The recent track record of the Cocktail Party — the game, that is, not the weekend — suggests strongly that the team the runs the ball best, wins. Georgia is better than Florida this season at running the ball and stopping the run, so the Gators have to hope they can buck the trend with the passing game.
The question is, can they? At The Athletic, Will Sammon ($$) suggests they can.
But the one Florida probably must win in order to defeat the Bulldogs is its consistent passing attack versus a defense that has allowed just 5.4 yards per pass attempt. And there is a reasonable chance it will.
He bases that in part on Georgia’s pass defense’s vulnerability to the big play. His evidence for that strikes me as a little weak.
Georgia surrendered big pass plays to Tennessee and South Carolina. On throws 15-plus yards downfield against Georgia, South Carolina was 1-for-2 for 46 yards and Tennessee was 3-for-10 for 127 yards, per Sports Info Solutions.
That doesn’t look like a lot. And that impression is borne out by Georgia’s first-place ranking in the SEC in allowing passing plays over 10+ yards and 20+ yards against FBS opponents this season. The Tennessee 73-yard TD pass he cites is the only pass play of 50+ yards Kirby Smart’s defense has allowed.
Sammon does post a chart that indicates a key personnel issue for Saturday, though.
Notice the YPA averages for Tyson Campbell and D.J. Daniel. Then notice the target/completion ratios for the two. Based on this, you should assume Kirby’s already noticed:
Based on that, I’m anticipating two things tactically come Saturday. One, when he’s out there, Florida is going to do everything it can to target Mark Webb in pass coverage. And, two, I expect to see more of Florida’s third leading rusher, one Emory Jones, who’s averaging over six yards per rushing attempt, at the quarterback spot.
It’s a huge game for both teams and both coaches are going to be pulling out all the stops to win. In particular, Mullen showed a kitchen sink game plan on offense for LSU and I doubt he’s gonna pull back this week.