One battle the Dawgs can’t lose.

In my humble opinion, one of the big reasons behind Florida’s improvement this season is turnover margin.  Last season, the Gators finished dead last in the conference, at minus-12.  This year, they sit third, at +11.  That’s a helluva swing.

And it matters very much this week, as David Paschall explains.

Georgia has not played a turnover-free game against Florida since 1987, when the Bulldogs defeated the Gators 23-10 in Vince Dooley’s next-to-last season as coach. The Bulldogs have topped Florida only six times since, including three wins in 11 tries under current coach Mark Richt, with turnovers often the primary reason for their undoing.

“We definitely need to take care of the ball,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said this week. “Coach Richt has looked back, and these games really have been decided by turnovers.”

Georgia has committed an astounding 20 turnovers against Florida during the past six series meetings, compared to just seven given up by the Gators. The Bulldogs suffered four turnovers in each of the games from 2008 to ’10, with Murray throwing three interceptions in a 34-31 overtime loss two years ago.

Matthew Stafford was the No. 1 pick in the ’09 NFL draft, but he also had a three-interception debacle in a 49-10 loss to the Gators a few months earlier.

“In the games we’ve really gotten worn out on the scoreboard, we’ve had a lot of turnovers,” Richt said. “Last year, we had some opportunistic plays made where we did get some turnovers that created some momentum for us and helped us win.”

It has been a decade since the Georgia-Florida winner lost the turnover margin.

Georgia hasn’t been bad this season with turnovers.  But it hasn’t been better than average, either.

Avoiding disaster may be the key, though.  As we saw last week, Florida uses turnover margin to leverage its offensive production – 29 yards of first half offense was enough to create 21 points against South Carolina.  The Dawgs have to stay away from those four-minute meltdowns like we saw against Tennessee and make Florida work for points.

14 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

14 responses to “One battle the Dawgs can’t lose.

  1. timphd

    Have a feeling the first offensive possessions of each half will tell the story. If the Dawgs come out focused and poised both times we will be in the whole game. A case of nerves with turnovers and missed assignments early in either half will spell doom. Expect.them to play well overall but they havent shown the ability to shake off mistakes in big games. Of course it wont matter if the defense sleep walks. Heres hoping Shawns presser woke them up!

    • RocketDawg

      I disagree with the fact that they haven’t been able to shake off mistakes and come back. At Missouri we had a few mistakes and were behind in the 3rd quarter and ended up winning by 21 (and for all you naysayers that was a jacked up environment and they were mostly healthy at the time). And vs Tennessee we gave them points to let them back in the game at the end of the 1st half and ended up winning the game. Other than USCe we have played pretty well on Offense this year.

  2. Castleberry

    Do not let Mitchell back deep on kickoffs. My stomach flips whenever he is back there. It’s a risk / reward thing.

  3. Uglydawg

    Overlooked is the Dawgs’ efficeincy at bringing the ball down the field when under pressure from a dwindling clock. At least two or three times, Georgia should go into the two minute offense….it just seems to work so well. At the least it may force UF to use some time outs.

    • Macallanlover

      Agree, we have been good at the 2 minute drill during Murray and Stafford’s time at UGA. I always feel like we can move the ball in that offense. Doing it will risk tiring the defense out but it stops the “check with me” offense and lets Murray make the decisions. Also, unlike a true 2 minute drill you can throw to the middle and use the RBs when the opportunity is there. I know we won’t/can’t do this but like the idea of keeping things up tempo. Murray is prepared enough to play this way, most schools don’t have a QB as good as him, why not take advantage of it?

      • jryuuu

        noticed the same thing as well. during the mizzou, UT, and UK games, we had quick, length of the field drives for crucial scores going into halftime. wish we’d go to it more often..

  4. Gatriguy

    Can’t have negative plays. If we see more than one 2nd and 13, we will get routed.

  5. charlottedawg

    We always have turnovers in this game and last year aside they usually result in 7 for the gators. This year will be no different. Our offense will score at least 7 for the gators most likely with Murray leading the charge. Defense won’t show up and special teams will probably kick in at least one fuck up. I want badly for Georgia to win this game, for the program, for Mark Richt, for Aaron Murray. But it’s a big game against a top 10 team and it’s the gators. Like braves baseball in October I’ve seen this movie many times and I know exactly how it ends. I would LOVE to be completely wrong but I am expecting to see an overmatched unprepared squad wearing red and black on Saturday. If my prediction is incorrect, please feel free to give me shit all week next week, I will happily eat that dish of crow.

    • FtWorthDawg

      charlottedawg, I feel your pain. A group of us have been traveling down to SS Island and Jacksonville for over 25 years together. I moved to Fort Worth 4 years ago and even started taking flights to meet the group down there. At some point 2 years ago we had an epiphany; why do we keep spending ALL THIS MONEY to go down there and watch our beloved DAWGS choke year after year after year. For years we chalked it up to Dawg Nation devotion, taking one for the team.

      This year, most of those same friends that went with me to Jacksonville every year, took their wives to Lexington last week and almost saw our beloved Dawgs get upset by Kentucky. They seem much more gratified by the trip.

      Let me be clear. I what nothing more that for our beloved Dawgs to beat the most hated Gators come this Saturday. I have seen far too many drunk obnoxious a Gator fans dancing in my tailgate after another WLOCP win not to want us to beat them by 35 points. I will only be investing my heart and time (for a while) as opposed to my hard-earned cash.

      • Peteydawg

        Thats funny most gatOr fans I see are down right terrified of talking shit after the game because they see that mean drunken 14 L’s in a row in all our eyes.

  6. Mike

    If any of the Georgia players are “violators”, i.e. players with loose ball security, that will get noticed by the Florida coaching staff and those players will be targeted for strips.

  7. Newt

    Been saying since Sunday morning, turnover margin and (maybe more importantly) points off of turnovers will be the biggest stats Saturday. I think that’s true most weeks, but it’s pretty well documented in this series.

  8. hunkerdowndawg

    TS/Hurricane Sandy looms nearby and the ball will be wet. Not sure who that hurts/helps more. I worry about Murray’s tipped balls being picked off. Killed us against SC. Can’t have that happen in Jax.