Coach Martinez’s unit has the talent to stop Florida’s less than impressive offense this weekend on the banks of the St. John’s River. Will they? I am not sure.
But the impossible can happen, and stranger things can happen. Arkansas, who has a worse defense than we do (something they have worked very hard at), was able to contain Florida’s offense. LSU held Florida to 13 points. Mississippi State’s defense held Florida in check. Since the Kentucky game, against legitimate competition, Florida has only scored ~21 points per game. Of course, with a defense as good as what they have (14 ppg last three games), your offense only needs to score twice.
Coach Martinez has actually held Coach Meyer’s offense in check. Both arrived to their respective positions in 2005. Here is a break down of how many offensive points Florida has scored against a CWM led defense:
2006-14 points (21 points scored-7 was a Kregg Lumpkin fumble that was recovered for TD)
2007-23 points (30 points were scored-7 was a Matthew Stafford pick six)
I think most UGA fans, even Coach Martinez’s biggest detractors, cannot blame all 49 points in 2008’s beat down to our defense. There were many crucial turnovers in the second half that gave Florida the ball inside our ten yard line, not to mention the failed onsides kick that set up Florida with great field position. The bottom line for last year’s game: it was 14-3 at halftime and UGA should have had the lead. The offense failed inside the red zone and we missed FGs.
The point is, we remember last year’s game and forget that we can hang with Florida. With the exception of 2001, 2006 and 2008, the years we have lost we have carried more talented teams to Jacksonville. Florida, with inferior talent and coaching, has beaten us. Why can’t we beat them?
The key to the 2009 Cocktail Party is not if our defense is capable of stopping Florida’s offense. It will be whether or not our offense can put any points on the board against on of the best defenses in the country. In 2007 our defense held Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and stud Percy Harvin in check. However, our offense was able to: a) ground out the clock and play physical ball with Knowshon rushing for 188 and b) Stafford was able to make big time passes to both Massaquoi and Mikey Henderson.
In 2007 we had the offensive firepower to fire a cannon ball back at the Gators. This year, aside from A.J. Green, we really don’t have that same kind of pop.
PWD pointed out keys to making our offense successful. I agree with his advice. My key is this: no turnovers. Florida is too good to give them ball on our 40. If we do that, it won’t be a close ball game. If we are able to run the ball without fumbles, and can pass the ball effectively down field without throwing interceptions, we can at least flip the field and help our defense out. A key special teams play or two to give us good field position could take the pressure of Joe Cox and help him make plays easier.
Some talk this week as to why Tebow is struggling is because he is pressing and doing to much. For the love of Munson, please don’t put Joe Cox in a position to make him feel like he has to press and make all the plays. If he starts forcing throws into tight coverage, what happened in the 3rd quarter last year will continue on this year.
We are the University of Georgia. We have talented players on our roster. We still have a couple of talented coaches on our staff, don’t we? There is no reason why we can’t show up to play in Jacksonville. Will we beat the Gators? I didn’t think we had a prayer in 2007 but this is a rivalry game and stranger things have happened. But just because we are down in the dumps is no reason to write off our chance, albeit a small one, of victory.