JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There was nothing pretty about Georgia’s 17-9 win against Florida on Saturday from the Bulldogs’ perspective, except the final score.
The annual showdown in Jacksonville was downright nasty, with the two teams combining for 227 yards in penalties, and Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray was terrible for three quarters before leading a late touchdown drive that finally helped the Bulldogs pull away a bit.
But No. 10 Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) showed toughness that clearly had been lacking in its last two games, handing No. 2 Florida (7-1, 6-1) its first loss of the season -- and its first back-to-back defeats against Georgia since 1988-89 -- taking over first place in the SEC East with two league games to play.
1. Who’s soft? The storyline that wouldn’t go away throughout the week was safety Shawn Williams' Monday commentary on how the Bulldogs’ defense had been soft this season. There was absolutely no softness on Saturday as the Bulldogs shut down Florida’s running game, forced six turnovers and held the Gators without a touchdown for the first time in this series since 1988.
2. Welcome back, Jarvis: Jarvis Jones delivered not only the best individual defensive performance since his four-sack outing last season against Florida, the All-American outside linebacker delivered one of the best defensive performances in school history. Jones finished with 13 tackles, three sacks for minus-24 yards, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles -- the first of which led to Georgia’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter.
3. Timely turnovers: Georgia entered the game having forced only 10 turnovers all season. Florida came in having turned it over only four times all season. But the Bulldogs piled up six takeaways on Saturday -- none bigger than the fourth-quarter Jordan Reed fumble that Jones forced at the Georgia 5, which bounced into the end zone. Sanders Commings fell on it for a win-saving touchback.
1. Murray’s horrible half: Yes, he came through in the fourth quarter with a key touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell. But Murray was simply awful for three quarters of the game. He threw three first-half interceptions and had passed for just 67 yards at the start of the fourth quarter, when he finally got his act together. Fortunately for Murray, his defense was good enough to keep Georgia in the game.
2. Third-down inefficiency: A variety of factors -- Murray’s inefficiency and untimely penalties among them -- contributed to Georgia’s difficulties converting on third down. But they added up to cause Georgia to go 1-for-10 on third down -- a shortcoming that rarely results in a victory. Florida went 5-for-11 in the first half, but was 2-for-5 after intermission with three of their second-half possessions ending with turnovers, two with punts and one with a field goal.
3. Penalty problems: Georgia’s coaches wanted the Bulldogs to play with an edge, but emphasized afterward that they expected them to do so with a bit more intelligence than they displayed on Saturday. The Bulldogs drew 14 penalties for 132 yards -- 53 yards more than they had in any other game this season (79 vs. Missouri). That easily could have produced a different outcome if not for Florida’s inability to avoid turnovers.