Georgia Bulldogs Football: 5 Keys To Victory In the Cocktail Party
Entering the 2010 version of the "Cocktail Party", the Georgia Bulldogs are on a three-game win streak and the Florida Gators are on a three-game losing streak.
Both teams trail the SEC East leading South Carolina Gamecocks by half of a game in the standings. Depending on what the Gamecocks do over the next few weeks, this game is considered an elimination game from the East race, giving the losing team four losses in conference.
On paper, this game is a even matchup, but considering where both of these teams are at this moment, the Bulldogs are considered the favorite to leave Jacksonville with the victory.
With that said, there are five keys Georgia must accomplish if they want to leave Jacksonville as a team gunning for a spot in the SEC championship game.
No. 1: Stop the Run
The Bulldogs enter the "Cocktail Party" ranked No. 12 in the nation against the run, giving up an average of 99 yards a game. With all of Florida's struggles on offense this season, the run game has been their bread and butter.
With RBs Demps, Gillislee and Moody banged up with nagging injuries, the Gators may turn to recently reinstated Chris Rainey to share the load with freshman Trey Burton. Burton has been Meyer's "Tebow-like" option, running the zone read play, but has been unable to muster the type of game that he had against Kentucky.
Can Georgia's front seven play disciplined football and slow down Florida's run attack?
No. 2: Preventing the Big Play
The Bulldogs secondary has been susceptible to the big pass play all season long. One reason the Gators have lost three straight games has been their inability to post big plays in both the run and pass game.
If the Dawgs can prevent the Gators from plays over 20 yards, they will be able to keep the momentum on their side. Two players that coach Richt will count on to make plays this Saturday will be Justin Houston and Akeem Dent.
Houston leads the SEC in sacks and Dent has been the most consistent player on the defensive side of the ball. If both of these players continue to play at a high level it could be a long day for Brantley and the Gators.
No. 3: Turnover Margin
Last season Georgia struggled in the turnover margin category in every game. Most notably were the four interceptions Joe Cox threw in the second half against the Gators.
So far this season the Dawgs are plus-eight in turnover margin on the year and plus-nine over the last three victories. Florida is plus-four in turnover margin on the year, but they are minus-six over the last three losses.
The turnover battle will definitely be a deciding factor in who will come out the victor.
No. 4: Special Teams Play
Georgia has arguably the top special teams unit in all of college football. They currently have the reigning Ray Guy award winner (P-Drew Butler) and a kicker who was a finalist for the Lou Groza award (K-Blair Walsh).
Most importantly, they have the top returner in CB Brandon Boykin, who returned his fourth kick return for a touchdown against Kentucky. His 100-yard return tied him for the SEC record for kick returns for touchdowns and he is only a sophomore.
If Butler is able to switch the field position and Boykin is able to give the Dawgs good field position on kick offs, it could be a good day to be a Georgia Bulldog.
No. 5: Aaron Murray
The deciding factor for Georgia in this game will be the quarterback play from Murray. He has shown, game after game, that he is a solid quarterback, even though he is a freshman. He currently is the most efficient freshman quarterback in the country.
He has continually made right decisions in the pass game and his athletic ability has given him the ability to escape pressure and run for first downs, with many of his runs resulting in touchdowns.
If Murray is able to continue to play at a high level and not make mistakes the Dawgs will win this game big.