Fans of Georgia SHOULD be concerned with the game this weekend. As I’ve said all week, I’m hoping for blood, but I’m expecting a battle. The last few seasons have been full of hatred and hard-hitting games.
In 2011, Florida had 14 penalties for 106 yards. Georgia had 4/22. In 2012, Florida was 10/92 and Georgia was 14/132. Last year, Florida had 7/70 and Georgia was 6/45. There have been a lot of penalties in recent games, so expect intensity.
I was watching the end of the last three games on YouTube yesterday, and something stuck out to me. Georgia had the ball last to milk the clock in all three victories. And in each of the final drives from the last three games, when the game was on the line, Florida had penalties to help move the chains. Undisciplined play and bad offense. The hallmark of a Will Muschamp team.
People say that past performance does not necessarily predict future results. But I think looking at the past and trends give you an idea of what to expect.
These games are always tough. When Georgia had a superior team, as has been the case many times in recent years, Florida has won more often than not. When Florida had a superior team, Georgia has kept it close. The 2001, 2007, 2008, and 2009 games are the only games in the Richt era the Cocktail Party has been decided by more than a touchdown.
In 2002, Florida won by 7. 2003, Florida by 3. 2004, UGA by 7. 2005, Florida by 4. 2006, Florida by 7. 2010, Florida by 3 (OT). 2011, UGA by 4. 2012, UGA by 8. 2013, UGA by 3. In these 10 games, the average margin of victory by either team has been 5 points.
I can tell you a couple of reasons to be afraid of this game, and I just have to look back to previous Florida games as to why we should be concerned.
Think back to the 2005 game. Georgia’s best offensive weapon was hurt and unable to play in the game. Georgia would have won that game had D.J. Shockley played. But, he didn’t, and Georgia’s offense only managed 10 points.
In 2005, Florida used their bye week to incorporate new wrinkles in their offense. Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen came out with a fullback and tight end, and completely caught our defense off-guard. What happened? Florida scored two touchdowns and held on to win.
This year, Florida will bring a new starting QB in and you have got to think Treon Harris will be armed with some wrinkles and tricks up his sleeve. Florida’s defense is legit and will make it difficult to score on them. If their offense gets a spark with a new QB…
After the heartbreak of 2005, it was expected that Georgia would take a step back and be in rebuilding mode in 2006. The 5-0 start and top 10 ranking was deceiving, and Tennessee exploited the Dawgs on prime time TV. The next two weeks after the humiliation of getting hammered by Tennessee, Georgia lost to Vanderbilt and barely hung on to Mississippi State. The Dawgs entered Jacksonville humiliated, wounded, and starting a true freshman QB. Though darker days would be in the future, at the time this was the most adversity Coach Richt had faced while he was in Athens.
The Gators on the other hand were a top 10 team looking to bigger aspirations.
Georgia played an inspired game, and lost by a touchdown.
Of course in 2009, a superior Gator team had their way with a hapless Georgia team.
So this game really is Will Muschamp’s Waterloo, much like it was for Coach Richt in 2011.
If the Gators buy in to their coaching staff and circle the wagons for Muschamp, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will go as we have seen many times in the past. If the players quit, then we should see a similar game to what happened last time Georgia played a beleaguered coach while they were marching on to higher goals.