GAMEDAY: Gators need to 'be-ware' of Bulldogs

The calendar reads October 28, 2004 and while a majority of Gator fans are gearing up for 2005, UF will roll into Jacksonville on Saturday for their annual match up with Georgia regardless of where the visor wearing, golf club toting Steve Spurrier is.

Analysts have argued since the beginning of the year that this year's Georgia team is the most talented to come along in recent years. Putting the ball in the air is all but certain in a game that features the likes of David Greene, Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown for the Bulldogs and Chris Leak, Bubba Caldwell and Chad Jackson for the Gators. However, the winner of this game will boil down to one thing.

UF is going to have to stop the Georgia running game, something that it has failed to do in 2 out of its past 3 games, both losses. LSU torched the Gators for 210 yards rushing on 45 attempts while lowly Mississippi State rolled up 251 yards on 47 carries. Freshman Danny Ware, who was listed as put of the game early on this week, has been practicing this week and is expected to play plenty.

"They run extremely well and are a veteran group that plays with a lot of experience and intensity," Coach Ron Zook said. "Offensively, they have a lot of firepower. They have a stable full of running backs and split their play calling fifty-fifty between running and passing."

One area that will benefit the Gators in Alltel will be not having to worry about a running QB. While the Bulldogs do have D.J. Shockley at their disposal, David Greene is the definition of a pocket QB. Omar Conner torched the Gators for 50 yards scrambling, most in clutch situations, and Marcus Randall notched 46.

With Greene, the Gators will be hoping to repeat the blitz/sack fest that occurred when the pass-happy Blue Raiders rolled into Gainesville two weeks ago. A huge part of UF's blitz package, senior Travis Harris has been in a boot all week long, but the Georgia native is expecting to play.

"That's how [Harris] is," Zook said. "If he can walk, he'll play." The Gators front seven might sport the orange and blue, but for a few of the guys in the defensive front rotation, playing the Bulldogs means a lot more. Linebackers Channing Crowder and Travis Harris and linemen Kenny Parker and Jeremy Mincey all hail from the Peach State. Putting pressure on Greene will play second fiddle on Saturday to what should be UF's number one priority-- stopping the run.

Another area that should prove to be a ray of light for the run stop defense will be the addition of sophomore DT Ray McDonald to the starting line up. Ray Mac rode the pine pony for the past two games after getting hurt in the LSU game.

"My ankle was killing me," McDonald told the Jacksonville Times-Union. "It was hurting me on the inside knowing that I couldn't help my teammates out, but all that changed now because I'm on the field. I can help my team out by winning this game Saturday."

The addition of Ray Mac to an ailing line could prove to be the difference for a defensive front four that has been struggling with inconsistency all year long. While Mincey has been solid, the other end spot has been unproductive with the exception of Steven Harris. Teaming up with fellow sophomore DT Marcus Thomas, McDonald knows the task that awaits his defense on Saturday.

"I hope we can hold them to under 100 yards rushing," McDonald said. "Their offensive line is pretty good."

Fightin Gators Top Stories