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Post Getting in a WLOCP state of mind

Wednesday October 26, 2011

Just a few mid-week thoughts about the game…

Get healthy. Both Georgia and Florida enjoyed bye weeks last week, and both expect some key contributors to return from the list of the injured. Georgia fans are nervously watching every tidbit about Malcom Mitchell’s hamstring, and Florida plans to have their first-string quarterback. The Dawgs should be as healthy as they’ve been in a while, and they welcome back a first-string linebacker. The big question though is how the healed players will hold up. Will Brantley’s ankle survive a couple of hits? Will Mitchell be able to trust his hamstring at full speed on his deep routes? Can Crowell make it through a game?

Get a hold of yourself. The takeway from the Vandy game wasn’t what happened postgame. It’s that the team, and the defense in particular, couldn’t keep its composure against Vanderbilt. Georgia hasn’t even faced their three biggest rivals. The Dawgs will be poked and prodded for the rest of the season to see if those opponents can’t gain the same edge that Vanderbilt realized. We want the defense to play with emotion, get fired up, and even be a little angry. It’s a fine line – the Dawgs were on the right side of it after the pre-game barking with Mississippi State. It went a little differently at Vanderbilt. The Florida game brings its own emotions and tension. Whether you’re talking about frustration over the streak or digging up indignation over an eye gouge or dancing in the endzone, there’s no shortage of potential powder kegs. It starts with the coaches: Grantham’s fire needs to have a laser focus. He doesn’t have to match the other sideline in the unhinged department.

There’s another angle on composure, and it’s summed up well in this post. Aaron Murray still struggles with slow starts, and that continued with a 3-for-9 start at Vanderbilt before the offense got humming. Murray recovered to throw for 313 yards and lead Georgia’s comeback, but the slow start meant that the Bulldogs played from behind for much of the game. He was a freshman making his first start in his home state, so it’s reasonable that he was overexcited. Offense has come at a premium for Georgia in this series, and they’ll need Murray to be at his best out of the gate. Florida is dead-last in the SEC in turnover margin, but Bulldog turnovers have been one of the bigger stories in the past three meetings. If the beards live on for another week, the Dawgs should be in good shape.

Get in the endzone. We’ve pounded on the lack of offense in Jacksonville for years. Last year was a rarity in the series: Georgia managed to put a fair number of points on the board and still lost. Georgia has scored at least 20 points in every SEC game this year, but Florida will be one of the better defenses they’ve faced. Even in these lean years, Georgia has done well when scoring at least 24 points in Jacksonville. Key will be finishing scoring opportunities. Settling for early field goals has left Georgia with some uncomfortably close finishes against South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. A windy forecast on Saturday is just one more reason to hope that the Dawgs have better results getting 7 instead of 3.

Get rid of the excuses. Bernie has a good point here. Of course it matters in terms of preparation and strategy who Florida puts under center. But almost every year Georgia fans cling to some sort of talisman that will reverse the trend in Jacksonville. Just wait ’til {Lito | Taylor | Wuerffel | Spurrier | Tebow | Urban} is gone. It’s the nature of lopsided rivalries – we’ll take any perceived hope we can get. Now it’s Brantley. Forget about it, and just play ball.

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