VETTEL: The Rivalry is Back!

The Georgia Bulldawgs accomplished a number of things in Jacksonville Saturday evening. The Dawgs took control of the SEC Eastern Division race. They showcased the nation's next big thing in tailback Knowshon Moreno. But more than anything else, the Georgia Bulldawgs re-established the Florida/Georgia rivalry.

The annual battle between the SEC rivals had become rather passé in recent years. Florida entered this year's contest having won 15 of the last 17 games, and it was Georgia fans who were griping about the supposed "neutral site" in Jacksonville. Recent years were reminiscent about the period of time prior to the Gators' dominance when Georgia won 10 of 12, including six straight from 1978 through 1983. One-sided streaks do not add intensity to a rivalry; they detract from it, injecting instead a feeling of inevitability.

That all changed with the Georgia win.

"Celebration" Started Early

Georgia did something really weird early in this game when Mark Richt basically instructed his team to overreact to their first touchdown. The ploy of sending the entire team onto the field to celebrate a 7-0 lead may have gotten the Dawgs' confidence up. And if that motivated them to rise up and defeat the Gators, Richt will happily take the criticism that's bound to come.

One thing for certain, it's a move Florida is unlikely to forget. In fact I'll bet you the Gator players see that stunt in meetings during spring practice. They'll see it during summer conditioning, and they'll see it over and over again during Georgia week in 2008.

Gators Don't Know(shon) How To Tackle

I've been saying all along that it was reasonable to expect a significant drop off in the Gator defense this year, but it's becoming a precipitous fall. Georgia moved the ball all day/night long and finished with more than 400 yards of total offense. Freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno broke so many tackles you would have thought Herschel Walker had returned. Moreno rambled for 188 yards on 33 carries and made the Gators look foolish over and over again. Florida's tackling issues were throughout the unit, but it certainly starts with the safeties and linebackers.

Florida only forced Georgia to punt twice the entire game and managed to create just one turnover. Even that turnover, an interception for a touchdown by Wondy Pierre-Louis was later returned to Georgia when the Florida DB committed a personal foul and was beaten deep for a touchdown one play later making it a 35-24 game.

Florida has now given up 107 points (35.7/g) and 1,316 (429/g) yards in the last three games. Instead of a young defense getting better Florida is getting worse on that side of the ball. Injuries have certainly hurt. The Gators lost Javier Estopinan and Terron Sanders in the first half, and were without Major Wright and Markihe Anderson, but that happens to everyone this time of year.

The Gators have problems that they have to tackle quickly, or the final four games of this season could be quite depressing.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


Fightin Gators Top Stories