The No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 2 Florida Gators met up once again in Jacksonville, FL at the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”.
The game itself was anything but a party, in fact, it was actually more of a well, dog fight considering what was at stake. Florida was playing for a spot in the SEC championship game. Georgia, on the other hand, was playing for the opportunity to, as CBS analyst Verne Lundquist said all game long, “control its own destiny.”
The Georgia Bulldogs did just that in a gut-wrenching 17-9 victory. It wasn’t pretty but here is the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Georgia Defense.
Truthfully, both defenses played well but it was good to finally see Georgia play at their potential on defense. This is a defense that was expected to be one of the best in the country this season and they have been anything but…until today.
All-American Jarvis Jones and the ‘Dawg defense responded to being called “soft” by fellow teammate Shawn Williams earlier in the week. Jones certainly did his part on the day, notching 12 tackles, 3 sacks, forcing two and recovering two fumbles.
There were tons of hard hits throughout the game and most of them were laid by Georgia’s defense. They were aggressive against the run, which was considered the strength of the Gator offense coming in. Georgia’s defense also applied plenty of pressure against the pass and forced Florida QB Jeff Driskel into numerous fumbles and turnovers.
Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist.
The guys don’t get enough attention for their one-liners during their game coverage and they never disappoint when covering the Georgia/Florida games. When the Gator’s center botched a snap, Gary Danielson said, “Driskel must have a soft touch” to which Lundquist replied, “I’m not touching that.”
The Florida Offense.
Florida came in with a rushing attack that was ranked tenth in the nation. Against a surprisingly motivated Georgia defense, the Gators were only able to muster a measly 81 yards rushing.
Jeff Driskel, Florida QB
Driskel who completed 14 of 26 passes for 185 yards. Sounds like a fairly solid day right? Wrong. Here’s the rest of his stat line: two interceptions, three fumbles and five sacks. Driskel had a rough day and looked really bad at times out there. But let’s be for real here, did we really think the Gators were going to be able to “run” their way to a chance at a national title? The Georgia defense proved that Florida will only go as far their passing game will take them. Hopefully, they will fix that by the time they play in-state rival Florida State.
This was an ugly game not because of the style of play but because of a gazillion penalties garnered by both teams on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs won this game despite tallying up 14 penalties worth 132 yards. The Gators were not far behind though with 10 of their own totaling 95 yards. However, late penalties during crucial moments in the fourth quarter actually ended up costing Florida the game.
With close to seven minute remaining in the final period, Florida was called for a holding penalty on third down. The end result was Aaron Murray connecting with Malcolm Mitchell, both of which had ugly moments of their own, for a touchdown that all but sealed the Gators fate. Another costly penalty was a 15 yard face mask penalty called on the Gators with 1:58 remaining that allowed Georgia to go ahead and take a knee thereafter.
Florida turned the ball over all day long. However, the one that brought tears to the Florida faithful’s eyes was Jordan Reed, arguably Florida’s best offensive player being stripped by Jarvis Jones as he neared the goal line. It was not only because it was the deciding play but because Reed was a mismatch that went unexposed by the Gator offense all day long until it was too. In the end, CBS analyst Gary Danielson put it best saying it was, “Their [Florida] best player [Reed] with the football and their [Georgia] best player [Jones] makes the better play.”
All Georgia has to do now is beat Ole Miss and hapless Auburn and they’ll secure a spot in the SEC championship game for the second consecutive year.