First off, I make no promises that this blog will go much beyond kickoff. My previous experiences at Alltel Stadium have all included extended periods without wireless service. So, keep your fingers crossed.
A few pregame thoughts:
-- The traffic into the stadium is brutal, but at least the ride was entertaining. Among the highlights: a girl wearing a halter top and tutu and nothing else; a guy on stilts and a girl carrying a lemur in a dog carrier down the street. We stopped to ask where she got a lemur and she was noticeably dodging the question. I assume it has some loose affiliation to a Columbian drug cartel.
-- I was just down on the field for a while. I gotta say, it's hot. It's a good bit hotter than it has been in Athens in weeks. This will easily be the warmest conditions the Dawgs have played in since the opener against Oklahoma State. Remember when Mark Richt caught flack for complaining about the difference in weather between Athens and Jacksonville back in May? Funny, but he might have had a point. Anyway, if you figure hot conditions favor the team with more depth, that's one more strike against the Dawgs.
-- The Florida Times-Union has plenty of preview stuff, including predictions from 32 different writers. Only two picked Georgia, but all but five predicted a relatively close game.
-- Saw a guy in the parking lot wearing a Jaguars t-shirt that had "Draft Tebow" written on the front. Funny, I didn't realize the Jags needed a fullback.
-- Tracy Wolfson is much, much more attractive in person.
-- I was out on the field when Georgia came out for warm-ups. Brandon Boykin sprinted across the field yelling, "I don't give a (you-know-what) if they're ranked No. 1." Guess you have to like the confidence.
-- On the other hand, you watch Florida warm up and the first thing you notice is the confidence and swagger they carry themselves with. It's palpable.
-- Apparently Junior Seau is here for some reason.
-- Some notable players not on Georgia's dressed out squad: Dontavius Jackson, Akeem Hebron, Ricardo Crawford and Kiante Tripp. Figured Jackson might get a look after a strong finish to the Vandy game and Richt said earlier this week that Tripp was, in fact, healthy and cleared to play.
-- Some interesting notes on Georgia's starters: Clint Boling will indeed start at left tackle. Cordy Glenn moves to left guard, Chris Davis at right guard and Josh Davis at right tackle. Washaun Ealey gets the start at tailback and Nick Williams will start at Sam linebacker (alongside Darryl Gamble and Rennie Curran).
-- Fun story: The pregame meal in the stadium is always awful. Makes Georgia's half-cooked halftime hotdogs seem appetizing by comparison. Anyway, I go through the line and get to the end, where there's a tray of cookies and brownies, about a quarter full. The tongs are absolutely covered in some sort of unidentifiable gook. Maybe caramel, maybe worse. Anyway, I start to pick them up but notice the gook, put them back down and simply pick up a chocolate chip cookie sitting off to the side, putting it on my plate. The lady behind the counter then yells at me for not using the tongs. I was chastised by a Jacksonville Municipal Stadium food service employee for touching my own cookie. Today is off to a great start.
-- My trip to the field earlier did get me up close to both Urban and Timmy. Tebow actually jogged by me at one point, and it was at that point I knew I was going to write a good game story. It was like this burst of inspiration. He's magical.
-- Sarcasm is fun.
-- The Florida band forms an outline of the state of Florida in one formation, but completely leaves off the Keys. They really need to hire a couple of fat guys to at least play the roles of Islamorada and Key West.
UPDATE START OF 1ST QUARTER
-- Well, the uni's are interesting to say the least. The red facemasks are probably a fashion don't.
-- The uni's aren't doing much for the defense so far either.
-- Not a good play by Akeem Dent making his triumphant return. A 15-yard late hit penatly sets the Gators up at the 27 of Georgia.
-- Riley Cooper beats Reshad Jones in the end zone. Boy that was UG-LY by the UGA defense. Tebow put it on the money. That was an 80-yard drive in six plays without really breaking a sweat. And Tebow is celebrating on the sideline. Yikes. Florida 7, Georgia 0 (6-80-2:39).
-- Perhaps in a bit of irony or just good timing, they just made the stadium announcement not to throw things on the field.
-- That is just the second time this season Florida scored a TD on the opening drive. The other time was against Charleston Southern. Insert your own joke about the UGA defense here.
-- Florida media is way too happy to talk about how great Florida is. I mean, there's a number of them that are downright giddy. It's like they're 12-year-old girls who just got to meet a boy band.
-- Georgia will start its first drive at the 19. A three-and-out here would be a disaster.
-- Two straight runs by Ealey set up a third-and-2 at the 27. It's another run, but a flag comes in and a skirmish breaks out at the line of scrimmage. False start on Orson Charles. A guy in the press box just referred to him as "Omar Charles." Sounds like a character from "The Wire."
-- Cox hits Washaun Ealey for a big gain. If I'm not mistaken that's the first catch of Ealey's career. That's a first down at the UGA 42.
-- Ealey is looking good running the ball, and Samuel gets UGA to a third-and-half a yard. Flag comes in though. Not surprisingly, it's on Georgia. A deadball personal foul for unncessary roughness on Josh Davis. From the looks of the replay, all that happened was Spikes pushed Davis and knocked his helmet off and Davis got flagged. Are we sure Penn Wagers isn't out there?
-- And Bobo goes the safe route and hands off to Samuel. Punt team is on and Florida gets the ball back again. Thanks, refs. Your check is in the mail.
UPDATED, FIRST QUARTER, 8:21 REMAINING
-- Another great punt from Drew Butler, this time for 53 yards. Florida takes over at its own 8.
-- The good news from that drive is Georgia actually looked like it might be able to run the ball a little bit. The bad news is, flags, flags, flags. Perhaps the refs are going get even with UGA again -- not for a celebration this time, but for showing up for the game wearing the same colors as them. I mean, how embarrassing!
-- Willie's soft zone is not going to work. Another first down for Florida. Tebow seems like he knows right where the holes in the zone will be before the ball is even snapped.
-- Florida now has six first downs and a score and has yet to face a third down.
-- Tebow had Brandon James wide open -- I mean no one within 20 yards of him -- for an easy touchdown and James bobbled away the ball at the UGA 30. Who was that more embarrassing for -- James or Willie? I'd argue the latter.
-- First third down of the game for the Gators -- third-and-5 at the UGA 49.. and Tebow runs for the first down as Georgia misses three tackles.
-- There's just no comparison between the speed Florida has on offense and the speed Georgia has on D.
-- Touchdown to Riley Cooper, who beats Brandon Boykin. Boykin never turned around to make a play on the ball and Cooper went up behind him and came down with the grab in the back corner of the end zone. There was definitely some pushing and shoving going on between Cooper and Boykin. Give Cooper some credit though -- it was a nice one-handed grab. Man, this might get ugly. Florida 14, Georgia 0 (11-92-5:01)
-- That was Florida's longest TD drive of the season. Feels like we've heard that a lot of times this season. Also, that was the first time Cooper has had two TDs in one game in SEC play in his career. Some folks are going to need to send a portion of their first NFL paychecks to Willie Martinez.
-- You'll never believe this... another flag on Georgia! Another false start on Omar Charles.
-- Cox keeps and picks up 10 to bring up a third-and-5 at the 25. Channelling his inner Tebow, I guess. He hits Tavarres King for a gain of six on the next play.
-- UGA has 55 yards of offense so far and 40 yards of penalties.
-- Great line from commenter Prince Lightfoot: "Black helmets? That what they spent the bye week scheming? What is this, Project Richtway?" Willie, I'm sorry to say, you're ooout. (And don't ask how I know the catch phrases from that show...)
-- Georgia driving all the way down to the Florida 27. So let's see, the Dawgs are having no problems driving on the Gators' D, and Tim Tebow looks like he's a better passer than Johnathan Crompton. Yup, just what we all expected.
UPDATE, START OF SECOND QUARTER
-- Third-and-nine for UGA at the Florida 26... and... it's a flag! Delay of game on Georgia this time. At least they're mixing it up.
-- Cox looks for Tavarres King who was quadruple covered. It fell incomplete, which has to at least be a moderate victory since it probably should have been picked off. Blair Walsh comes on and drills a 50-yarder. That's his fourth make of 50 or more in four tries this year, and he's 12-of-13 overal. Florida 14, Georgia 3 (11 plays-49 yards).
-- Nick Williams and Prince Miller bring down Demps in the open field -- a minor miracle it would seem. Nevertheless, it's a three-and-out, which was absolutely necessary on that drive. If UGA can score here, maybe it's a game.
-- Note to Blog Goliard: I'm fairly certain networks are barred from using any music that was popular in the past five years. Also, at least one Bachman Turner Overdrive song must be used in each telecast.
-- Hey a flag on Florida. I think the refs must have gotten confused. Nevertheless, it's a 15-yard move in the right direction for the Dawgs. First-and-10 at the UGA49.
-- Cox hits Green, who holds up about 43 Florida defenders fighting for extra yards. It's a gain of 20.
-- What's this? Another flag on Florida? Offsides? Alright, what's going on here? Did Urban Meyer's check bounce?
-- Cox to Aron White for the touchdown on a beautiful throw down the middle of the field. Oddly reminiscent of Georgia's lone touchdown a year ago. See...Cox's arm isn't THAT bad. Florida 14, Georgia 10 (3-65-1:36)
-- Georgia is rehashing its end-zone celebration, but this time it's on the sideline. And no flags. I'm sure someone is flipping through the rule book at the SEC offices right now though...
UPDATE, SECOND QUARTER, 10:35 REMAINING
-- And we have another flag... this time a personal foul on Mike Gilliard following the kickoff which gives Florida the ball at the 36.
-- Second down, and another flag. If you've been playing the penalty drinking game, please give your keys to a sober person now and feel free to crack open another bottle of bourbon. This one's an illegal shift on Florida.
-- Third-and-16 for Florida... and you'll never guess what happens. Hernandez takes a dump off pass after Georgia blitzed and rumbled through four tackles to pick up 17 yards. First down.
-- Flag! Drink! Against Florida again... false start this time.
-- The middle of the field has been pretty wide open and Florida's downfield blocking has been spectacular. Tebow picks up 11 on a second-and-15. Third-and-four at the UGA 46.
-- Tebow picks up the first down on a run after Rennie just missed bringing him down in the backfield. Curran darted into the backfield but shifted into ludicrous speed and shot right past Tebow... "It's Spaceball I, sir. It's gone to plaid."
-- Prince Miller makes a nice open-field tackle on Rainey. Another flag comes in. You may want to make sure your fridge is stocked for this game. It's a hold on Florida that is declined by the Dawgs. That brings up a third-and-11.
-- Nice tackle by Boykin on Nelson at the 38 to bring up a fourth down. Florida sends out Sturgis for a 56-yard try... and it's good. Wow. He's been taking his Flintstones vitamins. That's gotta be a heartbreaker for the Dawgs. Of course, it would have been a non-issue if anyone had tackled Hernandez. That kick might have been good from 65. Florida 17, Georgia 10 (10-25-5:53)
-- That was the second-longest field goal in Florida history. The longest was by Chris Perkins in 1984 -- a 60-yarder against Tulane.
UPDATED, SECOND QUARTER, 4:33 REMAINING
-- Another nice return by Boykin who is closing in on the school record for kick return yards.
-- Cox tries to throw one away but Orson Charles plays a great cornerback and knocks down a sure interception.
-- Caleb King gets his first carry and it's a big one, which of course is followed by a flag. Holding on Cordy Glenn backs the Dawgs up to the 31... a net penalty of 6 yards.
-- The Internet is killing me in this place. Just awful.
-- Cox is sacked on third down for a loss of 11. That was a bad drive, but it was all started with that flag. Georgia might actually be winning this game if it weren't for some really bad penalties.
-- Butler booms one but outkicks his coverage by a mile. It was a 61-yard kick followed by a 20-yard return that has the Gators set up at the 31 with 2:23 to play.
-- Georgia's D absolutely has to stop the Gators on this drive. A stop before the half lets the Dawgs go in with some confidence, iron out some wrinkles then get the ball to start the third quarter in a game that is closer than most people probably expected. Moreover, it gives the Dawgs the sense that they weathered Florida's biggest punches already. But a Florida score and the air gets let out of the building.
-- And as I finish typing that, Tebow hits Riley Cooper for a 20-yard gain to the Georgia 45.
-- Tebow throws long to Cooper and a flag flies in. It was Boykin complaining to the ref on that one, but he's the one who draws the flag. First-and-10 for Florida at the UGA 30.
-- Dawgs have been ridiculously close to getting to Tebow in the backfield a bunch of times but have yet to make it happen. Seems like that's been the story of so many games for the Dawgs this year.
-- The middle of the field is ALWAYS open. I'm honestly surprised Florida doesn't just throw to Hernandez over the middle on every play.
-- Tebow goes down the middle on third-and-three, breaks tackles (if you can call them that) and goes straight into the end zone for the score. That, you may realize, breaks Herschel Walker's SEC rushing record, the 50th of Tebow's career. He asks for the ball afterward. Florida 24, Georgia 10 (4-65-0:51).
-- Just to recap: I wrote that this was a crucial drive for Georgia's D. Fifty-one seconds later Tim Tebow is running into the end zone without a UGA defender anywhere near him, breaking Herschel's record and putting the Gators up by 14. Unbelievable.
-- Georgia has 1:26 to go 78 yards. Or get 9 penalties.
-- Cox is drilled by Cunningham, fumbling the football in the process. It's recovered by Josh Davis, but that was an ugly hit and a loss of nine. Florida calls timeout hoping to get the ball back and score again. Meanwhile they're showing the most obnoxious looking jacka$ I've ever seen dressed in a fuzzy Gator costume doing a lame Mark Madsen-esque dance on the big screen. He is the reason people hate Florida.
-- Ealey carries and picks up a couple yards, but it's still third-and-17 at the 16. Another run on third and Florida calls a timeout with 21 seconds left, giving Willie's D just enough time to do something dumb.
-- James on the return up to the Florida 47. Someone finally makes a crack about the Florida media cheering in the press box. The Gators have 10 seconds to play with, but chooses to do nothing with it. Tebow takes a knee and we go to the half with Georgia trailing by two touchdowns.
-- The Florida dance team put together a nice little Halloween routine. I was kinda impressed.
-- The press box at the Fla-Ga game: The only place on Earth where grown men will line up 30 deep to get food you wouldn't eat from a vending machine.
-- Just saw Vince Dooley doing arm circles in the press box. Seriously. I think he may be considering playing in the second half. I think after age 70 you get all your eligibility back.
-- Some halftime stats:
Brandon Boykin has 74 KOR yards. He's 46 away from Scott Woerner's school record of 720.
Tebow has 63 yards rushing and picked up his sixth career rushing TD against UGA.
Green has two catches for 32 yards. Cooper leads the Gators with 4 catches for 78 yards and 2 TDs.
12 penalties for 113 yards between the two teams in the first half, not including the one Georgia declined. Eight of those flags and 84 of the yards were on the Dawgs
Georgia had 136 total yards and 84 penalty yards.
UPDATE, START OF THIRD QUARTER
-- A.J. Jones makes a great play to tip, then intercept a Joe Cox pass. Bad play by Cox, but a great play by Jones. That should pretty much end the realistic hopes for Georgia. But why bother being realistic. This is a cocktail party.
-- Well, I made the valid argument that Herschel had five bowl-game TDs that should have counted toward the record. Tebow may break that mark this game, too. He runs it in for his second score of the game, a 5-yard run. Florida 31, Georgia 10 (3-19-1:20).
-- Troy is the only other team to allow Tebow to have four or more combined TDs in one game this season. Against them, he threw four and ran for one. He has two passing TDs and two rushing TDs today.
-- Silver lining of sorts, the run game has been much improved. Ealey runs for 13 on first down. He has 41 yards on 10 carries so far today.
-- And he breaks another one... this one goes for 15.
-- A.J. Jones deflects another pass. I hope Joe knows that he's supposed to throw to the other A.J.
-- Cox throws three feet over Green's head, but A.J. goes and gets it anyway for an 18-yard gain. Georgia is driving with a first-down at the 30-yard line of the Gators.
-- Keeper by Cox. I must say, Mike Bobo has done a decent job of mixing things up today. I would have liked to have seen how that last drive of the half might have played out if Cox hadn't taken the long sack on first down. The playcalling other than that has been strong though.
-- Cox overthrows Charles, too. Would have been a nice gain and maybe a touchdown, but it was thrown high and Orson couldn't come down with it.
-- Third-and-5 at the 15-yard line for Georgia. Feels like a good time for a penalty.
-- Bobo does his best Sean Hannity impression and goes uber-conservative. He hands off to Ealey who gains two to the 13. They'll go for it on fourth down.
-- Georgia calls a timeout to discuss which lineman will jump offsides.
-- Message to FL Dawg: Loved the comment, but I'm concerned based on your spelling and grammar that you took my joke about the penalty drinking game a little too seriously.
-- Cox completes a low liner to Orson for the first down. Georgia sets up with a first-and-goal at the 7. See, I taunt, and they do well. I say it's crucial they make a stop, and Florida scores three plays later. I'm like a human reverse jinx.
-- Two straight runs go nowhere. You may remember the note from my odds & ends post yesterday that UGA has a rushing average of 1.1 ypc in the red zone this year. Wonder if Bobo knows that.
-- Cox to Michael Moore who was wide open in the end zone. That was a good play call, and Cox made a nice pass. See, it's not so hard. Florida 31, Georgia 17 (14-79-7:13). That'd be the type of drive you'd love if Georgia was up 21 and not down 21. They need some quick strikes.
-- I know I said earlier this week than last year's call was absurd and they should never do it again, but maybe an on-side kick isn't the worst idea in the world here. What do they have to lose?
UPDATED, THIRD QUARTER, 6:10 REMAINING
-- Well, Walsh kicked deep. At least it wasn't directional.
-- Georgia fan just gives the finger on the Jumbotron to a bunch of Florida fans around him. At least someone brought a solid defense to the game today.
-- Georgia finally gets to Tebow and causes a fumble -- thanks to Justin Houston -- but Florida recovers. Still, it's fourth down and Georgia is about to get the ball back. This was the type of defensive stand that they needed. Now the question is, can the offense make it a game?
-- Well, I can completely see why Florida has not allowed a punt-return yard this year. This Chas Henry character is good. If the Dawgs are going to put more points on the board, they'll need to go a long ways. First down at the UGA 6.
-- Is it bad that I'm still miffed about being yelled at about the tongs?
-- Big throw to TK for a gain of 22. Cox has made some very nice throws and some very ugly ones today.
-- Nick Williams is out for the game with a lower back sprain.
-- Third-and-2 at the Florida 39 and Cox completes his second big pass of the day to A.J. --- Jones that is. That was just ugly. I can't fathom what Cox was thinking. He just floated it up to the sideline and Jones didn't even have to make a play on it.
-- You know, Georgia is down 14 right now, but they are only losing because they've beaten themselves. Take away the two interceptions, both on throws Cox shouldn't have made, and the bad penalties and this is, at worst, a 3-point game. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising -- after all, this is what Georgia has been all year. But man, it's about as big a missed opportunity as the Dawgs have had in recent years.
-- Chris Rainey was shaken up on a second-down run. He's helped off the field but still looks faster than most of Georgia's linebackers.
-- And Tebow runs for a first down. I feel like I've seen that play somewhere before. Ah, but what do I know. I haven't spent two weeks watching film of Florida, so how would I know what to expect?
UPDATED, START OF FOURTH QUARTER
-- Probably won't be writing too much more. The Internet is driving me nuts and I'm hoping to use the elevator to get to the field rather than being forced to trudge through the stands again.
-- Logan Gray in to receive the punt. He lets it go. Florida downs it at the 2. Fun times.
-- If you bet on this game, there's still plenty of drama, eh? What was the final spread -- 15?
-- Actually, question for the readers: Let's say UGA scores on this drive to pull to within seven, but never really threatens to win the game and Florida hangs on for a 34-24 win. On a scale of 1-10, how angry are you? I would have thought before the game that a close loss would have been tolerable, even if not acceptable. But the way Georgia is losing this game... I gotta think the final score doesn't really matter now unless the Dawgs pull off the miracle.
-- Cox nearly completes his third INT of the game. Haden broke it up and probably should have picked it off. That's at least the third near-INT of the game for Cox, who has really made some bad decisions.
-- OK, nevermind. That's INT No. 3. And injury to insult... A.J. Green is hurt on the play. Cox hung the ball up over the middle and A.J. got hit hard going after it.
-- Green does jog off the field and is moving around without a problem on the sideline. Looks like he may have just had the wind knocked out of him. Scary.
-- Question: How many homer Florida media members does it take to change Tebow's jock strap? Answer: Three -- one to change it, one to giggle like a schoolgirl, and one to sell the jock on eBay.
-- If it's any consolation to Dawgs fans, I'm fully expecting the Yankees and Giants to make sure I'm this miserable tomorrow, too.
-- Tebow is going to pad his Heisman resume now. And as a side note, Florida has all of its timeouts left. Those will come in handy in the final minute.
-- Justin Houston was down for Georgia after that play, but he jogs off the field, too, looking OK.
-- Tebow on yet another keeper, but he loses five yards on his way to a dubious Heisman campaign. I can't wait to hear about his inspirational words before the game. But hey... black helmets!
-- I suspect there will be a few skirmishes at The Landing tonight. But at least there will be a lot of girls dressed as nurses to help out after the fights.
-- OK, well it's third-and-20. Either Tebow runs in for a TD breaking 94 tackles or a field-goal will be upcoming. Either way, I'm going to call it a day with the live blog, get my act together for postgame, and I'll have notes up in a couple of hours. Keep your chins up, Dawg fans. At least you have Tebow's NFL career to look forward to.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
First off, I make no promises that this blog will go much beyond kickoff. My previous experiences at Alltel Stadium have all included extended periods without wireless service. So, keep your fingers crossed.