Take Five Breakdown: Florida-Georgia Preview

Oct 28, 2021 | 0 comments


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This Saturday in Jacksonville, Dan Mullen’s Florida football squad takes on No. 1 Georgia, looking to rebound after a 4-3 start to the season. 

Inside the Gators has the very latest on the match-up in this Game Week Breakdown.

Allen Barney spoke with Drew Hubbard of The Red & Black, Georgia’s student newspaper, for answers to five burning questions as well as previewing five UGA players Gator fans should keep an eye on this weekend.


Five Georgia Bulldogs to keep an eye on

Zamir White, Running Back, Junior

  • The Skinny: Georgia has a stable of talented running backs but White is the starter and has made the most plays in the run game in 2021. White leads the Bulldogs with 83 carries, 406 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. While White will not get the 20 carries because of the depth at the position, he can make an impact and break a long run at any moment. For example, White scored on a 75-yard run on the opening play of this matchup in 2020. White will lead the charge as the Bulldogs look to run the ball and wear down the Gator defense.

Jordan Davis, Defensive Line, Senior

  • The Skinny: Nobody can talk about the dominating Bulldog defense without mentioning Davis in the first sentence. Davis is a mammoth of a man at 6-foot-6-inches and 340 pounds, he can take up two blockers and still create pressure on the opposing quarterback. Former Georgia alum David Pollack called Davis “the most dominating player in college football” and he has lived up to the hype in 2021. “His numbers don't jump out at you, but he takes up so many blocks so the linebackers can get to the ball quick and easy.”, Hubbard said.

Adam Anderson, Outside Linebacker, Senior

  • The Skinny: Another dominant force on the defense for Georgia, Anderson roams on the edge and can support in run defense the few times an opposing tailback gets through the line. Anderson was on the pre-season watch list for the Butkus Award and for good reason. He uses his 6-foot-5 frame to speed rush the quarterback and has put up good numbers so far with a team-high 4.5 sacks and is tied for fourth on the team with 25 tackles. I would expect Anderson to consistently rush Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson from the edge in passing situations and be the first line of defense if a run play gets to the second level.

Brock Bowers, Tight End, Freshman

  • The Skinny: The true freshman from California has come across the country and fit right into the SEC football thunder dome. Bowers leads the Dawgs with 25 receptions, 416 yards, and six touchdowns despite the pre-season predictions of blue-chip recruit Darnell Washington taking over at the position. To the fortune of Bowers, Washington has dealt with injuries all season and has not made an impact and opened the door for Bowers. According to Hubbard, Bowers does not have to feel the constant pressure to perform because of the amount of talent and depth around him, which has allowed him to play pressure-free as a true freshman. Not many people expect Georgia to throw it around the yard like Matt Stafford or Aaron Murray did back in the day, but Bowers will be Stetson Bennett’s primary target when they do air it out.

Jalen Carter, Defensive Lineman, Sophomore

  • The Skinny: Carter is the one player who has benefitted the most from Davis taking on so much attention. Carter leads the Dawgs with six tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hurries to go along with 2.5 sacks. When Davis takes on two blockers, I would expect Carter to lead the way in getting pressure to the Gator quarterbacks. Carter got his first start of his college career against Florida in 2020 as a true freshman.

Five Fast Facts

 

  • Georgia holds the advantage in the all-time series at 53-44-2 but Florida doesn’t count the Bulldogs’ 1904 victory in Macon and thus lists the series record as 52-44-2.
  • For the first time since 2017, this will not be a matchup of two top 10 teams as the Gators are unranked and 4-3 overall. The Bulldogs are the top-ranked team in the AP and Coaches’ Poll for the third consecutive week. The last time they were ranked #1 in both polls was the 2008 pre-season.
  • Kirby Smart is 3-2 against the Gators as the Georgia head coach and is 7-1 after a bye week during his tenure. The Bulldogs are 45-1 under Smart when they allow less than 20 points. Smart’s most difficult month is October as he carries a 13-6 record, he has not lost more than three games in any other month.
  • Georgia leads the nation in scoring defense at 6.6 points per game and has only allowed four touchdowns through seven games in 2021.
  • The 46 points given up through seven games is tied for the lowest total in school history with the 1971 team. They lead the SEC in redzone defense, and their 208.4 yards allowed per game is the best in the FBS division.

Five Game Day Storylines

How big of a role does revenge play for the Bulldogs after their 44-28 loss to the Gators derailed their SEC championship and playoff aspirations in 2020?

  • Georgia enters this game as the clear favorite because of their upward trajectory paired with the slow downfall of a once-promising season for the Gators. This rivalry has created this storyline for years as the Gators have knocked off higher-ranked Georgia teams in the past (2005, 2014). Smart has downplayed this topic recently, Hubbard said, “Kirby said there isn't, but I personally find that hard to believe. Everyone knows that this is one of the biggest and best rivalries in college football, and anytime Georgia loses to Florida, it's a big stain on the season.”

Will Kirby Smart keep the foot on the gas if the Bulldogs get up by a big margin?

  • There is no love lost between Smart and Dan Mullen, in years past we have seen the two coaches trade subliminal barbs about each other’s programs. In one of the most famous moments in this rivalry’s history, former Georgia head coach Mark Richt sent his entire team on the field when they scored on the first drive in 2007 edition. Former Gator head coach Urban Meyer returned the favor by using all his timeouts in the last minute of a lopsided Gator victory in 2008. There have not been any on-field moments like this between Smart and Mullen…. yet. Personally, I do not think Smart would do anything like that, but it will be interesting to see if maybe he uses a timeout late or airs it out if Georgia has a big lead.

What will happen with the Georgia quarterback situation on Saturday?

  • Heading into the season, the Georgia fan base pushed the narrative that JT Daniels was going to be a Heisman candidate and lead a lethal air-it-out attack on offense. Due to injuries and the improved play of Stetson Bennett, Daniels has only played in three games and thrown five touchdown passes. According to Hubbard, nobody really knows what Smart will do with the QB’s because he has said that it depends on how the two players look in practice. All signs point to Daniels being healthy but Smart could be playing strategy and not showing his hand, which is like what Mullen is doing with Richardson and Jones. I would not be surprised if both teams use a quarterback rotation on Saturday.

What makes this edition of the Georgia defense so productive and different from everyone else?

  • There are stars all over this defense with Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, Adam Anderson, Kelee Ringo, Nolan Smith, Travon Walker, Nakobe Dean, Devonte Wyatt, Quay Walker, and others making an impact at each level. Most of these guys were highly rated recruits and their talent has translated nicely at the college level through coaching and experience. What cannot be understated is the amount of experience the group has as Carter and Ringo are the only starters or contributors that are not either a junior or senior. The remaining key players have seen it all during their college careers and played in huge games, so they are not rattled easily, and the game has slowed down for them.

Will Georgia need to rely on the passing game to move the ball and who could play a key role at the receiver position?

  • The running back position is set with Zamir White and James Cook while Brock Bowers leads the way at tight end. The one position that has taken a lot of criticism for underperforming at times over the past couple of years is the receiving core. With George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock still recovering from injuries that have not allowed them to play this year, other players have had to step up. Ladd McConkey leads the receivers with 17 receptions, 295 yards, and two touchdowns. Jermaine Burton has played well with 224 yards and two touchdowns but is dealing with a groin injury and Smart said he is “hopeful to be 100 percent” for Florida. If Burton is not able to go, the Bulldogs will look to Adonai Mitchell and Kearis Jackson (scored a touchdown vs Florida in 2020) to fill in behind McConkey. It will be interesting to see if Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken will continue to lean heavily on the run game.

Game Prediction

Georgia 51, Florida 17

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