Finebaum: Georgia-Florida is always special. You have been there pretty much every year. But the sub-plots of this game are critical. I don’t know if it really means anything when the game starts. But frame the game for us - particularly - does Florida have a shot?
Danielson: They have a shot because defensively they can stop run. The last eight years the teams that have run for the most yards have won the game. Somebody asked me: What would be the weakness of Georgia? At first I thought was their secondary, because so many players turned over. But I think they’ve done a nice job of turning that around. That matches up with their outstanding pass rush. They have a lot of veteran linebacker who make a lot of plays.
I would say if Georgia has a weakness it is quarterback. You probably wouldn’t believe this, but its Georgia that is ranked 112th in passing. Florida is ranked 94th. The reason for that is that they run it pretty darn good.
So the matchup has to be: Can Florida force Georgia into a passing game and take advantage of that? If not they have no chance.
Finebaum: Gary, how has Georgia been so effective, and I realize it is a small sample, how have they done so well without Todd Gurley?
Danielson: Who would have ever thought that going into this game that the leading rusher on this team would not be Todd Gurley and yet (Georgia) would be in position to control their own destiny to play in Atlanta again? No one.
I mean when Nick Chubb was signing his letter of intent to play at Georgia I bet a lot of his friends were going: “Why are you going there? You are going to sit on the bench? You are not going to play at all sitting behind Gurley, and if Keith Marshall stays another year you might not play that year.”
I give almost all of the credit to Mark Richt. And I know that he rubs a lot of people wrong, but his long viewpoint, calm demeanor. The whole way he runs his program. I think he has his team prepared for what Nick Saban calls the grind of the season.
And when Gurley left - I think when Mark Richt looked at his team… he sells and preaches “team” every day I have never been there. That’s all I have ever heard him talk about is that it is more important to play for Georgia than be the star for Georgia. I think his team took it up, and they played hard, and they were hungry and they were trying to prove something.
I mean, let’s be honest, who they played has helped out a little bit as well. But I think his stoic demeanor has really helped his football team.
Finebaum: Finally on this game - you have had a good look at Florida’s offense over the last year or two, and where can they go from here?
Danielson: (Deep breath) That’s a tough one. I have looked at this game the last few years. In 2011, remember Aaron Murray hit those fourth-down passes to bring the team back when it looked like he may never get a big win. 2012 game was really sloppy. Nine turnovers in that game. In 2013, Georgia got out 23-3, and it was a game. If you remember Georgia ran that game out. They held the ball the last eight minutes of the game when it look like Florida had their way on offense. Florida just can’t seem to get out of their way on offense. They have trouble catching the ball when it is thrown in the right direction. They have trouble finding the right receiver to throw to. Will, obviously, has problems at quarterback. Anyone that loses their quarterback has problems in this league. The one year they had one, a healthy one, they won 11 games. But that year, if you look closely, they had a +15 turnover margin. So everything broke their way. Since then nothing has been breaking their way.
Let me put it this way, when I came into the league about 2006, 2007, I remember the big-name schools were Florida and Tennessee and a little bit LSU with Nick Saban down there. What struck me first was how much more individual talent that Florida had than Tennessee. I was like: What happened to Tennessee’s talent? Now when I turn on the tape I just go: Where is Florida’s talent?
When’s the last time, since maybe when Tebow left, when they have a receiver or a quarterback or anybody on the outside of the formation that was a playmaker? They just don’t have the type of SEC talent that they did when I came into the league.