What a glorious game, glorious day, and glorious team!
My Saturday morning began with the great news that my nephew Michael had received a nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy from Congressman Jack Kingston. If Michael gets an appointment, he will become the 4th member of our family to attend since 1976. Thanks Jack and good luck Michael!
My day only got better from there. Uncle Bo and I hit three tailgates before heading into the stadium and had some excellent food and beverage with great friends. Confidence was growing with each Hendricks, Tonic and lime I poured. By kickoff, I felt as good as could be expected about the potential fate of our Dawgs on this 90th meeting for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
In the opening flurry, Florida proceeded in a very Georgia-esque fashion having a long kickoff called back by penalty (the refs had several to choose from). Then Jeff Demps, the fastest man in college football, got run down by Brandon Boykin after a 72 yard sprint. Not sure what to call the guy who ran down the fastest player in the NCAA, but Boykin's hustle and TD saving tackle paid a huge dividend a few plays later when the Gator kicker missed a field goal.
For the next quarter and a half, it was Georgia who played like Georgia while Florida seemed to revert to former Gator squads with big plays, interceptions and scrambling passes for TDs as they built a 17-3 lead. Meanwhile, Georgia had turned it over inside their 20, missed a field goal and allowed a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
But then after a 14 play UGA drive ended in a missed 33 yard field goal by Blair Walsh, with under 4 minutes remaining in the first half, the two teams began to magically morph one into the other. In a word... things got ZANY. Florida snapped the ball past QB John Brantley for a 10 yard loss, got a false start penalty and then Chris Rainey fumbled the ball to Georgia at the Florida 25. Four plays later, on 4th and 5, freshman Michael Bennett made a very veteran catch in tight coverage for Georgia's first TD and the game went into the half with Georgia only trailing 17-10.
When the second half began, Georgia had its full complement of defensive starters and reserves available for the first time since the first quarter of the first game of the season. The addition of Shawn Williams and Kwame Geathers in the third quarter completed Todd Grantham's defense and from that point on, this is what Florida did:
11 plays for 5 yards, two delay of game penalties, zero first downs and a fumble to Georgia at the Florida 18.
13 plays for 7 yards, one first down, a false start and another delay of game.
In sum, Florida ran 24 plays netting 12 yards in the second half. Easy math says that Florida gained only 18 inches per play in the second half. Or, realistically, if you take out the 20 yards of penalties, they gained 32 yards on 24 plays which is 4 feet per play (or Boss Bailey's vertical leap per play.) Seven possessions, one first down. Their 3 points came courtesy of field position set up by a long kickoff return.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Dawgs managed another TD pass on 4th down and a grinding TD run from Richard Samuel to take the 24-20 lead that was good enough to win. Florida helped Georgia with 2 pass interference penalties on 3rd down. The only things Georgia did that were reminiscent of the usual Jacksonville crap was on special teams in which we missed another short field goal and punted the ball for only 24 and 36 yards when deep in our own end of the field, thereby giving Florida amazingly good field position. Fortunately, Grantham's defense was immovable and Florida never even scared the end zone in the second half.
Yes, it was opposite day in Jacksonville and we can only hope that this is the start of a new trend in the series. After all, Will Muschamp is now 0-5 in this game as a player and coach. Clearly he is jinxed in Jacksonville. Muschamp has a monkey on his back. This game is in his head and it affects his players too. Say it with me Dawgs. This is the new meme for the WLOCP.
I really don't care that this was a weak Florida team with a gimpy QB and after a few series, a gimpy running back. Blah, blah, blah. We won in Jacksonville. We needed the win to keep our SEC East chances alive. We needed the win for Coach Richt. We beat Muschamp despite his guarantee of a victory. It was a big deal and it will forever be in the minds of Hamp Tanner, the Georgia players and coaches and the entire Georgia fan base.
Way to go Dawgs! You really did GATA and made us all proud.