Coming into this matchup in Jacksonville, most fans of college football were hoping that Dan Mullen would start Anthony Richardson, thinking it would keep things competitive. Well, for almost two quarters, we thought it would turn out to be a battle. Boy, were we wrong.
Up until the 2:22 mark in the second quarter, both teams combined to score three points and recorded four punts, with 2 missed FG’s in the first quarter alone. It looked as though Florida had figured out a way to stop the Georgia running game. The Dawgs were held to only a field goal on their first five drives of the game, but Florida never made them pay. But, we were about to witness the game fall from the hands of the Gators, in a two minute span.
After intercepting Stetson Bennett, Florida took over inside their own five yard line. Two plays later, Anthony Richardson was stripped, leading to James Cook rushing it in, one play later for the touchdown. The craziness had just begun, as Richardson was intercepted by Nolan Smith, giving the Dawgs great field position. On the very next play, Stetson Bennett hooked up with Kearis Jackson for the 36-yard touchdown, giving Georgia a 17-0 lead.
Just when you thought it was over, Nakobe Dean picked off Anthony Richardson and returned it 50 yards for the touchdown, and the Dawgs led 24-0. It was over in a span of 2:09, and there was nothing the Gators could do about it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game flip that quick, but Florida continues to come up with ways to lose a game.
It’s the fifth time this season that the Bulldogs defense has blanked a team in the first half. UF came in averaging 34.4 points a game. Georgia has outscored its opponents 185 to 16 in the first half this year.
The most interesting part of the game was Georgia keeping JT Daniels on the sidelines for the entire game. Honestly, they never needed him, as Bennett continued to play well enough and his defensive teammates put up another stellar performance. It never felt as if Anthony Richardson was comfortable in the pocket, especially with some of the play calling. The Gators tried multiple times to catch Georgia off-guard, trying a running back pass or having Emory Jones line up at receiver, for a double-pass. On the defensive side, Georgia never bit, as the Gators trickery fell flat.
When Kirby Smart was asked about the type of players they have on defense and how they perform every week, he broke it down real simple.
“There’s no coach out there that you can out-coach recruiting. No coaching is going to out-coach players. Anybody will tell you our defense is good because we have good players.”
Even without Kendall Milton at running back, Georgia didn’t seem to miss a beat, as Zamir White rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. In all, the Dawgs rushed for 193 yards on the day, converting 18 first downs as well.
There wasn’t much good news to come for the Gators today, as Anthony Richardson was taken to the locker room, after taking a hit. Emory Jones entered the game and finished 10-14 for 112 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. So, now the QB questions will start coming again for Dan Mullen, but it won’t matter unless Richardson is healthy. He threw for 82 yards and 2 interceptions, before getting hurt.
Dan Mullen discussed where his team is at right now, at 4-4 on the season, with a team that looks to be on a completely different level than Georgia.
“We’re not where we want to be. I am not where we want to be at this point of the season”
“In the final third of the season, it’s on me to get this fixed,” Mullen added. “And I certainly plan on doing that, of changing where we’re at right now.”
When he was asked about the talent gap between the two teams, the answer was pretty bland, especially if you were looking for an in-depth answer. “We were better last year, they were better this year,” Mullen said.
The Gators were just another speed bump that Georgia cruised right over, as this game was over when the teams went into the locker room at halftime. Now, the Dawgs move one step closer to the SEC Championship game, while Florida moves to 4-4 on the season and fans are looking for some kind of life out of the Dan Mullen-led program. Florida is now 2-7 against power-5 teams over tha last nine games.
Stetson Bennett is now 9-2 as the starting quarterback at Georgia, having beaten Arkansas, Kentucky, Auburn and Florida this season. This is a football team led by their defense and rushing attack, and as they showed you today, it will be hard for any team to stop this train. The Dawgs will have to derail it themselves, if they are going to drop a game this season.
I don’t see this train coming off the track, especially with that defense leading the way.
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