Florida is looking to make it three in a row against rival Georgia on Saturday in Jackonsville, Fla.
The No. 14 Gators (5-1, 3-1) have dominated the last two games in the series and are favored this year against the Bulldogs (4-3, 2-3), who are coming off a loss to Vanderbilt.
Chip Towers covers the UGA program for Dawg Nation and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and gives us a closer look at this Georgia team.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident do the Georgia coaches and players seem this week?
“They ‘seem’ about a 10, based on what they’re saying in interviews. But it sounds a little rehearsed and disingenuous to me. I’d say in reality it’s got to be more about a 5. I mean, what’s there to be confident about, especially when you break it down to specific matchups. Granted, Georgia is two or so plays from being 6-1. But they’re also close to having two more defeats, with narrow victories of Missouri and Nicholls State, for gosh sakes.”
2. With some starts under his belt and a bye week to prepare, how will Jacob Eason fare against Florida’s secondary?
“Good question, and an important one in this game. It doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to figure out that the Gators are going to sell out against the run and force the young freshman to try to beat them with his golden arm. If the Bulldogs are unable to establish the rush, I suspect that Florida secondary would feast. I can’t see many one-on-one matchups UGA receivers would win. That said, Eason is always good for one two deep connections. And as aggressive as Florida plays, I imagine the Dogs might hit on one or two big plays. But not enough.”
3. How might Kirby Smart’s history with Jim McElwain help him and the UGA staff defend the Gators?
“Kirby’s pretty straight forward and honest when it comes to answering questions, and I buy his ansswer on this one — no advantage. Whatever he knows about McElwain and Nussmeyer, they know about him as well. It cancels out. And, at the end of the day, football in the SEC is less about tricking and out-foxing and more about winning matchups. Coach Mac has his players and Smart has his. Most of us would take Mac’s.”
4. What is Georgia’s biggest strength and weakness on offense?
“Real easy one here. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both elite talents at tailback. Each of them was a 5-star-rated recruit and both of them have played up to that in the past. The problem is the biggest weakness. Georgia’s revamped offensive line has been one of the biggest disappointments in the SEC this year. Everybody knew losing tackles John Theus and Kolton Houston was going to be tough. Nobody expected the drop off to be this precipitous.”
5. What is Georgia’s biggest strength and weakness on defense?
“Coming into the season the Bulldogs’ secondary was expected to be the defense’s biggest strength, with four of the five starters coming back from a team that led the nation in pass defense in 2015. But that stat from last year proved an aberration as they played a lot of run-oriented teams a year ago. And that unit has gone from being ranked No. 1 in the SEC against the pass, to No. 14 seven games into the 2016 season. Conversely, they’re very good on the defensive line, albeit very young. Ten of the 11 who rotate in and out in droves are freshmen and sophomores. The upside of the down-linemen is very encouraging for the future.”
Prediction: Gators win 23-13.