Boy, Groo really nails a feeling I had watching the first quarter unfold on Saturday.
In 2011, with the weight of Florida’s dominance in Jacksonville still weighing on the program, the Dawgs scored two touchdowns on difficult and risky fourth down passes. Back then it was Mark Richt supposedly coaching for his job, and it showed in the decisions that were made. “I know it was just a ballgame, but it seemed like a lot more than that,” Richt explained. On Saturday the Dawgs faced 4th and at most 3 yards to go on three occasions in the first quarter with field position near midfield or better. They punted twice and attempted a field goal into the wind. And why should they risk it? The last thing you want to do against a struggling offense is to help them out with good field position. If this was the Florida offense and Georgia defense of several weeks ago, it makes sense to take no chances with the offense and wait for the Florida offense to shoot itself in the foot. Florida made the bold and desperate moves this year – at the macro level by changing quarterbacks and the offense as well as the micro level with the fake field goal call. When Florida stepped it up after the fake field goal, Georgia couldn’t muster much of a response either on the field or on the sideline.
You just knew as Richt left so much on the table with his conservative decision making in the first quarter that it was going to come back and bite him in the ass. And it did.
The thing is, doubting Florida’s offensive ability cut both ways. Sure, helping the Gators out with field position is a decision not without risk. But if you’re skeptical they can move the ball anyway, isn’t that also a reason to chance it? This year’s team has responded well to aggressive coaching in several games – a lesson I hope Richt takes to heart as he preps his guys for a pivotal game in Lexington this week.