First (and last) thoughts on the WLOCP

I’m leaving later today to join the caravan on I-95, so I’m getting my say in a day earlier this week.

First, let’s get the obligatory picture out of the way:

Urban Meyer still wishes hed have thought of this first.

Urban Meyer still wishes he'd have thought of this first.

OK, now we can move on to this year.  For the most part, anyway.  Here’s what I see as the keys to this year’s game.

  1. Withstand the early burst. I don’t think the Gators want to answer the Celebration with some sort of stunt of their own.  I think what Meyer and the boys want to do instead is to come out and overwhelm Georgia from the opening kick with offensive speed, special teams and the unfortunate early turnover – something akin to what they were able to accomplish in Knoxville earlier this year.  Georgia can’t be looking up at the short end of a 21-0 score at the end of the first quarter and expect to make that up.
  2. The long drive is your friend. I’m going to say something sacrilegious here:  as much as I love the 68 yard touchdown runs and the long bombs to Green, I’m going to love the fourteen-play, eight plus-minute drives even more this Saturday.  The more Stafford stays on the field, the less Tebow does.  That’s a win-win in my book.
  3. Make the freakin’ tackles. By far the most troubling thing from the LSU game was the shoddy tackling we saw from the defense.  Reshad Jones – I hope – has been frequently reminded this week that kill shots are only fine if they actually bring the ball carrier down.
  4. Sweat the small stuff. Special teams and turnovers.  Florida blocks punts.  Brandon James is the best punt returner Georgia will see this season.  The Gators are +10 in turnover margin.  Georgia needs to avoid losing any of these battles to win this game.
  5. Make Tebow throw the ball to beat you. I suspect the Gator offensive plan is to show the GPOOE™ the runner to open up the run for Demps and Rainey and to sell that funky bend-the-knee play action pass he does well.  The Dawg defense can’t bite on this; job #1 is to get a handle on the Gator running game and dictate when Florida has to throw.  The tackles have to do much better this week than they did against LSU’s Scott.
  6. Take advantage of the Florida secondary. I’m still not convinced they’re world beaters back there.  They haven’t really been tested much this season by an offense that can run and throw, since LSU got run out of the Swamp early and couldn’t stick to a balanced offensive game plan.  Bobo needs to follow up his brilliant game last week with another jewel.

As for the psychology of this game, I think it’s a little overblown, although, in a way, I hope it’s not.  If Florida comes out too geeked up as a result of having the Celebration pushed in its face all week (hell, all year), that could backfire on it.  But the real reason I don’t think it will matter too much is because of an excellent point Paul Westerdawg made here after last year’s WLOCP – by pulling that, Richt essentially wrote a check for this year’s game that this team is going to have to cash.  He’s raised the stakes for his players and I can only hope that he’s using that to get the team ready.  Given the fact that he’s been pushing most of the right buttons this year (except for the Blackout, ugh), I feel pretty good about that.

My bottom line for this week is the same as last week’s.  If both teams show up to play, I think Stafford makes the difference and walks away with his second win in Jacksonville.  And when’s the last time we could say that about a Georgia quarterback?

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “First (and last) thoughts on the WLOCP

  1. kckd

    This guy over at the bleacher report thinks the Gators pass rush on Stafford will make the difference. And he has some bogus stats to back it up.

    “The key factor for Florida, however, might not necessarily be related to the defensive backs, but on how much pressure the Gators can send in Stafford’s direction. The Gators are currently tied for at no. 54 in the nation in sacks on the season with 13, but with a young Bulldog line, that should change.

    Young indeed, the Bulldog offensive line is. With two sophomores and three freshman protecting Stafford, it might be a field day for the Florida pass rush. Georgia has allowed 13 sacks on the season, which is tied for the 13th most in the NCAA.”

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/74994-in-the-trenches-can-florida-stop-matthew-stafford

    Here’s the actual UGA ranking in the SEC with four fewer sacks than reported. No way we rank 14th worst in sacks allowed.

    SACKS AGAINST G No. Yards
    1. Kentucky 8 7 47
    2. LSU 7 8 74
    3. Georgia 8 9 67
    4. Ole Miss 8 10 52
    Florida 7 10 65
    6. Alabama 8 11 82
    7. Tennessee 8 12 84
    8. Vanderbilt 8 14 93
    9. Auburn 8 17 117
    10. Miss. State 8 19 107
    11. Arkansas 8 28 160
    12. S. Carolina 8 30 178

  2. Christian

    Senator – first off be safe driving down.

    Secondly, I think those are all excellent points for this weekend. I loved your quote about CMR “writing the check for this year’s game” – because that is exactly it. I really think repelling any early charge by UF is the key to the game playing out the way our coaches would want.

    That said, the fact is (emotion aside) that both teams are playing very well right now and there is no reason to be overconfident or under-confident. We need to play our best game of the year to win and I think the same holds for them.

    Go Dawgs!!

  3. JasonC

    I will add that I think it would help to get an early CLEAN hit on Percy or cause James/Rainey to fumble. A nice cobwebs hit that hurts, but doesn’t necessarily injure Percy would be great- have him thinking twice instead of instinctively taking off. I don’t mean to head-hunt or specifically injure, but just to rock his world.

    Also, forcing a fumble from one of Florida’s little speedsters could also add to head games for the RB & Meyer.

  4. brad

    I agree on all points, and would add a caveat to #2. Long drives keep the D off the field. I watched the LSU game again Tuesday night and most of the yards/points given up were trash in the 4th quarter. We were flat out gassed because of the success of the offense. I would love to take the opening kick and have a drive like we had against UT in the 4th quarter.

  5. Ally

    I agree with Brad. That first long drive last year was better than the celebration. It was the real punch in the mouth. Remember, we ran on EVERY SINGLE play right down the field on that defense. That alone shocked & embarrassed the hell out of the gaytors – much like it did when Bama did it to us this year. Long drives like that will do more to harm the “psychology” of the turds more than Trinton’s dance moves.

    I hope we get the ball first, instead of deferring to the second half, and ram it right down their throats! Set the tone & the pace from the jump & make the GPOOE play from behind – we all know how well he does playing from behind ;-)

  6. Ally

    “…we all know how well he does playing from behind ”
    um yeah, no pun intended.

    Oh and kckd: seriously let it go dude. The “author” of that article you’ve been fuming over in the last two threads is 14 years old.

  7. If Georgia focuses on long drives, then all they are doing is reducing the number of possessions in the game. That reduces chances for both Stafford and Tebow. The point for Georgia should be to score. Regardless of how long or short their drives are, they have to give the ball back to Florida at the end.

    Trust me, after 13 years of my alma mater having a coach more obsessed with the clock than with scoring points, I’m used to this fallacy.

  8. Auditdawg

    I have to agree with the Senator Michael. Florida’s scored on a lot of quick hitters this year. Face it, Florida’s going to get their points. The key is to minimize the possessions they have so they to make them count. What we can’t do is turn into red zone turtles again and come away with 3 points.

  9. Ally

    You guys seem to forget we had quick strikes in last year’s game, in addition to the long drives. Remember Stafford to Mo Mass – the 84 yard strike for a TD. That drive was 2 plays and 59 seconds. That was right after Tim Teblow’s 3 play drive in 1:15 for a TD in the first quarter.

    We’re quite capable of both the long drive and the quick strike.

    No one’s saying we need to focus ONLY on a long drive, we’re just saying that it was and will still be important for this game as well.

  10. Ally

    And Audit to call Michael a “senator” is laughable at best. He’s no senator, especially when it comes to UGA sports.

  11. ArchDawg

    I believe it was supposed to read “Senator, Michael” in auditdawg’s post–referring to the Senator of Blutarsky fame.

  12. Auditdawg

    Ally, that was a typo on my part. I meant to have a comma in there.

  13. Joe

    Senator the last time a we had a QB who walked away 2-0 vs. them was Greg Talley 1988-1989. That is right before SOS went on his tear…hmmm.

  14. Pingback: The Obligatory Crybaby Gator Post « Obi’s Sister

  15. AceG8tr

    Dear Georgia Bulldogs:

    We implore you–please don’t call a blackout for today’s game. It’s veeeery scary to see all those black jerseys, and we’re afraid we won’t play very well if you do. Please, please don’t call a blackout. *Anything* but a blackout!

    Signed,

    The Florida Gators, coached by Br’er Rabbit

  16. Not exactly the type of game that stops the GPOOE talk.

    See ya next year.

  17. So, what’s all this talk about who has the better quarterback?

    I saw only one worth mentioning today. Maybe you saw him — five TDs. Pretty good.

    How many did the other guy get?

  18. KG

    How did the game play to Blutarsky’s keys?

    1 Georgia did a good job of staying in the game early. It was only a 14 -3 game at the half and could have easily been 14-6 or 14-9.

    2 Georgia did have some long drives in the first half they were unable to convert them into points. Georgia had success between the 20s but couldn’t punch it in for TDs and then ended up either turning the ball over or missing field goals. UGAs drives usually had some big plays, there weren’t any real grind it out 8-9 minute drives

    3 I didn’t think Georgia did a bad job of tackling. They kept Rainey and Demps well in check. Only Moody late in the game is the only one who seemed to break many tackles. It was usually the space before getting to the defense where Florida gained it’s yards. That was either due to good blocking or Bulldog misalignment defensively.

    4 Florida didn’t have any big plays on special teams minus the recovery of Georgia’s surprise onside kick. On the punt downed at the two yard line, Stafford drove UGA to the 30 before throwing the pick to Haden. Florida also kicked the ball out of bounds after their second touchdown setting Stafford up in great position to score before the half (although the FG hit the upright). The turnover margin was the biggest factor here. Georgia gave away 4 possessions while giving the Gator offense great starting field position 4 times.

    5 Florida was abe to stay balanced and run and pass effectively. This kept the 3rd downs short and manageable. The run was used to set up the pass. Florida was very balanced statistically. Take away Moody’s late 71 rushing yards and Georgia didn’t get gashed by Florida’s running game but it was effective enough to keep them off balance.

    6 Florida’s secondary has been the strength of the team all season and showed it again today. Stafford had some success today but it wasn’t because there wasn’t good coverage, it was because of great throws by Matt and great catches by his receivers. Unfortunately when you throw into coverage you have to be perfect and on the times the ball wasn’t perfect Florida made Georgia pay. On the plus side this was probably the best secondary Stafford will face the rest of the season.

    On the whole, mistakes and turnovers doomed the Bulldogs. They flipped the self-destruct switch early and you could see the team start to have that “Uh-oh, here we go again” attitude where error compounds error and defeatism feeds upon itself.

    I think Stafford is the best passer in the league and is the best pro prospect QB in the country (with Josh Freeman second and Graham Harrell third). But in college a dual threat QB puts more pressure on the defense and is a more effective combination than someone who excels in just one of the categories (aka Colt McCoy is more dangerous than Sam Bradford or Pat White because he can make more plays with either his feet or his arm).