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UGA football prepares for wet weather
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could be sloppy this season, and I’m not just talking about the fans. Although the chances have diminished in the last day according to forecasts, there is a possibility of rain this Saturday in Jacksonville. According to weather.com as of Tuesday night, there’s a 10 percent chance of precipitation Saturday afternoon and 50 percent chance Saturday night. That’s down from a forecasted 20 percent in the afternoon and 80 percent at night earlier this week. (Check here for the current weather status.)
Rain or not this weekend, Georgia will be prepared. According to Seth Emerson of DawgNation, the Bulldogs practiced with a “wet ball” Tuesday, dipping the ball into a bucket of water before passes to simulate playing in the rain. But Georgia coach Kirby Smart said that was a normal part of the practice routine and not done specifically in preparation for this weekend.
“I’ll be honest with you. We do ‘wet ball’ every other week,” Smart said in his Tuesday press conference. “That’s in our rotation. We don’t ever go three weeks without doing ‘wet ball.’ It’s in the rotation. So it’s just what we do. Y’all have seen it before. We do it because we’re eventually going to play with a wet ball.”
That doesn’t mean Smart isn’t keeping an eye on the weather. He just isn’t letting it change his team’s preparation.
“Jacksonville is historically a windy place, and there is a chance of rain, so you’re always on top of it,” he said. “But I don’t think it dictates a lot to you because you’re going to do what you do. You’ve got to play with whatever conditions are there, and so do they.”
Georgia is keeping the smack talk in the buildup to the game one-sided this season. Shots were fired by the Gators Monday when one Florida player took a run at Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and another said the Bulldogs “can’t beat Florida.” When pressed on the Gators’ comments Tuesday, J.R. Reed and Lorenzo Carter didn’t return the volley. From Emerson:
“That’s Florida. That’s what you expect from some teams,” Reed said. “Some teams you don’t expect it. But it doesn’t bother me that much.”
So you do expect that from Florida, Reed was asked?
“No,” Reed said, laughing. “It’s just trash talk. It’s no big deal.”
Georgia senior linebacker Lorenzo Carter also shrugged it off, at least publicly.
“I mean a little bit of it gets back to us. But at the end of the day nothing you say is going to affect the outcome of the game,” Carter said. “So we just try to keep preparing the way we’ve been preparing, and let our football and let our helmets do the talking.”
Even though the Georgia players aren’t saying much, their quiet confidence is saying a lot.
Florida’s run game would be key to an upset
A lot has been made of Florida trying to beat Georgia with the deep ball a la Missouri. But worrying about the Gators beating Georgia deep is overcomplicating things. While relying on the deep ball works in theory for the Gators, it probably doesn’t work as well in practice. As Senator Blutarksy of Get The Picture noted, Florida is 116th nationally in passes of 20 or more yards. Missouri is 17th. Add in that Feleipe Franks is 25 percent on passes of more than 20 yards and the possibility that Tyrie Cleveland misses the trip to Jacksonville, stopping the deep ball should be low on Smart and Georgia’s list of concerns.
Stopping Florida’s run game is a different story. As Ian Boyd of Saturday Down South noted in this breakdown, Florida’s chances of success will rely heavily on doing what no one has been able to do this season: Run the ball effectively against the Bulldogs.
The Gators have a diverse run game designed to give them answers for multiple opposing fronts. If they can move the point of attack successfully — and avoid running at Georgia’s best run defenders and letting the Dawgs fly downhill to the ball — then they can try their normal tricks of playing things close and hoping to come out ahead in the fourth quarter.
Read Boyd’s analysis of what the Florida run game must do to beat Georgia here.
Kirby Smart on the disadvantages of playing is Jacksonville
Pretty much every Georgia fan has an opinion on whether they would rather see the WLOCP kept in Jacksonville or moved to a traditional home-and-home between Athens and Gainesville. That includes Smart, who gave a coaches perspective on the choice of venue for this rivalry game. From Anthony Dasher of UGASports.com:
“I think it is what it is. The biggest disadvantage to me is the recruiting aspect. I’ve always said you lose a great opportunity once every other year, and you figure in your state you’re going to have a hundred top players,” Smart said. “Every four years they’re in high school, there’s two opportunities to bring them to a big game, to an environment that would be second to none. You lose that opportunity. You don’t get that opportunity. They also lose that opportunity. So, the both of us, if anything, that’s the impact. I don’t think it’s an impact on the outcome of the game. I don’t think it’s an impact on anything other than the fact you lose an opportunity, a good chance to recruit prospects and have them on your campus.”
Dawgs on Twitter
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) October 24, 2017
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Watch your butts.
Wrong spot lil buddy 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hhEFMZIfvI
— Cute Emergency (@CuteEmergency) October 24, 2017
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