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Post Time to sigh

Sunday October 31, 2010

On one hand, it was nice to avoid the blowout/collapse that we’ve been treated to during the last two trips to Jacksonville.  Instead, 2010 will go down like 1992 or maybe 2002 or 2003 – games in which Georgia might’ve had momentum or an even shot coming into the game but left empty-handed and thinking about a handful of plays, decisions, and missed opportunities.

Florida deserves a ton of credit for the way in which the won the game.  They made their chances, and just as Georgia did a week ago in Lexington, Florida cashed in with good efficiency.  The game might have come down to overtime, but the game was framed during the consecutive Georgia turnovers and Florida scores that made it a 21-7 game and forced Georgia to, once again, play from behind in Jacksonville. Even with Georgia’s defense standing tough for a quarter, there was only so long they could hold back the inevitable. Whether it was the pressure that caused Murray’s fumble or good recognition to jump the first pass, Florida made their luck.  Contrast that with a chance at a fumble recovery or a dropped interception by the Georgia defense – plays they made only a week ago in a much different environment.

So the "overtime game" will go down next to the timeout game and the Edwards drop and the facemask in 2006 as just another year where Georgia had its chances to do something about the dreadful record against Florida but couldn’t. Georgia was again part of a classic Georgia-Florida game and played its usual role in a game between two fairly even teams. Of course Florida’s punter-turned-placekicker would nail two out of three after his 0-fer in the loss to Mississippi State.

But to focus on the mind games and to buy into the role of Charlie Brown to Florida’s Lucy is to ignore what Florida did to win the game.  The 450 yards of offense were as many as Florida has put up against Georgia since 2004.  A team that had been held under 100 yards rushing in two of its last three games gashed Georgia for 231 yards on the ground.  They had the game’s biggest playmaker:  Chris Rainey made the most of his return with 241 all-purpose yards. If you had to guess based just on this game which team was riding a winning streak and which was struggling with its offense, you’d have a tough time getting it right. Even with the success Georgia had throwing the ball, the game was played the way Florida wanted it on both sides of the ball.

As for Murray, it’s asking a lot to put a game of this magnitude and the angst of a program on a freshman.  His shaky start was the product of something we talked about the other day.  "Urgency can lead to intensity and focus, but it can also lead to pressing…and turnovers." He was amped up and tight and played like it.  That he kept his head, adapted to the defense, and led Georgia to the brink of victory was a tremendous accomplishment.  If this is his "worst" Cocktail Party, he won’t leave with a losing record against the Gators. At the same time, he’s yet to have his first signature moment in a big game like this with the game on the line.  Will he get another opportunity in two weeks?

Georgia’s offense should take a good deal of confidence from the game.  They won’t face a defense that good as a unit again, and Murray won’t be in nearly as harsh of a spotlight as he was on his first start in his home state.  Defense is another story.  Georgia’s difficulties stopping the run and dealing with multiple looks from the backfield weren’t encouraging given who the final two opponents of the season are. The Dawgs had to come up with two great performances to get to 7-5 and a bowl game last year, and Florida’s success running the ball leaves us with a clear picture of the biggest challenge facing this year’s home stretch. 

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