Georgia football vs. Florida Gators
The Georgia football season wouldn’t be complete without its annual trip down to Jacksonville to take down the Florida Gators. There has been so much debate about the neutral site venue this offseason, but most Georgia fans feel passionate about where this game is. So it’s an easy one to circle on the calendar.
But this season’s game has spice, as there have been personnel changes in Gainesville since the last meeting between these old arch-enemies. Dan Mullen is no longer in charge with the Gators replacing Mullen with Louisiana Head coach Billy Napier. Napier has a sky-high reputation following his time with the Ragin’ Cajuns, but a slow start to recruiting has Gator fans on edge.
The head coach at Florida is constantly under pressure. Napier seems the kind of character who is unlikely to shirk a challenge.
He favors the run game, or at least that was his M.O. while at Louisiana. So assuming he doesn’t rip up the playbook and start again, this will be a major boost for the Georgia football defense. The Dawgs are elite at snuffing out the run game.
While it was last season, let’s look back to the playoff game against Michigan to see how Georgia negated Big Blue’s much fancied run game. Nolan Smith put on a masterclass that day, and fortunately, he returns to lead the Georgia defense again this season.
What about the quarterback situation? The Gators were a mess at times last season, and the chaos was no better exemplified than with the quarterbacks. Florida started the season with star quarterback Emory Jones under center. Jones had an indifferent season throwing 13 interceptions during the Gators’ losing season. Jones entered the transfer portal at the end of the season and is now fighting for the starting position at Arizona State.
With Jones gone, Florida will likely turn to Anthony Richardson as the starter. Richardson’s Florida season last year was plagued by injuries meaning his potential was only seen fleetingly. So, as much as there is hype around Richardson’s NFL Draft status, his college potential remains somewhat untested.
Finally, this is another neutral venue for the Dawgs to play in. Like Mercedes Benz stadium, TIAA Bank stadium in Jacksonville is a well-known venue for Georgia football and its fans to visit. The subject of the neutral venue has again become emotive in recent weeks.
Head coach Kirby Smart has been vocal about moving the game away from the Jacksonville neutral venue back to campuses. Smart firmly believes it places the Bulldogs at a recruiting disadvantage compared with other SEC teams who don’t play at a neutral venue.
He has a point. However, this is a game that Georgia and Florida’s fans look forward to each season. It is also one of college football’s showcase games. It is a tradition.