Florida will get back on track with win over 'Dawgs
Posted: Friday October 28, 2005 12:33PM; Updated: Friday October 28, 2005 10:35PM
We've been spoiled. In the first seven weeks of the season, there has been a steady slate of marquee games each Saturday. But this weekend's docket is less than stellar. At least we have a cocktail party in the middle of the day. Florida is coming off a much-needed bye week, while Georgia could use a week off after losing starting quarterback D.J. Shockley to a knee injury last Saturday. With both offenses struggling, expect this one to be dominated by two outstanding defenses.
(4) Georgia vs. (16) Florida
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Alltel Stadium (80,000)
Florida will need running back DeShawn Wynn to jumpstart the offense if the Gators are going to pick up a win against Georgia.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The biggest question dogging Florida fans over the past month is: What's wrong with Chris Leak? The junior quarterback injured his throwing shoulder in the Gators' loss to Alabama on Oct. 1 and has received an anti-inflammatory shot before each of the last two games to help him deal with the pain. Leak insists he's fine, but he must prove he can throw the ball downfield to keep Georgia's defense honest.
The Gators' offense isn't what coach Urban Meyer hoped it would be, and Leak and running back DeShawn Wynn must set the tone early. If they can keep the Dawgs on their heels, wideout Chad Jackson will have the opportunity to make big plays (that is, if Leak can get him the ball).
Florida's strength has been its defense. The Gators have held opponents to 16.1 points and 271.9 yards per game, forced an SEC-leading 21 turnovers and produced 23 sacks. End Jeremy Mincey leads the team with 44 tackles, including seven for loss, with linebackers Earl Everett (42 tackles) and Brandon Siler (40) not far behind. Florida has a stud in defensive end Ray McDonald, but he had surgery after injuring his knee against Tennessee. He came back in a limited role two weeks ago against LSU and is expected to play again on Saturday. The secondary is vulnerable, though with Georgia starting a green quarterback, spotty pass coverage shouldn't kill the Gators the way it did against Alabama.
Welcome to the big-time, Joe Tereshinski III. The Georgia quarterback will make his first start against Florida, replacing the injured Shockley, and you better believe the Gators will try and blitz early and often. Georgia won't ask Tereshinski, a third-generation Bulldog, to do too much, and he can't afford to turn the ball over. Behind a veteran offensive line, Georgia will try to establish the running game with Thomas Brown and Danny Ware and stay out of third-and-long situations. When Tereshinski does have to throw, he has a pair of big targets in sure-handed tight ends Leonard Pope and Martrez Milner.
As good has Florida's defense has been, Georgia's has been even better. Despite losing their coordinator and top three defensive players of '04, the Junkyard Dawgs are fifth in the nation in scoring D (13.7 points per game) and have come up with 11 interceptions. Defensive end Quentin Moses (12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks) has picked up where All-America David Pollack left off. Free safety Greg Blue has made opponents feel blue with a team-leading 57 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss.
While this has the makings of a low-scoring, defensive battle, the offense that makes plays -- not mistakes -- will win. Florida has owned Georgia in the Cocktail Party of late, winning 13 of the past 15 meetings, though Georgia won last year. Georgia has overachieved this season and Florida has underachieved. This game will even things out. Leak & Co. will put it all together in a tight, hard-fought battle.
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