I’m leaving for Amelia Island on Thursday morning and won’t be able to blog from that point until I get back on Sunday, so it’s going to be a short week.
Also, look for my first guest post here on Thursday from the guys at Saurian Sagacity about the game (I’ll be reciprocating on their blog, which should be fun). Feel free to comment on what they have to post.
Anyway, what I wanted to start with was an observation that I had sometime during the second quarter of the Florida-Kentucky game. If you look at the drive chart for that quarter, you see that Kentucky dominated time of possession and number of plays, yet still managed to be outscored 7-3. There were two reasons for that. Kentucky wasn’t efficient with its possessions and Florida got Brandon James’ big runback after the ‘Cats FG.
The first big truth we need to face is that it’s going to be up to Georgia’s offense to win the game on Saturday. Sure, it’s going to be easy to point fingers at Martinez if the Gators get some points, but let’s face it, Florida is going to score. The Gators are second in the SEC in points scored and third in total offense – and that after they’ve played the two best defenses in the conference. (The Dawgs are a quite respectable fourth in total defense.)
There are two big reasons why it’s going to be up to Georgia’s offense to win the game. The first is what I’d call the historical one, which Groo has done a nice job of outlining here. The essence is that since 1990, Georgia’s two wins have come in the only two games where the Dawgs have scored more than 30 points.
The second is strategic. Take a look at Sunday Morning Quarterback’s analysis of the Auburn-Florida game. It’s been pretty popular on the Georgia message boards to hold Will Muschamp up as a defensive coaching god since the Florida game, but on a per play and per possession basis, the Gator offense did better against Auburn’s defense than it did against Ohio State’s in the BCS title game.
… UF did not turn the ball over against Ohio State, and turned it over twice against Auburn (though neither set the Tigers up near scoring position) and, more importantly, UF held the ball for more than 41 minutes against OSU, as opposed to 27 minutes Saturday, a difference of almost a full quarter. This was a direct result of the young defense failing to get a previously staggering Auburn offense off the field, as the Tigers controlled 18 minutes and limited Tebow to just 24 plays on three possessions, two of which combined to cover 21 plays, 117 yards and 10:56 of clock time before ending in a blocked field goal and a fumble.
UK actually gave it its best shot at following the Auburn template, and by rights should have been more successful with it (after all, UK is first in the SEC in total offense; Auburn currently ranks tenth), but in the end was done in by its inability to turn huge advantages in number of plays run (at one point the Cats had run twenty three plays in the second quarter to Florida’s three) and time of possession (at that same point, UK had held the ball 10:12 to UF’s 2:21) into more than a three point advantage. And even that came to naught the moment that Brandon James returned the ensuing kickoff.
The lesson to be learned: the best defense is a good offense. A good offense is more than one that holds the ball; it has to cash in.
What helped Florida greatly last Saturday were two things. First, the Gators did not turn the ball over (amazingly enough, considering there were a total of 148 plays on offense, neither did UK) . Second, the Gators sacked Woodson five times. Georgia will have to have things go more favorably in both areas to have a decent shot at winning.
UPDATE: Georgia opens as a nine point ‘dog in Jacksonville.