Georgia-Florida 2013: A Tale of Two Halves

georgia_floridaThis post began in the second quarter of the Georgia-Florida game when it appeared UGA would cruise to a win.

What a Difference a Gurley Makes
UGA running back Todd Gurley made his presence known early and often against Florida.  Gurley scored two touchdowns within the first ten minutes of the contest.  His performance seemed to inspire the defense, which used a red zone stop to keep the Gators from answering early.  At this point, Gurley had to leave the field due to exhaustion.

Thankfully, Todd Gurley returned to the game after a short break. In total, the weary Dawg ran for 100 yards on 17 carries, logging the 12th 100 yard game of his career. He also led the Dawgs in receiving yardage on the strength of his 73 yard catch and run.  Quarterback Aaron Murray should get a lot of credit for his three wins over Florida, but TGII was the difference maker in 2013.

Imagine How Good this Team Would Have Been Without Injuries (First Half)
When Georgia took a 14-0 lead, CBS color commentator Gary Danielson asked play-by-play man Verne Lunquist to imagine how good the Dawgs would be had they been able to stay healthy.  One can only wonder, but the future is bright in Athens.

Georgia’s Offensive Line Needs to Play like this Every Week (First Half)
Georgia’s offensive line was flawless in the first quarter.  If the unit were more consistent, Georgia would probably be a bigger factor in the SEC East race.  The Bulldogs were able to sustain drives and keep their paw on UF’s neck.  If football were only two quarters, the Dawgs would have done a masterful job of keeping the Gators down.

Bulldog Nation Used Their Bye Week Wisely (First Half)
UGA dominated the Gators in the first quarter. The Bulldogs built a 17 point lead by racking up nearly 250 yards in the opening frame.  Other than one big play that did not result in any points, the Bulldog defense kept the Florida punt team busy.  I do wish punt returner Reggie Davis would call for a fair catch more often, though.

Arthur Lynch’s Bonehead Play of The Day/The Safety (Second Half)
When Florida missed a field goal to open the second half, it looked as if the Dawgs were going to devour the Gators in the third quarter.  Instead, Arthur Lynch dropped a football that was ruled a lateral. From there, Florida seized the momentum.  It is hard to tell what the senior tight end was thinking, the whistle had not blown.

The Georgia Football Roller Coaster Continues (Second Half)
As soon as Lynch dropped the ball, he lamented his error as opposed to finishing the play.  Florida recovered the fumble. Nearly the entire second half was a microcosm of what a roller coaster the 2013 Georgia football campaign has been.

Later in the third quarter, Georgia was backed up inside their own five to begin a possession.  The drive only lasted one play, as a play-action pass led to a safety for the Gator defense.  The television commentary suggested Aaron Murray should have called an audible. Regardless of who is to blame, the safety opened the door for UF to close in on the Dawgs.

Celebrate Like It is 1989
At the end of the game, all that mattered to Bulldog Nation is Georgia left Jacksonville on top for the third straight year. The occasion marked the first time UGA has taken three straight from the Gators since 1987-1989. The Dawgs survived a bowling shoe ugly second half to beat Florida by a score of 23-20. There was a slew of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both sides, but those can probably be chalked up to the intensity of the rivalry.

Bulldog Nation moves on to Appalachian State, while Florida fans are likely to make coach Muschamp’s backside feel a new degree of heat.
dawgs_gators_fight

Maddawg’s Play of The Day College Football Week 9 – (October 30, 2011)

ugamaddawg_todd_grantham

Georgia's Defense Mauled the Gators

Week nine of the 2011 college football season yielded jubilation in Jacksonville for Georgia Bulldog Nation. At times the game was bowling shoe ugly, but, in the end the Dawgs dropped the Gators by a final score of 24-20. Georgia has won six games in a row, while Florida is left to pick up the pieces having lost four straight. However, there won’t even be a crocodile tear shed here.

The latest chapter in the “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic” was not about a singular moment or key play. Ultimately, It was about a Georgia football team and their fan base being desperate for redemption after almost two full decades of torture from a despised rival. In the post-game interview on CBS, Georgia head coach Mark Richt echoed that sentiment when he said that he was not thinking about the SEC East at the moment, he just wanted to enjoy the win with his football team.

Georgia was far from perfect in victory, but the Bulldogs answered the bell at every key moment. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dawgs chased down Jeff Demps and prevent him from scoring on a 72 yard screen pass. As a result of their effort, Georgia was able to force Florida kicker Brad Philips into a 38 yard field goal try that he missed.

In the second quarter the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in desperation mode. The Dawgs were down 17-3 and needed a score to help the dwindling morale of players and fans alike. On fourth down with five yards to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit wide receiver Michael Bennett with a 20 yard touchdown pass that gave Bulldog Nation hope. Georgia headed into halftime trailing only 17-10.

Turnovers sealed Georgia’s fate in the previous visit to Jacksonville, but, this year it was Florida’s turn to fumble their lead away. Gator receiver Frankie Hammond coughed up the football on the Florida 18 yard line and the Bulldogs were there to pounce on the gift. It took all four downs, but, Aaron Murray found wide receiver Tavarres King with a 14 yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game and send Bulldog Nation into a frenzy.

With Georgia trailing 20-17 entering the final frame, the game began to resemble that of a heavyweight title fight in the late rounds. Both teams were battered and each was trying to land a decisive blow. To the delight of Dawg fans, the knockout punch came in the form of Richard Samuel, embattled running back who had struggled to identify his role on the team.

Richard Samuel took it upon himself to do his part in helping the Georgia offense as he ran through tackles, and, pounded the tired Gator defense into submission. After a pass interference penalty kept a Georgia drive alive early in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs rode on the back of Samuel as he scored on a four yard touchdown run. Georgia Bulldogs 24, Gators 20.

Georgia denied Florida’s attempts to take back the lead as they were determined to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a high note. When Georgia got the football back with 5:32 left to go in the game the Bulldogs knew they could not give the Gators another opportunity. Following a surprising 18 yard throw to wide out Chris Conely, Georgia was poised to run out the clock.

Georgia’s season defining battle with Florida had some of the key elements of Bulldog success that have been highlighted by this blog. Mark Richt made two gutsy fourth down calls that led to euphoria, Georgia executed a textbook drive before halftime that gave them momentum, but, there is apparently something wrong with kicker Blair Walsh.

Maddawg’s Play Of The Day belongs to Richard Samuel. It is dedicated to every member of Bulldog Nation that believed Georgia would turn their Jacksonville fortune around. For those that stand by Mark Richt for as long as he is our football coach, yesterday was a small measure of vindication. If we can get a little help from the Razorbacks, or even the Gators, maybe the Georgia Bulldogs can shock the college football world by taming the LSU Tigers, or turning back the Alabama Crimson Tide.