Georgia Bulldogs: Damien Jacobs

Here are five matchups to watch when Georgia has the ball in Saturday's game in Jacksonville:

Todd Gurley's impact
[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley, Ahmad Christian
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsDespite an injury-plagued season, Todd Gurley still rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. He also improved as a receiver and had six TD receptions.
How important is All-SEC tailback Gurley to Georgia's offense? He hasn't played in nearly 15 quarters -- since spraining his ankle in the Sept. 28 win against LSU -- and he's still Georgia's leading rusher by more than 100 yards. Gurley (71-450) will return to the backfield against Florida's stout defense, but will he be the same player he was before the injury? He was averaging 112.5 rushing yards per game but has missed three-and-a-half games, and it's only reasonable to expect some rust on Saturday, particularly when the Gators are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and 100.7 rushing yards per game (second in the SEC).

Thanks in part to injuries up front, they weren't as dominant in their last two games, both losses, allowing 175 rushing yards to LSU and 205 to Missouri. But with a few key faces returning up front -- including defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and possibly outside linebacker Ronald Powell -- Florida should pose a major test to Gurley and Georgia's rushing attack.

Georgia's depleted receiving corps vs. Florida secondary
By this point, anybody who follows Georgia football with even a passing interest knows about the debilitating injuries that struck the Bulldogs' offense over the last month. They have been especially debilitating for a once-explosive receiving corps, which lost Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley to season-ending knee injuries and Michael Bennett and Chris Conley to shorter-term ailments.

Conley is still out, but Bennett should be back from a two-game absence on Saturday, possibly bringing some productivity to a group that has struggled mightily in recent weeks. The Bulldogs passed for just 114 yards in a loss to Vanderbilt, with senior quarterback Aaron Murray failing to complete a pass of at least 20 yards for the first time in his career.

Facing Florida's aggressive secondary is no treat for the Bulldogs' passing game. The Gators surrendered an uncharacteristic 295 passing yards to Missouri in their last game, but with ball hawks like Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and freshman Vernon Hargreaves III leading the charge, Florida leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in pass defense at 172.4 ypg.

Murray's composure vs. Gators
Murray largely put to rest questions about whether he was a big-game player in nearly flawless performances against South Carolina and LSU earlier this season. A composed performance against Florida on Saturday would place an additional nail in that particular coffin. The Florida native has never gotten off to a great start against the Gators, starting with his very first play as a freshman in 2010 -- when he threw an interception to Florida's Janoris Jenkins. Murray led a comeback to force overtime in that game but threw a back-breaking interception that helped Florida win 34-31 in the extra session. Georgia won each of the last two meetings against the Gators, but Murray was fairly shaky in both, going a combined 27-for-58 for 319 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Georgia has a chance to build its first three-game winning streak against Florida since 1987-89, but it likely will need Murray to play his best game yet against the Gators for the streak to remain intact.

Will Mike Bobo "let it rip?"
[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/Wade PayneWith a few more weapons to work with, perhaps Aaron Murray and Georgia can open up their offense.
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Tuesday that Georgia needs to "let it rip" against Florida's impressive defense. After calling perhaps the most conservative game of his career in the Bulldogs' loss against Vanderbilt, that philosophy might apply to Bobo more than anyone else. The Bulldogs attempted only two passes of 15 yards or more in the loss to the Commodores and played it as close to the vest as possible -- a strategy that blew up in their face when turnovers and a bogus targeting call helped Vandy rally for a late victory.

With Gurley and Bennett back in the lineup, Georgia's offense should have some more punch on Saturday, and that will be necessary against Florida's tough defense. Bobo likely must break out of the conservatism that set in with multiple offensive weapons sidelined and show some aggressiveness if Georgia is to break through against the Gators.

Florida's pass rushers vs. Georgia offensive line
If Powell is able to play on Saturday, that would provide a huge shot in the arm for Florida's pass rush. Powell has Jarvis Jones-like ability, but injuries have been a regular problem for the junior. Even if he doesn't play, Georgia's offensive line -- which has dealt with consistency issues for much of the season -- will have its hands full with buck Dante Fowler Jr., who almost single-handedly kept the Gators afloat against Missouri even when the offense was performing pitifully.

Fowler leads the team with three sacks, eight tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. He hasn't gotten a ton of help from his comrades up front -- Florida is tied for 10th in the league with 11 sacks -- but getting some line depth back should help. Georgia's line has struggled against speedy edge rushers, particularly in the Clemson and Missouri losses, so keep an eye on the edges Saturday.

SEC lunchtime links

October, 2, 2013
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It's Wednesday which means the SEC coaches and players have turned their attention to Saturday's opponent. See what's being said, who's going to play or not play and how teams are preparing in a sampling of news across the league.
  • Alabama center Ryan Kelly is expected to a miss a couple of weeks with a “stretched” MCL. That means more playing time for Chad Lindsay, who is making the most of his opportunity.
  • Coming off a huge win over LSU, Georgia is still on high alert as it heads to Knoxville this weekend for a matchup with SEC East foe Tennessee.
  • Since Lane Kiffin was fired, there have been rumors linking Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin with the open USC position. He says the rumors are just part of the job as the Aggies head into an open week.
  • LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. muffed a punt against Georgia on Saturday that led to a touchdown. It’s not the first miscue for the dynamic return specialist, but he knows how to respond from a mistake like that.
  • Connor Shaw was expected to miss at least a couple of weeks with a shoulder sprain, but the South Carolina quarterback could play against Kentucky on Saturday.
  • Florida boasts one of the top defenses in college football, so the Gators’ offense has resorted to an old-school approach -- a simple, keep-away philosophy.
  • Ole Miss was shutout last Saturday at Alabama. Head coach Hugh Freeze says it starts with the offensive line, and they will need to play better this weekend against Auburn.
  • Missouri has yet to start SEC play, but through four games, the Tigers’ offense has passed the test under new coordinator Josh Henson.
  • Auburn cornerback Chris Davis has missed the last two games due to injury, but the Tigers are eager to get their “extra spark” back on defense this week against No. 24 Ole Miss.
  • The trash talk has already started between Arkansas and Florida this week. Florida defensive lineman Damien Jacobs called out the Razorbacks’ offensive line, saying they play a little dirty. He singled out Hogs’ center Travis Swanson.

Mailbag: Florida-Georgia 

October, 25, 2012
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Georgia and Florida will vie for first place in the SEC East race this Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. With a win, the Gators will clinch the East and Georgia will fall to third place. A Bulldogs' victory would be the program’s biggest win in years. With the stakes this high, our readers have many questions they want answered. Here are a few of them:

[+] EnlargeChristian Robinson
Darrell Walker/Icon SMIChristian Robinson wasn't a big fan of Shawn Williams' comments on the defense Monday.
jeverett10: I just saw the article about how the defense needs to toughen up and the comments from Christian Robinson. What are the coaches and other players saying about "THE RANT" which, in my opinion, was gone about totally wrong in aspects? But I honestly can’t fault Shawn Williams for saying what he did.

Radi Nabulsi: jeverett10 is referring to Williams addressing reporters on Monday when he called the Bulldogs’ defense soft and stated that linebackers Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera should never come off the field because they hit hard. Our own David Ching had a response from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham here and responses from many of Williams’ teammates here. I spoke to Garrison Smith and Herrera and they both believed that Williams’ comments would provide a spark to the defense. Robinson and Mike Gilliard took offense to hearing that Herrera should play more in their place, but Williams did get a chance to explain his comments to the defense at Tuesday’s practice.

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Five things to watch this weekend 

December, 1, 2011
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Keep an eye on those Dawgs

Everyone was ready to write off Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs after their 0-2 start. UGA has not lost since and they are riding a ten game winning streak and playing in the Georgia Dome this weekend with a chance at winning the SEC Championship if they can upset top ranked LSU.

Georgia has a lot of momentum on their side off the field as well. They are making up some ground on key prospects like in-state stars in defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) and outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes). Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson could visit the Bulldogs next month. Richt and his staff are making Alabama and FSU work very hard to keep linebackers Dillon Lee (Buford, Ga./Buford) and Ukeme Eligwe (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stone Mountain), respectively, committed to those schools. Then there are players like defensive end Kenderius Whitehead (Lithonia, Ga./MLK), running back Todd Gurley (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro) and offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens).

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Gators getting big visitor Saturday 

November, 18, 2011
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The visitor list for Saturday's Furman-Florida game might not rival the Florida-Florida State game the following week in terms of big-name recruits. But the Gators are expecting Josh Harvey-Clemons (6-4/205, Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes), the No. 2 outside linebacker and No. 23 player overall in the ESPNU 150, to make the short drive south. Harvey-Clemons is also expected back for Thanksgiving weekend to watch the Gators host the Noles.

In addition to Harvey-Clemons, Florida is expecting Tennessee defensive tackle commit Damien Jacobs (6-3/295, Gray, La./East Mississippi CC) and top 2013 running back Adam Lane (5-7/200, Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven).

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