Stafford is new to this "Florida" thing

ATHENS – You'll have to excuse Matthew Stafford if this whole "Florida" thing is new to him.

"I had no idea," the true freshman said. "I didn't know that until you just said it, but that's alright," responded Stafford to a reporter's question about if the Dallas native knew that Florida has won 14 of the last 16 games against Georgia.

"We say all the time – what happened last year doesn't matter this year," Stafford said. At this moment, after all, why should Stafford care what happened before him?

The orange is burnt in Stafford's old stomping grounds, and the big neutral-site game is between the Sooners and Longhorns. So his ignorance about Florida's dominance in the series is understood. Still, Stafford said the lopsided affair was never brought up during the recruiting process.

"I didn't really watch Georgia-Florida until I was in high school," Stafford said. "And no one talked about it during recruiting."

So now the player who is more familiar with the border war at the Cotton Bowl leads the Dawgs on a mission to pull an upset of Florida where the Gator Bowl is played – it won't be easy.

"I have to be smart with the ball," Stafford said. The young quarterback threw three interceptions last week as Georgia hung on to beat Mississippi State 27-24. He also threw three earlier this season in a win over South Carolina. Turnovers have been costly to the Dawgs this season, and Stafford has been made well aware of that – particularly after last week.

"I know I have to be very careful with the ball," he acknowledged. "We have emphasized that this week, yes, but you don't have to tell me that – I know."

Turnovers, however, are not the only problem the struggling Georgia offense has had this season. Stafford went on to say that the Dawgs' offense has not performed the way it should this season.

"I think we have underachieved on offense," Stafford said. "Putting points on the board consistently has been a problem – it seems like something every week with us."

Georgia's offense has struggled to find its footing all season long. The Mississippi State game seems to be a microcosm of the season – start the game off well, but never get a big enough lead to be comfortable; Then, turning the ball over to give the opponent an easy score to get back into the game. And in the fourth quarter roll the dice and try to hold on for dear life.

Last week Stafford started for the first time since the Colorado game, several players on offense got their first career starts thanks to injuries, and the Dawgs continued to struggle on offense.

"Part of that is a guy just maturing," said Richt of Stafford's developing. "We can't just hand the ball off the entire game and expect him to get better."

Stafford was a little harder on his own development.

"When you step on that field it doesn't matter your age – either you can play or you can't," he said.

The true freshman will get his shot to prove that he can play this week. Although he describes his season as "up and down", Stafford hopes that this week will be up – way up. He said senior Joe Tereshinski, the player he replaced as starting quarterback, told him to get ready for the Florida game because it "will be the most fun you will ever have playing."

It would be even more fun for Stafford to lead the Dawgs to an upset over Florida – one for one, after all, sounds a lot better than 15 of the last 17.

Dawg Post Top Stories