AN OPPOSING VIEW
ATHENS — When it comes to finding someone to give us an inside look at the Florida Gators, it’s one-stop shopping for us. We always start with Pat Dooley, and when he says yes we’re done.
Miraculously, Dooley said yes again, despite doing this every year since DawgNation started. But he is, as we’ve detailed here before, the ultimate objective authority on Florida athletics. Plus, the price is right. All I have to do in exchange is return the favor by going on his highly-entertaining and wildly popular podcast, Dooley Noted. I highly recommend you check it out. A lot of good stuff this week.
Dooley is a long-time columnist and emeritus sports editor for the Gaineville Sun, where he has worked since 1987. The married father of two daughters had professional stops in Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale before that. He also is a Florida alum, so he knows that school and this rivalry backward and forward.
The View: If you could put your finger on it, could you say there has been one or two things that Dan Mullen has done that has gotten the team turned around so quickly?
Dooley: More than anything, he has convinced the players that he and his staff know what they are doing and if they follow their plan they have a chance to win games. It really started in the offseason when the strength coach Nick Savage worked with them and used a lot of bonding drills to bring a fractured team back together.
The View: So how are the Gators liking new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, and has he had a chance yet to meet Chas Henry?
Dooley: I wrote about it this week. Henry visited the staff this summer and surprised Grantham by walking into the defensive meeting mimicking the choke sign. I talked to Grantham, and he said it was about changing the attitude at Georgia. Henry is cool with what happened (of course, he might not be if he hadn’t made the kick) and said he was excited Grantham is on staff.
The View: What about that Georgia-Florida game last year? Retrospectively, how would you describe the Jim McElwain experience at Florida and what was last year’s game like for you with all the extenuating circumstances?
Dooley: We knew that team might not show up mentally because everything was crazy on the morning of the game. This week, they said McElwain gave them the impression he was gone and they were worried about their position coaches. And it was 21-0 after 7:28 of the game. That team was not going to beat last year’s Georgia team anyway, but those players certainly were not ready to go to battle that day and I don’t think the coaches were either. The thing that stood out to me was the postgame when McElwain started talking about how he hadn’t been able to get offense generated at Florida. That was him trying to negate the argument that he was being fired for anything other than wins and losses.
The View: Kirby Smart called the Gators’ wideouts the best group Georgia has seen all season? Are they really that good or have the Bulldogs just not seen many good ones?
Dooley: They’re better, but hardly elite. Georgia faced some pretty good ones at LSU, but other than that, the Dawgs really haven’t had to go up against great ones. Let’s put it this way — there won’t be a Florida receiver on any of the All-SEC teams. But compared to last year, they are better and certainly better coached.
The View: What is one area in which you believe Florida has a decided advantage coming into this game?
Dooley: Not sure there is one. I think Florida is right there with Georgia in a lot of areas, especially the improved special teams. Florida might have better pass rushers, especially Jachai Polite. The only real advantage is that there is more pressure on Georgia because the season is on the line. Expectations going into the season were much higher. Florida should be the more relaxed team.
PAT DOOLEY’S PREDICTION
I just think Georgia is going to be fired up after the loss and has a better team. Bulldogs, 28-23