We had Buck Belue on the radio show this week and he brought up a good theory on the Florida/Georgia game: “It’s the ‘here we go again’ game,” is how Buck put it.
He was double right.
Not a “here we go again,” game but actually two “here we go again halves.”
Georgia did everything they could to give the game to Florida in the first half. Interceptions, fumbles, bad decisions and the Gators took advantage of every opportunity. Although they didn’t score on the initial turnover of the game on the first offensive play, the Gators were relentless when it came to pounding the football.
“We had two weeks to work on it,” Mike Pouncey when asked about the up-tempo no-huddle Florida employed the entire game. “It doesn’t give the defense a chance to adjust.”
That was the case for the three-quarterback system as well. Even though they used Jordan Reed occasionally in the backfield, the combo of John Brantley and Trey Burton did most of the damage. They especially caused problems when Brantley and Burton stayed in the game and one would line up at quarterback then they’d shift positions.
“The defense has some difficulty making the calls there,” Brantley explained after the game.
He’s right about that, but Georgia just didn’t play well in the first half. Not on offense, where quarterback Aaron Murray was awful “Maybe a little too amped up, but that’s no excuse,” and not on defense where they looked like they were going through the motions. “I felt good coming into the game and I didn’t feel terrible at halftime. I didn’t like being down 21-3 but I felt like we were capable of coming back,” Mark Richt explained at his post-game press conference.
At halftime, Richt told his team to keep playing and they’d be back in it. Not only were they in it, they were the dominant team. If Georgia thought, “Here we go again,” after getting down in the first half; Florida probably figured the same thing after halftime. Having lost three games, their orders this week were to “finish.” But Georgia had different ideas, outscoring Florida 24-10 in the second half and out playing the Gators at every phase.
While Georgia’s defense faltered in letting Burton run 51 yards for a touchdown, their offense responded with a tying touchdown pass to A.J. Green. (By the way, Green is the best player on the team, was the best player on the field and I still think he could be the best player in the conference.)
Going into the overtime Georgia had every advantage: They got the ball first, and they had the best kicker in the game. Florida was going to have to play catch-up and their kicker was a backup. But when Murray threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted, the advantage shifted to the Gators.
In the college overtime game, you have to score. Georgia came away from that possession with zero points, meaning all Florida had to do was kick a field goal. But with their back up kicker, that could be an adventure. After three downs the kick was true and Florida wins for the 18th time in the last 21 games, 34-31 in overtime (the first OT in the series).
With the win Florida still controls their destiny in the SEC east and the South Carolina game looks to be the deciding contest. Georgia now can only play the spoiler and hope this kind of experience carries through for their young players.
Honestly, they were the better team but they couldn’t figure out how to show it against Florida. That’s three or four games this year where they had the talent but couldn’t figure out how to win the game. I don’t know if that’s coaching or team leadership but they shouldn’t be in that situation that often.