Alright, folks… We are back. The Dawgs are through the bye week and we are hitting the toughest stretch of Georgia’s schedule. This is the time of year when the pretenders are separated from the treats who are truly elite. How will Georgia hold up? As always, I dug into tape, advanced stats and performance metrics to see how Georgia-Florida should play out on Saturday in Jacksonville.
Okay, a few things you should know…
- We have an efficient UGA Rushing Offense going against the very porous Rushing Defense of Florida. The Dawgs are averaging 6.2 YPC and are 1st in the FBS with a Rushing Success Rate of 59.6%.
- We also have an efficient UGA Passing Offense going against a very porous Florida Passing Defense. UGA’s Passing Down Success Rate is 2nd in the country. When you take into account that UGA is 1st in Offensive Success Rate and Rush Success Rate it tells us that… A) Georgia is rarely off schedule. The Dawgs get good yardage on 1st & 2nd down. B) It also lets us know that Georgia is very good on 3rd & long when they find themselves in them. The book on Stetson Bennett used to be that he wasn’t good on 3rd and long. So far this year he has been better than any QB in college football in those situations.
- We have a Florida is 1st in Rushing Explosiveness in the country. They are going against a good UGA Rushing Defense. UF’s Rushing Success Rate is 45.1%, which isn’t great but also not terrible. When they do bust a run they really bust a run.
- Kentucky, LSU and Missouri are the three teams who have hold UF under a 47% Offensive SR. The Wildcats held the Gators to a 33.9% Success Rate. Mizzou held Florida to a 40.3% Success Rate. Against LSU the Gators put up a 39% Offensive Success Rate.
- Richardson’s Rushing Predicted Points Added (.651) is almost 2x higher than his Passing PPA (.353)… He is much more likely to make big plays with his feet than his arm.
Let’s look at the tape…
- The LSU DL is the best one Florida has faced so far this year. They did a pretty good job of keeping UF’s ground game contained until the 4th quarter when Richardson broke a 81 yard run. If you want to shutdown this UF offense the key is stopping the run on early downs and forcing AR into obvious passing situations.
- Richardson is at his best when going deep off of play-action. He averages 12.9 YPA and has a 63.3% completion on play-action. On all other throws he is 5.9 YPA and 51.4% completion. Shorter is the only true deep threat. Shorter is a former 5-star who transferred from Penn State. He isn’t going to burn anyone with his speed but he has made some nice plays this year. If your safeties misplay something or bite too hard on play-action Shorter can make you pay for it. (18 REC/36 TGT 405 YDS 2 TD’s)
- On tape you often see what AR’s athleticism can do. He’ll be pressured 12 yards in the backfield and use his athleticism to avoid a sack, rollout to the boundary, and turn the play into a 5 yard gain with his legs. There’s a big difference between 2nd & 5 and 2nd & 22. You have to set the edges of the pocket to contain him and also try to tackle him in the backfield.
- An injury to watch is Florida RG O’Cyrus Torrance. He didn’t play versus LSU and #67 Richie Leonard IV filled in for him. Torrance is UF’s best Run Blocker with a 91.2 Grade. If he is limited or out it’s a huge problem for the Gators. If he can go it will be a test for UGA’s interior DL. Florida runs behind him a lot and he is a very good pass protector as well. Torrance will likely be a high round draft picks
- Trevor Etienne is UF’s best RB in my opinion. He’s averaging 6.3 YPC this year but LSU held him to just 3.5 YPC on 8 rushes. UF runs a lot of Zone Scheme. You will remember that Georgia struggled to defend Zone Concepts against Mizzou but was excellent defending it against Auburn and Vandy. Former 5-Star Lorenzo Lingard is UF’s 3rd RB behind Etienne and Montreal Johnson Jr. Johnson has been the guy who has gotten the most carries lately. He’s a Sun Belt transfer who came with Napier. He had 13 carries for 57 yards and 2 TD’s against the Tigers. 39 of it came on one run in the 2nd quarter.
- This offense is at its best if it just fully embraces the run. This Florida team has a pretty good OL who can get out on the edge and move people, but it’s just not quite consistent enough. When things click they really click they can bust a big play. That’s why their Rushing Explosiveness numbers are so good.
- I want to make a key point here. Florida’s WR’s are not special. Even when AR has time to throw they often can’t get separation. Richardson’s legs are really good at extending plays, but even then he isn’t finding open receivers.
- Florida’s OL has created some BIG explosive runs this year, but on a down to down basis they’re much more likely to let things get stopped for a loss or a minimal gain. This is not the time to miss a run fit if you’re UGA. They haven’t done it since Missouri. If they can stay sound in their lanes on Saturday they have a great chance of shutting this Florida offense down.
- More on the WR’s… There are lots of times where Florida will be in a 3rd & 7 type of situation and there will be nowhere to throw the ball so Richardson checks it down. You see this a lot. Georgia will have to rally to the ball.
- You cannot leave the middle of the field open for even a second against AR. There aren’t a ton of designed runs for him in this offense but he often takes off running on passing plays. That happens even more when UF plays good secondaries because their WR’s struggle to separate. AR can get yards on the edge but he will really hurt you if you give him straight line lanes. It will be important for UGA to be good with their spies. Having Mondon’s speed/athleticism back in the lineup should help considerably against Richardson.
- Richardson still struggles with accuracy. This is particularly true with short/intermediate throws. He actually throws a pretty nice deep ball, but he tends to miss open players over the middle and throw the ball too hard on in and out breaking routes.
- Play-Action + Richardson’s Athleticism often equals open WR’s when he rolls out. He just doesn’t hit them at a high enough frequency for this UF offense to be consistent. Still, you don’t want to leave it up to him to miss receivers. Georgia has to be disciplined with their eyes on play action.
- The Florida OL has been pretty good this year but they can be had. The Center #65 Kingsley Eguakun has been the most consistent pass protector with Torrence being stellar as well. They have only allowed 5 pressures. The Tackles are not as good. RT #70 Austin Barber has given up 8 pressures. LT #76 Richard Gouraige has given up 9. The RG Leonard blows the protection here. If Torrence can’t play watch for UGA to try and overload the right side and confuse him like LSU did at times. Also, Etienne is AWFUL at picking up pass rushers.
- There are some moments on tape where you can see what gets people excited about AR. He’ll extend a play and then hit a strike in a tight window. He just doesn’t make those types of throws nearly enough.
- Pearsall is UF’s best WR imo. He’s speedy enough to get separation over the middle. He has 16 REC’s on 24 TGT’s for 303 YDS. He works the middle and the aforementioned Shorter works the boundaries.
- You have to tackle Richardson and you can’t let him get downhill into space. Once he gets open field and starts rolling he’s very hard to bring down. UGA’s defenders have to break down and keep their eyes on his hips. He’s tricky if you don’t and he can stop/start quickly. It’s imperative to get low and wrap up. If you try to tackle Richardson by knocking him over with your shoulder pads he will make you look silly. Kirby Smart teams have always been excellent tacklers. Saturday will be a good test of where this group is tight now with its tackling.
- The Gators got a little something going to Xzavier Henderson in the 4th quarter against LSU. They run a ton of pre-snap jet-sweep motion and they finally cashed those fakes in when they needed a drive late against LSU. Henderson can be dangerous in space. He had 4 REC/5 TGT for 42 YDS in that game. He has 25 REC/35 TGT for 248 YDS on the year. He is more of a short throw receiver.
- UF’s leading pass rusher is our old friend Mr. Brenton Cox Jr. He has 19 pressures and 2 sacks so far this year. He’s not great but he can flash at times. The good news for UGA is that Cox plays on the Edge. He’s a speed rusher and Broderick Jones/Warren McClendon have historically been good with those. Cox often struggles to wrap-up. He can be a good edge setter in the run game at times but he’s just not very consistent.
- Ventrell Miller is Florida’s best 2nd level defender. He is the highest graded Run Defender on the team by a large margin. He grades out at 88.1. The next highest Gator is Edge Princely Umanmielen at 78.9. 23 of Miller’s 34 Tackles against the run have been STOP plays, which means he’s good at stuffing out run plays and shooting into the backfield. UGA’s interior OL will need to watch for him crashing gaps.
- Plays where the opposing quarterback has time to sit back and pick the Gators apart have been more common for the Florida defense than plays like the one where I saw Cox jump the snap and get pressure. Their secondary has struggled mightily when QB’s have time. #0 Trey Dean has been putrid in coverage. Against LSU he sucks up and lets LSU WR Kayshon Boutte get free while in Zone Coverage. He then misses the tackle after the catch. Against LSU: 4 TGT’s/3 REC’s 67 YDS (21 YAC allowed). He is undisciplined with his eyes.
- UF has the capacity to be good against the run. Their first string of DL players is good. #9 is Gervon Dexter, a highly recruited interior lineman. The problem for UF is their front 4 wears down because of the lack of depth. The front four plays hard and fairly well early in the game but starts to wear out halfway through the 2nd quarter. They come out of halftime refreshed but wear back down again late in the 3rd. Georgia will want to run the ball early and often and deliver body blows to this thin Florida front.
- This Gator defense isn’t very good in short yardage. LSU’s OL has struggled all year and has had some injuries of late, but they were able to push Florida off the ball on 4th & 2 in the red zone. Expect Georgia to be comfortable running the ball in short yardage and also willing to roll the dice on 4th and short if Smart wants to.
- Teams have had success throwing to HB’s out of the backfield against UF. LSU hit Emery for 3 REC’s and 24 YDS with 1 TD on 4 TGT’s. Tennessee hit Jabari Small for 3 TGT/3 REC for 32 YDS & 1 TD… Miller 11 REC’s allowed on 13 TGT’s for 132 YDS & 1 TD (89 YAC allowed). McIntosh should have some opportunities catching the ball out of the backfield. If UGA gets Bowers/Washington matched up on Miller it’s a big play waiting to happen.
- You can get on the edge against this UF defense. The Edges aren’t great against the run, particularly Cox. Utah used its TE’s to run for 7.1 YPC on 15 carries off the right and left edges. Look for UGA to load up on the edges behind Darnell Washington & Brock Bowers in this game.
- Against LSU you can see #16 Tre’vez Johnson in coverage in the slot. He looks lost and blows a pretty simple coverage assignment off the snap. Johnson leads UF in receptions allowed (16 REC/20 TGT, 140 YDS). Daniels was 4/7 on 20+ YRD throws for 139 YDS (19.9 YPA) 2 TD/0 INT against the Gators. This secondary is prone to leaving some nice throwing windows down the field.
- Boundary CB #23 Jaydon Hill has a better coverage grade than Johnson, but he’s not much better. He has allowed 13 REC’s on 18 TGT’s for 188 YDS. There’s lots of guys to pick on across this UF pass defense.
- Was talking earlier about Miller getting picked on in coverage. LSU targeted him 5 times for 5 catches, 57 YDS and 1 TD. They do it with the TE at one point and just clear out the middle of the field to put Miller in space. It could be exciting to see what UGA’s TE’s can do with this matchup.
- The Tigers were able to run for some big chunks in the hole between Center and RG as the UF defensive line started to wear down. The Tigers had 6 carries for 71 yards in that hole. 59 of them came after contact. They did it running RIGHT AT Gervon Dexter. The big DT misses a lot of tackles as games wear on. He just gets tired and struggles to make the play even while often being in position to make a tackle.
Our old friend Jalen Kimber is #8. He’s only played 61 Coverage snaps this year and has been targeted once for every 5.5 coverage snaps. He only played 8 snaps against the Tigers but gave up a TD as a Boundary CB where he just gets out physicaled for the ball and beat to the spot on a Go Route. On the year he has given up 7 REC’s on 11 TGT’s for 135 YDS and 2 TD’s.
- LSU gets a free play and Daniels picks on #23 Hill again. UGA is without AD Mitchell, but there are big plays to be had down the boundaries against these CB’s. Arian Smith might have an explosive play or two and Bowers/Washington could dominate these DB’s on 50/50 shots down the sideline.
- LSU had lots of yards after contact against this Florida DL as they wore down.
- It feels worth mentioning that Bennett’s legs can be a weapon in this game if UGA needs them to be. Florida has been hurt a lot by mobile quarterbacks.
- LSU QB Jayden Daniels against Florida: 5/6 for 89 YDS on throws between 10-19 YDS. He was 1/4 for 17 YDS against Auburn. Daniels was also 8/10 for 98 YDS and a TD on play-action.
- 3rd & 6 and LSU goes to pick on Hill again. He feels like a major weakness for UF
I have spent a lot of the bye week thinking that Georgia might want to come out against Florida and really get the vertical passing game humming before the Vols come to town. After watching the tape and thinking about how these teams matchup more I think that is less likely. That isn’t to say UGA won’t take a deep shot or two in this game, but the reality is that Georgia can just lean on Florida.
The base package stuff that the Dawgs have run all year will do just fine in this game. Why burn any of the cards in Monken’s deck when your OL can wear this front down and your skill players should have matchup advantages all over the field? I think the TE’s can have a very big day on Saturday. Darnell and Bowers combine for a good chunk of yards almost every week, but I think this can be a big day for them even by there standards. Do not be surprised to see one or both line up outside for some snaps on the boundary. McConkey and Blaylock will have big advantages in the slot and I won’t be surprised if both make some chunk catches. This could also be the week Arian Smith breaks out. Above all, I think UGA can do a ton of damage with its screen game and throwing to McIntosh out of the backfield.
On the ground, Georgia should have plenty of success as long as the OL picks up where it left off against Auburn and Vanderbilt. This team can score a lot of ways against this Florida team. If they want to hit 50 in this game I think they can get in that neighborhood. It all depends on how long this thing stays competitive and UGA keeps its foot on the gas.
That brings us to the defense. If Florida cannot run for 3-4 yards consistently on 1st and 2nd down this game is going to get sideways in a hurry. The biggest question is how many explosive plays can UF create. I think they can hit one or two, but I don’t think they can make enough of those plays to make this game competitive for very long. I expect Georgia to continue being good against the run on Saturday. Florida will have some success, but I just don’t think they can drive the ball down the field in small chunks.
Going back years now, Georgia has been a team that doesn’t give up long touchdowns when they allow big plays. Maybe Richardson breaks a big play on the ground or UF hits a nice downfield shot off of play-action. If they do the chances are high that Georgia will make a tackle and force Florida to play them in the red zone. I don’t think UF can do enough damage against Georgia when the field shrinks.
The simple question is this- Do I think Georgia’s defense is more similar to defenses like Tennessee, LSU and Utah who the Gators have had success against? Or, do I think UGA is more similar to the two teams Florida has played with Top 25 defenses? Obviously, I think Georgia’s defense is legit. Because of that, I have to wonder if things breakdown entirely for this UF offense. Richardson passed for 66 yards against Mizzou while UF ran for 231 on the ground. Against Kentucky the Gators had 143 passing yards and 136 rushing yards. I think that’s about what we should expect on Saturday, if not a little less.
Florida will play hard early, but Richardson still has a mental scar from what this UGA defense did to him last year. He said he flashed back to the 2021 game when he threw a pick six against Kentucky. If things don’t go well early or he has a turnover he could get quite shaky.
All of that is just too many things that can go wrong for the Gators…
Georgia 48 - Florida 13
***To see some of the game tape I used to make these notes and breakdown this Gator team give our DawgsCentral Georgia-Florida Film Preview a watch below
Edited by Graham Coffey