BEFORE WE MOVE ON TO TROY...
Beating the Gators once is a big deal for any season. But, the question is whether we are poised to start winning in Jacksonville with some consistency. Since Spurrier turned the series around beginning in 1990, Georgia has now won three times. The win in 1997 came after a seven game losing streak. Georgia entered the game as a double digit underdog even though they had only one loss in the season - to Tennessee. Florida was in the Top 10 and was seemingly on their way to another SEC Title behind stars Doug Johnson, Fred Taylor, Jaquez Green, Jevon Kearse, Fred Weary, and Teako Brown. Georgia won that game 37-17 behind a great four touchdown performance from Robert Edwards. In that game, Georgia was hot and the mood was similar to the game this weekend. In addition to Edwards, Georgia was led by seniors Mike Bobo, Hines Ward, Greg Bright and Corey Allen. The starting offensive line consisted of a senior center, senior guards and a pair of junior tackles named Matt Stinchcomb and Chris Terry. There were no freshman or sophomores starters on offense and only two sophomore starters on defense.
In 2004, Georgia ended a six game losing streak by jumping ahead 21-0 and then hanging on for dear life to hold off a second half rally by Leak and the Gators for a 31-24 win. The mood was elation early followed by serious concern the entire second half worried that the Gators would find a way to pull it out. Those Dawgs were led by Seniors David Greene, David Pollack, Fred Gibson, and Reggie Brown. Thomas Davis was a junior, but that was his final season as a Dawg. Interestingly, the 2004 team was loaded with Juniors. But the next year, heading into the Florida game with a load of seniors, Georgia was without senior quarterback DJ Shockley and lost 14-10.
The similarities between the 1997 and 2004 wins were that both teams were led by senior quarterbacks and several other key senior superstars. The difference between the team this year and the teams from 1997 and 2004 is amazingly that we only started 3 seniors on offense (Bailey, Velasco, Adams) and 2 seniors on defense (Howard, Johnson.) Indeed, we started 11 freshmen and sophomores, including Stafford, Moreno, Sturdivant, Boling and Davis on offense. You already know that Freshman Knowshon Moreno had 188 yards rushing and three touchdowns. On defense, 44 tackles were made by underclassmen. Freshmen made 16 tackles, twice as many tackles as made by seniors (8.)
Of course Florida has a lot of tremendous young players: Tebow, Harvin, etc. But one thing is for certain. We will have a whole bus load of players coming back to Jacksonville next year who know how to beat the Gators. That is the biggest difference between this win and the 1997 and 2004 games. The current streak is now 1-0 in Georgia's favor.
Now, on to TROY.