David Wunderlich has done an excellent job filtering the Georgia-Florida game through Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning. The entire post is worth your attention, but if you want the tl;dr bullet point version, here ’tis:
- Georgia is far more explosive on offense than is Florida.
- Georgia’s defense is better at preventing explosive plays than is Florida’s.
- Both teams are similar when it comes to offensive efficiency.
- Florida’s defense has been lock down in the fourth quarter.
- Florida has enjoyed better starting field position than has Georgia. (“In a game with 25 possessions, that implies Florida would end up with 75 yards’ worth of field position advantage.”)
- Florida has a turnover advantage.
That field position metric exposes an area of concern (for me, at least) for Georgia that probably hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, the punt game. Georgia is an anemic 75th in net punting. In terms of average, its punt return game has been dynamic. The problem is that the Dawgs have only returned 13 of 40 punts this season. When you consider the weapons Georgia has at the return position, that’s a lot of wasted opportunities.
Add it all up, and it’s easy to visualize each team’s recipe for success. Kirby Smart wants what he got out of his team in its first six games, early leads, which allowed his defense to play conservatively and force the opponent to grind out offense, peppered with the occasional big play that gradually allowed Georgia to pull away.
Florida, on the other hand…
The Gators’ best shot on offense is probably to keep doing what they’ve been doing except against Kentucky: stay on schedule and play the field position game. On defense, they need to avoid giving up the big play against an explosive UGA offense since the Gators are an excellent efficiency defense. That means playing bend-but-don’t-break between the 20s and being judicious with blitzes.
Maybe the biggest factor will be not falling behind early.
In other words, replicate the LSU game plan. David’s conclusion sounds a lot like what Billy Gomila told us leading up to the loss.
LSU didn’t fall behind early, and UGA was not comfortable playing from behind. The Gators’ advantages in efficiency defense and field position mean they’re hard to come back against. With a continuation of their turnover luck in recovering opponent fumbles, Florida can follow a path to victory in Jacksonville. It’ll be hard, but it’s doable.
This is going to be an impose your will contest. Just like the week before, the better focused team is likely your winner.