5 Keys to the Gators Beating Georgia
Just in case you weren't already excited for this year's version of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail party, the Gators will play for a chance to represent the Eastern division in the SEC Championship game.
That's what's on the line for the Gators when they go up against their hated rivals from Georgia.
Florida has surprised everyone with the way they have performed this season and through seven games have already matched their win total from 2011.
With one game standing in the way of of Florida going to the SEC Championship game, let's take a look at what the Gators must do to get a win on Saturday and punch their ticket to Atlanta.
1. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Florida was ranked 113th in the nation in turnover margin last season.
Oh how quickly things can change in just one season.
This season, Florida is ranked 10th nationally with a plus-11 turnover margin.
The Gators are coming off of a game where they forced South Carolina to fumble three times and added on an interception late in the game. Florida was able to score on three-of-four of those turnovers.
If the Gators are able to create turnovers against Georgia they will in turn be able to control the clock. Both of those have been key reasons the Gators find themselves at 7-0 this season.
2. MAKE GEORGIA ONE DIMENSIONAL
Florida has the third best rushing defense in the conference this season allowing just 97.29 yards on the ground a game.
Georgia started the season running the ball well but have cooled down in the past two weeks.
If Florida can find a way to stop Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall early and force the Dawgs to become one-dimensional, the Gators' pass rush should be able to get pressure on Aaron Murray.
The Gators have a ton of talented pass-rushers, who if given the opportunity to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback will do just that.
3. LIMIT THE BIG PLAY
Georgia has feasted off of huge passing plays this season.
The Dawgs have 32 plays of 20 yards or more(first in the SEC), 16 plays of 30 yards or more (second in the SEC), eight plays of 40 yards or more (second in the SEC), four plays of 50 yards or more (third in the SEC) and three plays of 60 yards or more (second in the SEC).
Not only do these passing plays flip the field but they can swing the momentum in a game in a hurry.
Florida asks its cornerbacks to play a lot of tight man-to-man coverage which can lead to getting beat deep. The secondary has been the Gators' strongest unit this season and if they can prevent the big play and force Georgia to earn its yards on each play it will be a long day for Aaron Murray.
4. CONTINUE SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
Florida's special teams have returned to the form that Gator fans remember during championship runs in 2006 and 2008.
Kyle Christy is leading the nation in punting. Christy's punting has kept the Gators in games this season and his value to the team can't be undervalued.
Every week you see college kickers miss extra points and potential game winning/tying field goals. Caleb Sturgis is one of the most reliable kickers in the country, and in college football reliability is a hard trait to come by when it comes to kickers.
The only area where Florida has lacked on special teams is in punt return. De'Ante Saunders and Andre Debose have looked unsure of when to call for a fair catch or return the punt.
As a team, Georgia is averaging just 39.11 yards per punt. If Debose or Saunders can break a return and keep Florida in positive field position on Saturday the offense should be able to put up points on Georgia's defense.
5. GET THE RUNNING GAME GOING
Florida doesn't try to hide it. Will Muschamp has broadcasted for two years how he wants his offense to play. Defenses know what the Gators are going to do and they haven't been able to stop it yet.
Florida needs to be able to run the ball effectively against Georgia to be successful.
That means lining up and punching Georgia in the mouth early and often. Georgia was called soft by its defensive leader this week and Florida needs to test that early. Run the ball up the gut, put a hat on a hat and see if Georgia can match your intensity and physicality.
Nick De La Torre is a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report. Read more of his work by clicking here.
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