Matchups - UF/UGA

What are the keys to the big game this weekend? Lets take a look at the matchups between the Gators and Dawgs.

Matchup Breakdown:



Florida Offensive Line vs Georgia Defensive Line
The Dogs have David Pollack and his numbers are down from a year ago.  His impact is still felt as he is the third leading tackler with 49 tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss.  Opponents are averaging 84 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry.  Kedric Golston is injured and will not play but The Dogs have Ken Veal at the nose spot who's a load at 305 pounds and Robert Geathers, a junior, are very formidable.  Georgia stunts and games a lot with it's defensive tackles.  Max Starks did an adequate job on Pollack a year ago and Randy Hand and Lance Butler may have had their best performances versus Arkansas this season.The Gator offensive line is playing well and has seen a tough front the last two weeks.  The Georgia defense has 77 quarterback pressures on the season.
Florida's Defensive Line vs Georgia's Offensive Line
The Bulldog offensive line has struggled this season relinquishing 25 sacks, so far the most in the SEC. Four sophomores and a red-shirt freshman start for Mark Richt and the best of the lot may be Max Jean-Gilles.  The Bulldogs are vulnerable up the middle and Ray McDonald could have a big game.  This is not a great run block line as well only averaging 3.7 yds per carry.  The one thing they do well is protect long enough for Greene to get off short passes. The defensive ends will be on the hot seat for UF and Darrell Lee could have a big game.
Georgia Passing Game vs Gator Secondary
David Greene has not had a great season by his standards because of the injuries to his main target Fred Gibson.  He has only seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.  Two of his interceptions were in the 4th quarter versus LSU in Georgia's only loss.  He does not handle pressure up front very well but with time he will pick you apart.  The Gator secondary has played great all season and Keiwan Ratliff has taken his game up a notch.  Greene has great savvy with five 4th quarter wins in his career.  Damien Gary, Reggie Brown, Michael Johnson and Bryan McClendon are solid but not spectacular receivers.  Florida can man up with these guys on first down but will probably need some help underneath with the crossing routes.  This matchup is a tie because of David Greene and the uncertainty of Fred Gibson, who is a gamebreaker.  Florida leads the SEC with only six touchdowns given up in eight games.
  Gator Passing Game vs Georgia Secondary
The Dogs have been stout on defense and possess one of the best safety combo's in the conference in free safety Thomas Davis and rover Sean Jones.  These two guys are active headhunters and Jones may be the biggest playmaker on this unit.  Tim Jennings will start for the injured Decory Bryant and Bruce Thornton is on the other side.  Bryant was the best cover corner for coordinator Brian Van Gorder.  Chris Leak's success will depend on his time and protection.  Carlos Perez and Kelvin Kight had big games last season against Georgia and Ben Troupe caught the winning touchdown.  I don't believe the screen package will be as big of the game plan as last season.  This Dog secondary is capable of dominating you but they will give up a big play.  The secondary is led by Sean Jones with 5 interceptions and the Dogs will blitz with Thomas Davis who has 4 sacks.

Special Teams
The Gators have the SEC's number two punter in Eric Wilbur who is averaging 44.5 yards per punt and has ten inside the 20.  Ely Kelso only averages 38 yards per punt for Georgia but has pinned twelve inside the 20.  Damien Gary and Keiwan Ratliff are a wash at the punt return game while the Gators have been better on kickoff returns.  Neither team has had a punt blocked but both are very capable.  Georgia's kicker, Billy Bennett, was a preseason All SEC performer who has missed five kicks this season including some crucial ones on the road at LSU.  Matt Leach is 12 for 16 with a long of 50 and is performing very well.  This may be the game we finally see some trickeration in the kicking game.

Florida is the underdog and comes into the game still holding it's "us against the world" mentality.  Georgia is a wounded Dog whose confidence may be shaken.  I think a wounded Dog is very dangerous.  Mark Richt has done a great job all week preparing his team and fans with his best Vince Dooley impersonation.  Ron Zook has convinced his team that they are still major underdogs against the 4th ranked team in the country.  The home field advantage and recent series history favors the Gators.  Until the Bulldogs can prove they are mentally stronger than UF the edge has to go to the Gators

Keys Numbers:
A couple of key stats for Georgia and it's chances to close out the Gators in the East.  During Mark Richt's career Georgia is 14-1 when reaching 400+yards.  The Gators, who have been horrible on red zone defense, must find a way to hold Georgia to field goal attempts when the enter the scoring area.  The Dogs want to control the ball with a short passing game and move the chains and establish time of possession.  The Bulldogs have seven scoring drives of nine plays or more and even has three, four minute scoring drives.  The Gators will need to do a better job of getting the Dogs off the field with a performance similar to last year (0-13) on third down.  Offensively, the Gators must control the ball and mix it up on first down.  The Bulldog defense has forced 48 three and outs on the season, which is a league best 43% of the time.  When UF gets into the scoring area they must be creative on first down and get points.  The Bulldogs are very good on defense in the red zone and do not allow touchdowns.  The one weakness the Bulldogs do have on their number one ranked defense is they do not get defensive touchdowns.  They have only managed one score this season and that was versus Tennessee.  Georgia is good in the red zone because they do not allow anyone to get there with only 14 possessions by opposing teams.  Florida is +7 in turnover margin while Georgia is +8.

How will it play out:
Florida's remarkable run has been keyed by defensive turnovers and big plays in the offense.  Georgia is ripe to be beaten but does do a good job of competing in big games by winning field position and not turning over the ball.  I think UF will turn Georgia over three times and turn Alltel Stadium into a home field advantage.  This is still a helmet game and if UF can get out quickly I believe they can complete their re-emergence in the SEC.  I think both defenses will shine and the Gators get one more field goal than the Dogs.

MY PREDICTION: Florida 16-13

Fightin Gators Top Stories