Posted: 9:29 pm Saturday, October 28th, 2017
By Jay Black
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For so many years and so many times, when Georgia faces Florida it spends two weeks preparing for a grand unveiling.
Some new game plan, wrinkle, or new gimmick that — for the previous two months — no one thought was a good idea or hadn’t had time to dream up.
Black helmets, black pants, third-string quarterbacks, all-inclusive celebrations, throwing when you run and run when you throw. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes these ploys were necessary because the best team was not Georgia. Sometimes two weeks to think, is one week too long.
The Georgia-Florida game was treated twice as big as any other game. Maybe even bigger.
But in 2017, this was not the biggest game of the season. It was just the next game.
Georgia just beat Florida 42-7. It’s biggest Gator blowout since 1982. Almost as if, it was expected.
Maybe it was.
“I thought we came out with a really good demeanor and a good attitude,” said Kirby Smart on the UGA radio network after his first win as a head coach over Florida. “Throughout the game the kids had a really good focus. They were not distracted by streaks. Not letting the past affect the present, because we know that doesn’t happen.”
But for so long around here that has happened.
This game usually means a lot of taunting, trash-talking, scuffles, flags, near fights, actual fights and lots and lots of celebrating.
Today Georgia took a 7-0 lead before most of the tailgating was finished on a Nick Chubb TD run. Chubb – looking for his first win against Florida – hands the ball back to the ref and everybody jogs back to the sideline. Just like they drew it up.
Four minutes later, Jake Fromm – whose slants and simple passes were the topic of much discussion – threw a beautiful fade to Javon Wims. It’s 14-0.
Business and usual.
Before the quarter is over, Sony Michel breaks off Georgia’s longest run of the season. It’s 21-0. Against Florida. That hasn’t happened since 1970.
Not until JR Reed’s scoop, score, and shoulder ride to make it 35-0 did the Dawgs finally celebrated like a team destroying their most hated conference rival.
“It’s a faceless opponent,” said UGA linebacker Lorenzo Carter (who also had never beaten Florida). “At the end of the day, it comes down to what we do. It is us competing against ourselves.”
We know for sure, Florida wasn’t competing against the Dawgs, because they had no shot.
This is not a good football. It might be firing it’s coach. Three years ago, UGA was in a similar situation. A double-digit favorite against a .500 Florida team and it choked. Big time.
Today, there was no choke. This was just a joke.
“We dominated from the beginning,” said Javon Wims.
The scary part is, domination isn’t good enough. Kirby has plenty he can complain about. And will.
“We want to play to a certain standard all the time,” said Smart. “We have to improve. We have to show better tackle and gang tackle. Offensively, it’s just execution. We got sloppy at times. It’s frustrating.”
Georgia’s coach just beat Florida 42-7 and he just said he’s frustrated.
Some kids could take that as a guy that’s too hard to please. Someone with impossible standards. But the culture has truly changed at Georgia to the point where nobody blinks.
UGA beat Florida by 35 points and you could certainly argue it could have played better. The Dawgs nearly ended the Gators 29 year streak of never getting shutout.
A reminder, last year, UGA rushed for 21 yards in this game. Total.
My, how far things have come.
“We are just keeping the circle tight,” said Sony Michel who had 137 rushing yards and two TDs on six carries. “Once you start playing for each other, you start having fun and you start winning.”
This night was more fun than a Bulldog has had in a long, long time in Jacksonville. But I suspect Bulldog Nation will be living this up more than the team will.
Just another win on the way to bigger and better things.
Georgia is 8-0. Florida is out of the way. Those bigger and better things are getting closer.
“We want to keep improving as we go down the stretch,” said Kirby Smart.
Usually there are big questions when Georgia goes north from this place. Now there’s only one.
Can Kirby Smart’s team improve enough to finish off this special season with something spectacular?
Those are the things you ask yourself when you’re 8-0.
Not a bad way to end a cocktail party.