The rivalry between Georgia football and Florida can be very personal to a lot of people, especially players and coaches on both sides. We all know how much this game means to head coach Kirby Smart, who always has this game circled on the calendar every year. He has injected this same passion for this rivalry into his players many times over the years.
In a meeting before the game in 2017, Smart asked players who had beaten Florida in their Georgia careers to stand up. Unfortunately, no one could stand up, as the Gators had beaten the Dawgs three straight times leading up to that game. Smart used that moment to motivate Georgia’s eventual 42-7 route of Florida that season.
Of course, we’ve all heard the now infamous halftime speech that Kirby gave his players during the 2021 Georgia-Florida game. In the leaked clip, Smart referenced the 2020 matchup in which the Gators ran through the Bulldogs 44-28. He spoke of the disappointing looks he saw from the players, particularly the seniors and those leaving for the NFL. This fiery speech helped the Dawgs shut down the Gators through much of the second half en route to a 34-7 victory.
Georgia football still has a chip on its shoulder about the 2020 Florida loss.
Since that loss to Florida, Georgia has had a record of 25-1, and they have not lost a game in the regular season since. The Gators, meanwhile, have gone 14-13.
Despite their incredible success, that loss to Florida in 2020 still haunts this Georgia team. In a recent interview, Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson spoke about how the players still have “a chip on their shoulder” two years later. The sophomore from Maryland wasn’t even on the team in 2020.
Dumas-Johnson also spoke about how the team didn’t listen to pre-game trash talking and said the players “let their pads do the talking for them.” Despite having the bragging rights of being the reigning national champions, Georgia players know this is a new season, and the only concern is winning each game.
In his first year as a starter, Dumas-Johnson has already emerged as one of the team’s vocal leaders. He currently has 33 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks on the season.
He gained notoriety in the game against Missouri by getting into a heated conversation with cornerback Kamari Lassiter after the Tigers scored a touchdown.
As another edition of this historic rivalry draws closer, let’s hope that the Dawgs can continue to draw on the motivation of the 2020 loss and dominate the Gators in Jacksonville. The players, and Kirby Smart, will be ready.