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Post WLOCP thoughts along I-16

Thursday October 31, 2013

Not much to do but think along this stretch of road…

1) Georgia’s defensive line

Florida has put its offense under the microscope during the bye week, and the offensive line has received special scrutiny. The Gators were already considering a switch at right tackle to JUCO Trenton Brown (who was a Georgia commitment before switching to the Gators.) Earlier this week Florida starting left tackle D.J. Humphries injured his knee. So the Gators will move the right tackle that was going to be benched in favor of Brown over to left tackle, and Brown will make his first start.

That’s not great news for a unit that has given up 10 sacks in the past 2 games. Georgia’s defense hasn’t put up much resistance this year, but one area that could be considered a strength is the defensive line. Ray Drew and Sterling Bailey have played well up front, and they’re anchored by the senior Garrison Smith. With active outside linebackers like Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, despite its shortcomings elsewhere on defense, isn’t far behind Missouri in generating sacks. Jarvis Jones stole the show the past couple of years, but last year’s Florida game could be considered the coming out party for Jenkins.

The Dawgs are also among the top third of the conference against the run, and that will be an important battle in this game. Florida, perhaps even moreso than Georgia, will want to establish the run and reduce the workload for Tyler Murphy. If Florida is forced to lean on its passing game, Georgia’s defensive front should have some opportunities against a shaky line and a quarterback battling shoulder problems.

2) Florida’s cornerbacks

The Gator defensive backfield has been relatively (though not completely) injury-free, and it’s the strength of a very good defense. If Georgia is only swapping Bennett for Conley, they will still trot out a diminished group of receivers. If Florida finds success covering the Georgia receiving options one-on-one, that frees up a lot of bodies for the SEC’s leading rushing defense to throw at the line of scrimmage. The Gators don’t get a ton of sacks – only 11 on the season so far – but they are tops in the league on third down. Expect Florida to pay a lot of attention to Todd Gurley and force Aaron Murray to make plays against some tight coverage.

3) Murray’s performance

Can Murray make those plays to loosen up the line of scrimmage? For a guy who’s 2-1 as a starter in this game, Murray has had some shaky outings in Jacksonville. In those three games, he’s been 45-of-95. His best performance came as a freshman in 2010 where he led a frenzied comeback and finished with 313 yards. He’s only totaled 319 yards and 5.5 yards per attempt in the two games since, but he’s connected on three dramatic touchdown passes that made the difference in those wins.

Florida’s great defense could make for another messy day for even a good quarterback like Murray. If he can overcome that for another South Carolina-like performance, it will be a great day for Georgia. But more likely, considering the depleted receivers, Murray will face some struggles. While it will be necessary for him to make some big throws – whether smaller drive-sustaining passes or touchdown passes – it’s just as important for him to avoid turnovers. What we don’t want is to give a struggling Florida offense a shot in the arm with good field position after a turnover. The Dawgs overcame Murray’s three interceptions last year in large part because they forced six turnovers of their own. Georgia’s defense hasn’t been as effective at creating turnovers in 2013, so each Georgia mistake – by the offense or special teams – will be magnified. It’s fine if a drive stalls; it’s going to happen against this good of a defense. Make sure Florida has to drive and earn what points they get.

4) Matching Florida’s urgency

We know that Muschamp has circled the wagons over the past two weeks. Is he coaching for his job? Probably not, but he’s not in the clear either. Not only is Muschamp under personal pressure to win, but Florida also is in danger of seeing the series flip on them. Three Georgia wins in a row would be significant, and some longer-term trends in the series could swing Georgia’s way too. Desperation and urgency doesn’t always mean a win (Georgia was plenty desperate over the past two decades), but we should at least expect Florida to throw everything they have into this game. The Dawgs were caught off-guard by Florida’s changes in 2010. Can they be more prepared this time, and can they bring a focus and urgency of their own?

One Response to 'WLOCP thoughts along I-16'

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  • I too am concerned which Aaron Murray will show-up. He has had 16 messy days at Quarterback where we did lose. 32-16 is not even Top 25 in Won Loss Percentage of the Aaron Murray Era. Another loss, Loss # 17 will cause much consternation when here we are again, not ranked half of these 4 years of Aaron Murray our Starting Quarterback, losing 1 of every 3 games he has Started for us. This is Mark Richt’s worst period : The Aaron Murray Era. Would Aaron Murray throw 2 picks, be sacked 4 times, fumble the ball once and continue connecting at a rate of # 88 in the Nation on Converting 3rd Downs and sending back out our Special Teams # 100 in the nation and without a coach 98 other teams have, and sending right back out our Pass Defense # 100 in the nation too ? Florida converts at a rate of # 53 in the nation on 3rd Down Conversions, so they are nearly twice as good as Aaron Murray has been this year. That’s how bad it’s been all season now. Un-Happy Campers for discussion of Offense this season for both teams. When Florida does send their Defense right back out, they have a Defense. We don’t. So, when Aaron Murray fails on 3rd Downs as he’s done all season now, it is amplified by our poor Pass Defense and our Poor Special Teams’ play, trying to bail him out. I do worry about us not making 1st Downs, as we of all teams in the nation can least overcome that. You say we can weather that, if we don’t turn it over. I am less sure of that. We’ve made every Quarterback we played this season look better than our Quarterback.

    Hoping we do not add Loss # 17 for Aaron Murray and Todd Grantham, and for our no Special Teams’ Coach.

    I am not sure how much it really means to Aaron Murray, Todd Grantham or Mark Richt. I am sure how much this game means to Will Mushchamp. I think if he loses this game 3 times in a row after all his guarantees every year they would beat us, that he will be fired as a result.

    Win and he stays on, barely, for another year ? Then, maybe we can pick him up to replace Todd Grantham, Mark Richt’s 5th choice at DC, and with a scheme which he has not taught our great now NFL players how to make work either.

    We have soul-searching time. I-16 is a good place for that.