The Florida-Georgia game will be one of the most important SEC games this season. Despite both teams enduring longer losing streaks for the first time in decades, both teams have an opportunity to salvage their season.
Florida’s Urban Meyer and his Gators’ team are used to dominating, but the departure of several Gators to the NFL last year along with Tim Tebow, has made things more difficult this year.
The Gators’ junior quarterback John Brantley and the Bulldogs’ redshirt freshman Aaron Murray are in position take a step to the next level with their respective teams with a win.
There have been calls by the media to bench Brantley or do something with Florida’s offensive coordinator. The Gators’ current three-game losing streak is beginning to make fans and media even more nervous.
The previous two seasons, the Gators have gotten the best of the Bulldogs with consecutive blowouts: a 2008 49-10 loss and a 2009 41-17 loss.
The last time the Bulldogs beat Florida was during the Knowshown Moreno-Matthew Stafford era. This was the game when the Georgia team celebrated excessively with Mark Richt’s blessing in the endzone. The Bulldogs won 42-30.
No Percy Harvin. No Tim Tebow. No problem?
For the Bulldogs, a strong start is needed. The Gators have traditionally scored early and often, while Georgia had to play catch-up.
The Gators will likely try to find other ways to score such as special teams plays and turnovers from the defense.
For young Aaron Murray, this will be his first Georgia-Florida game and it will be interesting to see how he performs against the Gators’ defense.
Murray has been the steadier quarterback and has accumulated a few Freshman of the Week awards with wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Murray has thrown for 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Additionally, he is among the best freshman quarterbacks in passing efficiency in the nation.
Brantley has struggled at times this season and has been nursing various injuries all year while backup dual-threat quarterback Trey Burton waits in the wings to get a bigger opportunity to play. Brantley hasn’t been terrible, but he has been mostly average. For the season thus far, Brantley has thrown six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Georgia is favored against Florida by the oddsmakers for the first time in six years, and on the surface it appears the Bulldogs offense is in a great position to put points on the board with All-SEC performer A.J. Green and emerging sophomore Washun Ealey who has seemingly overcome his earlier off-field problems.
The 5’11, 215 Ealey has rushed for more than 100 yards in the past two weeks, so if the Bulldogs can keep Brantley and the Gators offense off the field, it could be a long day for the struggling Gators.
Georgia kept Kentucky’s offense in check, but one can’t underestimate Florida’s Mike Gillislee along with Jeffrey Demps. Additionally, how will Trey Burton be used?
Many Gators fans want to see an encore to Burton’s six touchdown performance against Kentucky and this annual game against the Bulldogs may be an opportunity for the talented six-foot two, 225 pound freshman to have his second breakout game.
The Gators’ current losing streak is the longest in more than a decade and a loss to Georgia is something that is considered not an option.
However, if the Gators lose to Georgia, the Bulldogs will have gone full circle after starting the season very badly at 1 and 3. For the Gators, a loss would mean more questions for Urban Meyer and the future of the Gators’ program.