The matchups are very similar. While Georgia's defense is much higher ranked than the Gators they have similar strengths and weaknesses. The Gator secondary is among the nation's best, while until the Decory Bryant injury, so was Georgia's. The Dogs have all new linebackers but have still managed to be solid versus the run, giving up only 86yards per game. On offense the Dogs are third in the SEC on third down percentage at 44%, which could be interesting considering last season's 0-13 versus UF. Since 1983 the Gators are 1-5 versus the Dogs when they are ranked in the top five and the only win was last season in Zook's first year.
Offensively Georgia likes to spread the field and throw short crossing routes and run the football. The Dogs will also implore an "I" formation to set up their play action series in which they like to involve the tight end and the fullback. Georgia's quarterback David Greene is second all-time among SEC quarterbacks in pass attempts to interception ratio. That number has taken a hit this season has he has only thrown seven touchdowns with seven interceptions. Fred Gibson has been in and out of the lineup and that has hurt the Dogs deep passing game. The running game is led by Michael Cooper who is solid but not spectacular and Tyson Browning will come in on passing downs and run some draw plays. The offensive line has struggled and has given up 25 sacks.
Defensively the Dogs have been very good. Their best cover corner in Decory Bryant, who has 25 starts under his belt, is gone for the season with a neck injury. Georgia stills has one of the most dominant players in college football in defensive end David Pollack. His productivity has dropped a bit this season because people are game planning him better. Sean Jones is an emerging star in the secondary with five interceptions and a fumble return for touchdown versus Tennessee. Thomas Davis is a versatile safety that will play around the line of scrimmage. Georgia is third in the country in scoring defense at 11.5 points per game.
Channing Crowder must play better this week than he did versus Arkansas. Crowder had 10 tackles but played out of control at times and needs to be more focused this week. Guss Scott shined in this game a season ago because of Georgia's inability to stretch the seams in the passing game. If Fred Gibson does not play or is ineffective keep an eye on Scott to take more chances in the passing game. UF linebackers will implore the same defensive strategy underneath in the zone coverage that they used versus San Jose St .Once the linebackers read pass they turn their eyes directly to the crossing routes and hold their position. It allows for big shots on the receivers and gives them alligator arms. Florida lineabcker coach Bill Miller has done a nice job with this corps and getting mileage out of Ryan Fleming and Matt Farrior. The bubble screen may not be as big of a weapon as last year but if Georgia continues to blitz like it has this season the tailback screen will once again be in the gameplan. The biggest challenge for the UF offense this week will be to get the running game going against the stingy Dog defense. Look for Florida offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher to break some tendencies this week versus Georgia. The Gators have run the ball well on first down the last two weeks to set up the play action pass. Chris Leak has found Carlos Perez with deep balls in each of the last two games. The matchup to watch will be Pollack versus Max Starks. But don't be surprised if Jonathan Colon, who has better lateral movement, gets some shots on Pollack. I think the Gators will empty the playbook this week against the Dogs and take some shots for some easy points.
I am not sure Charlie Strong is that interested in Mississippi State. The word is that State would like to make a minority hire and Strong is a leading candidate. But the impending investigation and possible sanctions against the Bulldogs may keep it from being overly attractive. Here are three jobs Strong might be more interested in if they come open this season or next year - Clemson, North Carolina and South Carolina. That's right. USC and Lou Holtz are do to part ways soon and the word up there is Skip Holtz is looking for a job this year. Keep an eye on that on even though it is a long shot. A lot of rumors of possible transfers and unhappy Gators are out there for Florida. One guy who I think is going to stay is backup Quarterback Gavin Dickey. I hear he really likes UF, Zook and his teammates. I think he may end up at safety but don't rule out him as the backup QB this season. He has been practicing very well the last several weeks and may get the call before Ingle Martin if Leak were to go down.
Stat of the Week: 2.5
Number of sacks for David Pollack this season after 14 a year ago.