It's Time to Beat Georgia -- No Excuses

Updated: Nov 10

Florida felt good about its 2020 chances before the season began: A

veteran preseason All-SEC QB, a nice home slate and the Georgia

Bulldogs playing (and losing to) Alabama. But now, with each team at

one loss apiece, this upcoming Cocktail Party is a chance for the

Gators to finally make good on their promise to become elite -- a task

Georgia has blocked every step of the way since Dan Mullen took the

reins.



Florida has experienced a meteoric rise back to relevancy following

Dan Mullen's hiring in December of 2017, but losses to Georgia in both

2018 and 2019 have kept the Gators from any shot at a berth in not

only the SEC Championship Game, but also the College Football Playoff.



One could argue that Mullen went into both of those games as the

underdog due to the talent gap. Kirby Smart has been out-recruiting

Florida since the tail end of the Jim McElwain era, and the Dawgs have

had three straight top-three classes dating back to 2018.



This year though, the talent gap can't be used as an excuse. In year

three of any coach’s tenure, the narrative changes. The coach becomes

much more responsible for the personnel he puts on the field. The jury

is still out on whether Mullen can become an ace recruiter on top of

being an ace developer of talent. However, the Gators still enter

Saturday as members of the CFP conversation due to the on-field

product.



Florida's offense has been exceptional this season, ranking 15th in

total offense and 5th in yards per play. Georgia will be by far the

best defense Florida has faced, but the Dawgs will enter pretty banged

up after Saturday's 14-3 win vs Kentucky. At this time, there are

multiple starters expected to be out on Georgia's D, including safety

Richard LeCounte and defensive tackle Jordan Davis.



Georgia’s offense, on the other hand, ranks outside the top 50 in

total offense (51). It's an offense in which quarterback Stetson

Bennett IV hasn't shown an ability to go vertical in the passing game.

The Bulldog running game trifecta of James Cook (yes, Dalvin’s

brother), Zamir “Zeus” White and true freshman Kendall Milton,

however, has been excellent, showing an ability to control the clock

and keep opposing offenses off the field - a place the Gators don't

want Kyle Trask in this game.



On the field, signs point to this being a game Florida can win.

Quarterback play is unequivocally in favor of Florida based on

performances to date this year. Georgia has weapons on the outside but

is just not the same when compared to Florida's high-octane offense.

The defense will need to perform closer to the caliber it did against

Missouri than in College Station. The Gators are a much healthier team

than Georgia right now, and seem to have gotten defensive tackle Kyree

Campbell back at the perfect time to clog up the middle in what is

sure to be a run-heavy Georgia attack.



Saturday is a game that Florida needs to win for reasons beyond just

this season. A comparison? 2019’s historically great LSU team finally

broke its losing streak against an Alabama team that was in a “down

year” by its own standards. In a rivalry where there is a clear second

fiddle for several years, that second fiddle must capitalize on the

misfortune of its opponent to clear the hurdle for a gain.



The Florida football program's momentum of the past few years will

take a hit with a loss, and regardless of how the rest of the season

goes, the narrative will change to question Florida’s ability to ever

beat Georgia with Dan Mullen and Kirby Smart at each respective team’s

helm. Plus, no SEC Championship Game appearance. Forget the College

Football Playoff. An eight-win win season and potential NY6 bowl would

still be on the table, but after getting there the past two years,

this program wants more.


A win this weekend heavily ups Florida’s chances to get to Atlanta,

where the team will likely feel much better about its chances to win

than the Gators’ last SECCG appearance in 2016.

At this moment, November 7th is the entire 2020 football season for

Florida. We can talk about the remaining schedule after it's over.

This team is good enough. It's time to beat Georgia. No excuses.


Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football

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