Georgia football fans are ready for the season, and more importantly, ready to silence disillusioned Gator fans.
Now that it’s officially summer, preseason projections are everywhere. From the playoffs to individual matchups, everyone has their own take. But, one thing most experts seem to agree on is that the Georgia Bulldogs will beat the Florida Gators in their annual SEC East matchup in Jacksonville.
Of course, Florida fans vehemently disagree citing their soon to be revealed stellar defense and Dan Mullen’s ability to replace a Heisman contender quarterback with the famed Emory Jones.
Being the superstitious person that I am, I refuse to make game predictions. Don’t want to jinx anything you know. So, here’s five reasons why the experts are right and UGA has a really good shot to beat Florida.
Georgia football vs Florida football, and why the Dawgs will win
1. Jordan Davis
At 6’6 and 340 pounds, Jordan Davis is the anchor of Georgia’s defensive line. While his sheer size alone makes him a must to guard up the middle, Davis is also fast and extremely talented, frequently picking up two offensive linemen at a time. As he’s been known to say in interviews, “Two on me, one free.” Also, in case you forgot, he was one of several defensive players who did not play against Florida last year due to an injury.
2. UGA’s pass rush
While the secondary might be a weak link early in the season, UGA’s pass rush will have improved substantially from last year. The young DB’s won’t have to worry about covering a receiver or tight end for 5+ seconds because the defensive line and linebackers won’t give the opposing quarterbacks that much time in the pocket.
With Jordan Davis picking up two guys, that leaves Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith, or Travon Walker uncovered. While all three of them will be serious threats in this area with their speed and experience, I’m fully onboard the Adam Anderson hype train.
Go back and watch any of the games from last season. If there’s a play where Georgia got pressure on the quarterback, most likely Adam Anderson was in and one of the first guys back there. He will be the guy to take over Azeez Ojulari’s role and be the key to a successful pass rush against Florida’s offensive line.
3. James Cook
While UGA’s run game should be amazing all around, James Cook will be key to this matchup. While I expect Zamir White and Kendall Milton to both put up great numbers all season, Cook’s senior year should be one to remember.
While not as much of a power runner as White and Milton, Cook is elusive and versatile. And with a year of experience in Monken’s offense for both him and JT Daniels, Cook becomes a reliable wild card for UGA. Whether he gets the ball in his hands from a handoff, jet sweep, or pass up the middle, you can expect a big play and positive yardage for the Dawgs.
4. JT Daniels
It’s no secret that I am a huge Stetson Bennett fan. I firmly believe that the Mailman would have delivered a victory against Florida last year if not for his injury. But that being said, Daniels will make a huge difference in this game.
His arm strength and accuracy combined with a killer receiving corps will create a UGA passing attack that will be extremely hard to defend. Add in a year of Monken’s offense and increased mobility and Daniels should be good to go.
But, if anything did happen to him, I still think Stetson Bennett could pull the Dawgs through this game with a win. Consistency and experience in the new offense is the main key to this position. Plus, having lived through several years of Todd Grantham’s supposedly elite defenses, I don’t expect them to be the deciding factor in this matchup.
5. Kirby Smart
To put it plain and simple, Kirby Smart hates to lose. And as a UGA alum who was there when Steve Spurrier hung half a hundred on the Dawgs in Sanford Stadium, Smart really hates to lose to Florida.
He might preach that no game is more important than another, but his smile after beating the Gators says otherwise. The annual rivalry and Battle for the Border just means more. And you can bet Smart we’ll have the Dawgs ready to go for that October matchup in hopes that he can once again say, “Welcome to Jacksonville, Georgia.”
So who’s going to win? Only time will tell. But Georgia dominates the preseason advantages in this matchup and anyone who says otherwise is out for laughs.