The Georgia Bulldogs played one of the ugliest beautiful games you’ll ever see against their hated rival, the Florida Gators, Saturday.
It was a contest filled with turnovers, penalties, bad blood and good fun for the Bulldog Nation.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers for the Dawgs against the Gators in this year’s episode of the Cocktail Party.
Shawn Williams publicly called out his defensive teammates Monday as being “too soft.” Well, the chastisement was answered with incredible vigor by the Georgia defense.
The Georgia defense was flying all over the field and playing with a passion that has been absent all season.
And when you call out your teammates like Williams did, you’d better back it up with strong play. Williams did. He finished the night with six tackles and made a great play tracking down Solomon Patton on a 4th-and-1 in the first quarter.
Aaron Murray was squarely planted in the loser category up until the final period.
Murray had three first-half interceptions that were clearly his fault. A poor decision to throw into triple coverage resulted in the first pick. Murray made a bad pass behind his man that popped up for the second interception, and he had a pass sail on him that led to the final INT.
Still, Murray was able to keep his head on straight and played well when it counted in the fourth quarter. Murray completed five of his eight attempts in the final quarter, one of which hit Tavarres King in the chest and was dropped.
Murray capped the fourth with a huge 45-yard touchdown strike to Malcolm Mitchell for the final score of the game.
Hopefully, Murray can build off this momentum and play a more complete game in the next big-pressure environment, which is looking like it will be the SEC championship game.
Granted, this was an emotional game against the Dawgs’ biggest rival with the season on the line, but that’s still no excuse for the ridiculous amount of penalties the Bulldogs racked up in Jacksonville.
Georgia was flagged 14 times for 138 yards.
What was so frustrating, besides all the yardage given up, was that most of the penalties were stupid personal fouls that could have easily been avoided.
Most notably, after both sides had been clearly warned to stop jawing after the play, Malcolm Mitchell still couldn’t keep his mouth shut after a good reception. Fortunately, Mitchell was able to redeem himself with a 45-yard touchdown reception later in the drive.
The Georgia offensive line has been a question mark since the beginning of the season.
It clearly struggled against the first elite defense it faced at South Carolina and was expected to do the same against a very strong Florida squad. It didn’t happen.
The line held up well in pass protection, surrendering zero sacks. It also was able to get a good push and open lanes for Todd Gurley, especially in the first half.
Todd Gurley had been bottled up the last two games against South Carolina and Kentucky.
Against Florida, Gurley looked more like his early-season self and had a great day against a Florida defense that has been stout against the run.
Although he didn’t have any of the huge, breakaway runs that came so often early in the season, Gurley finished the night with 118 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
Clearly, a healthy Jarvis Jones simply cannot be stopped.
The Bulldog Nation has not forgotten how Jones took over the Missouri game in the fourth quarter.
Against the Gators, Jones dominated the entire game. He finished the game with 13 total tackles, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
As if that wasn’t enough, one of the forced fumbles came inside the 5-yard line as Jordan Reed looked to be headed for the end zone for a potentially game-tying touchdown with about two minutes to go in the game.
Needless to say, Jones was the MVP of this game.
Coming into this game, many critics—this writer included—were quick to point out Georgia’s recent inability to play well against quality opponents.
Georgia desperately needed a signature victory to break out of its big-game funk. This one couldn’t have come at a better time for Richt and the Dawgs.
Not only does this victory spoil the championship hopes of arch rival Florida, but it puts the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat for the SEC East title and a return trip to Atlanta in December.
Had the Bulldogs dropped this game, Richt would have had to wait until next season for that elusive signature win. Gladly, the Richt and the Dawgs got it out of the way Saturday and have renewed their championship hopes for 2012.