsay!” call in their sleep. (Notably, Both Buck Belue and Lindsay Scott are members of the aforementioned Hall of Fame.) But how many Dawg fans recall unsung heroes like Nat Hudson?
Hudson, a native of Rome, Ga., played offensive line for Georgia before a brief stint in the NFL with the Saints and the Colts. One could argue that he should be inducted in the Hall of Fame’s next class. After all, if 1980 was Georgia’s most magical season, that win over Florida was the Dawgs’ most iconic game and “Belue to Scott” may be the greatest play in Bulldog football history. That play, many forget, was made possible by a crucial pick-up by Nat Hudson.
Before the cries of “Run Lindsay,” Munson actually exclaims, “Got a block behind him!” That block came from Hudson and it gave a scrambling Belue just enough time to continue rolling out to his right. Seconds later he hit Scott with a pass and a footrace to the endzone ensued.
So what current Bulldogs could be unsung heroes on Saturday? The big names—Jake Fromm, Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift, Mecole Hardman, Deandre Baker, etc.—don’t really fit the bill. To an extent, they’re expected to shine. But how about these three Dawgs?
Center Lamont Gaillard is a stalwart on the offensive line for Georgia. The one-time defensive line recruit has emerged as one of the best interior linemen in all of college football. If the Bulldogs have a big day on the ground, Holyfield and Swift will surely steal the headlines, but Gaillard will pave the way. Further, if there is any back-and-forth at the quarterback position between Fromm and true freshman Justin Fields, the continuity offered by Gaillard will be crucial.
Defensive lineman Jordan Davis, a freshman from Charlotte, came on strong against LSU. He may not put up eye-popping numbers in the form of sacks or turnovers forced, but the 320-pounder knows how to plug holes and get defensive penetration. If Georgia gets back to stopping the run it will because of stout play from guys like Davis and it may show itself in the form of big numbers for the Bulldogs’ linebackers.
Recently, this rivalry has featured some fairly ugly games. Six of the past seven Georgia-Florida games have seen fewer than 50 points scored, and both teams have found ways to win without finding the endzone all that often. Georgia won three-straight contests from 2011-2013 without ever scoring more than 24 points. Florida won in 2015 and 2016 with 27 and 24 points respectively. If this is a low-scoring, physical contest, field position may be a deciding factor and freshman punter Jake Camarda may be the ultimate x-factor.