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November 1, 2009

New Look, Same Struggling Bulldogs

Wearing black pants for the first time in 11 years and black helmets for the first time in history, Georgia was handed an all-to-familiar result on Saturday (photo--Brant Sanderlin of AJC).

Florida 41, GEORGIA 17
Yesterday, Georgia entered its game with Florida having two weeks to prepare, an apparent new attitude towards the last half of its season, and wearing brand spanking new uniforms; nevertheless, the Bulldogs themselves got spanked.  Georgia lost its 17th of the last 20 games with the Gators, including the last two by an embarrassing, 90-27 combined score.

On offense, the Bulldogs actually "executed" better than I expected.  Beforehand, I did not envision them moving the ball much nor scoring more than 10 or so points against perhaps college football's best defense.  Georgia's 17 points and 286 yards are the third-most totals against the Florida defense this season in eight games; its 5.1 yards per offensive play, the second-highest average.  However, just as penalties hindered the Dogs during the first half, interceptions stymied the offense in the second.

Joe Cox and Logan Gray combined to throw four, costly interceptions--all in the second half--the first time in nine years (Quincy Carter tossed four of his five interceptions in the second half at South Carolina in 2000) and just the second time in 25 years (since Todd Williams threw four first-half interceptions against Clemson in 1984), Georgia was intercepted four times or more in a single half.

Georgia's defense had its few moments but, as been the case since the start of last season, was mostly ineffective and accommodating at the most pivotal moments.  The Bulldogs entered the game ranked last in the SEC, allowing opponents more than 40% of the time to gain five or more yards per play.  Florida's offense, a unit who had struggled in four of five conference games, gained 5+ yards on 50.8% of its plays.  Georgia also yielded 35 or more points for the ninth time in its last 17 games, recorded two or less sacks for the 14th game in the last 17, and, while committing four turnovers, did not force a single one.  Georgia has not forced more than one turnover in all eight games this season and just once in the last 13 contests (2008- Kentucky) since the Florida game a year ago.  Absolutely pathetic.

The Bulldogs' turnover-margin misery continues, currently ranking 119th of 120 FBS teams with a -1.88 margin.  In addition, of the nearly 400 teams in FBS, FCS, and Division II football, only three schools have a worse turnover margin than Georgia.

Penalties, committing turnovers, and not forcing turnovers on defense have been the main factors that have led to a disappointing season.  Georgia's lack of success reminds me of the Bulldog teams (1993-1996) I witnessed when I attended UGA--teams looming around .500, hoping for a mere winning record and bowl bid.  With that being said, Georgia is having its worse season in 13 years since the 1996 campaign--a season led by a first-year coach and following three consecutive years of sub-par records and just one bowl appearance.  What's the excuse for 2009?

Hopefully, Georgia can take three of its final four regular-season games, and maybe, with a lot of luck, win out through the end of the year.  But don't count on it.  "Old Lady Luck," unlike with other Georgia squads, has not smiled on the Bulldogs in '09.  She may be waiting and willing to do so, however, in the off-season.  If so, she can start by helping Georgia find a relatively error-free quarterback and replacing an assistant coach or two.  


Anonymous said...

bean May not have got in. What an idiot! Have you seen the athletes on Florida's offensive line ?! And we counter with fat Ben. Chris Davis and Boling ! Our coaches aren't color blind are they.

Mike Miller said...

As a long time (50 years) Florida Gator fan, I love your blog. Maybe there is a blog devoted to the Gators as good as yours, but I haven't found it yet.

As a young man, part of my passage to manhood was getting humiliated by the Dawgs almost every year. It taught a guy how to survive adversity.

I was in Jax for the game last Saturday, and it's obvious to me that the younger Gator and Dawg fans don't remember the eras when "them Dawgs" beat the hell out of us almost every year.

I hate to say it, but I miss the days when the Dawg fans had swagger and were obnoxious. Now that the roles have been reversed, the Gator fans expect victory and the Dawg fans sit quietly and take their abuse.

To young Gator fans, whipping Georgia is not big deal. To us old timers it's like another Christmas every year, a wonderful gift that we savor and treasure for the rest of the year.

History is a cyclical thing and I will never gloat. I advise my young Gator colleagues not to be too cocky. Them Dawgs can spoil a Gator season like no other team.

Patrick Garbin said...


My first memories of Ga-Fla were six wins in a row (1978-1983). So, it was quite a shock when, from 1984-1986, Georgia lost two of three. So, in dropping 17 of the last 20, although embarrassing and seemingly shocking, an annual loss to the Gators has become nearly expected every season.

However, as you stated, history is cyclical. My wife's grandfather attended UF during the late 1930s and was a die-hard Gator fan until his death in the late '80s. Unfortunately for him, he saw many a Florida team lose to Georgia. I've been told many times how much he hated to lose to the Dogs and when it occurred, which it usually did during his day, he'd always exclaim how "those damn, lucky Dawgs" kept beating his Gators. Georgia needs to regain some that damn luck... Thanks for reading a rival Dawg's blog and your kind words.