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DGAFL Preview

As we prepare for the 100th edition of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, I found myself deep in my feelings earlier this week while thinking about the rivalry. I'll be honest, most of my memories are unpleasant. The first GAFL game I remember was in 2002. I was grounded, so I had to listen to the game on the radio in my room (RIP Larry). The Dawgs were ranked 5th heading into the matchup, but lost to the unranked Gators. I also remember the excruciating 14-10 loss in 2005, when Joe Tereshinski had to start for an injured D.J. Shockley. D.J. is my 2nd favorite Dawg of all time (just behind Brian Herrien, in case you were wondering). Losing that game without having D.J. on the field was a tough pill to swallow. The Dawgs probably would have made it to the BCS championship game in 2002 and 2005......had they not lost these games. But, once again, I digress.

Before I get too far down that rabbit hole, allow me to shift gears and make this is a positive vibes only column. I also have some fond memories of GAFL that I want to share.

  • The 2007 excessive celebration game. I have watched the video below 1,000 times, and it still makes me laugh. Trinton Sturdivant (#77) will forever be a legend in my book. And look at young Coach Mark Richt, epitomizing the DGAFL culture with this interview. Brings a smile to my face.

  • The Dawgs' 24-17 victory in 2019, a bright spot in the otherwise challenging James Coley experiment season. I sat with our friend Aj ("Parlay P"), and we had a hell of a time. I channeled my inner Baker Mayfield and woke up feeling dangerous that day (S/O to our friend Christie, a Florida superfan, who put up with me and Parlay P that weekend).

  • My favorite GAFL memory is the 2011 game, when the Dawgs knocked off the Gators 24-20. My 4 years in Athens were not the best in terms of overall team success. The Dawgs were ranked #1 going into my freshman year, and things went downhill from there. To add insult to injury, I was 0-3 against the Gators going into the 2011 meeting. Full disclosure, I actually missed the first half of the game due to a mysterious illness. Some say it was caused by funneling Burnett's Strawberry (IYKYK) and then allowing myself to indulge in Cherry Skoal pouches. Guess we will never know for sure. What matters is that I made it to my seat in time for the 2nd half. My one regret is that I didn't join our friends AO and Tyler (the two gentlemen directly to the left of Aaron Murray in the picture below) when they ran down to celebrate with the team. But I will never forget that evening.

High level hitters

  • After week 8, Bill Connelly's SP+ ranks Florida 5th overall (5th offensive and 21st defensive).

  • There is a significant gap between Florida's place in the AP Poll and the SP+ rankings. Florida dropped out of the AP Top 25 after the 49-42 loss against LSU in Baton Rouge.

  • As is the case with the Dawgs, there is uncertainty about who Florida will start at QB on Saturday. Gainesville native Anthony Richardson (a RS freshman QB) played most of the 2nd half against LSU after Dan Mullen benched Emory Jones.

  • Mullen won't name a starter before Saturday's game, but I'd be surprised if it's not Richardson. He has played well in his opportunities this year, and Mullen is among the best at designing game plans for his dual threat QBs. FWIW, I think Richardson will be a superstar at some point. That being said, I think it will take another year or two before it happens.

  • Florida has a bunch of former 4 and 5 star players in its front 7. I think Zach Carter, who has 15.5 sacks in his Gator career, is the best of the bunch. Former Bulldog Brenton Cox Jr (5-star)., Gervon Dexter (5 star), Daquan Newkirk, and Tyrone Truesdell are a few other names to know.

  • Cornerback Kaiir Elam is one of the better coverage corners in the SEC, and was heavily recruited by UGA out of high school. Elam has battled injuries this season, but was able to play last week.

  • Safeties Trey Dean II and Rashad Torrence II have a ton of experience, and are very physical players.

  • I was shocked that LSU had 321 yards rushing against the Gators, especially when you consider: 1) all of the talent on the Florida defense; and 2) that LSU's running backs had averaged just 93 rushing yards per game for the season.

  • Despite the horrible defensive performance, turnovers ultimately killed Florida in this game. Richardson and Jones threw two interceptions each, and that was too much to overcome.

Other thoughts

  • Malik Davis, Nay’Quan Wright, and Dameon Pierce are a great trio of running backs, and Mullen also finds creative ways to get them involved in the passing game.

  • Junior WR Jacob Copeland and former 5-star WR Justin Shorter (a Penn State transfer) have the most receiving yards for the Gators this year. There is a lot of experience among the Florida WR and TE groups, but these units don't inspire fear like they did in 2020.

  • Both of Anthony Richardson's interceptions against LSU resulted from heavy pressure. Florida LT Richard Gouragie got cooked a few times by BJ Ojulari in the game. Let's see if the Junkyard Dawgs can get to Richardson on Saturday. I suspect they will find a way to get pressure, which could lead to some more poor decisions.

Florida’s performance against Alabama garnered a lot of discussion. I’m not sure how much we can take away from that game, considering that Emory Jones took virtually all of the snaps at QB. To give credit where it's due, Florida ran the ball extremely well. In addition, the Gators did not fold after getting down 21-3. The Gators have unraveled a bit over the past few weeks, but I am sure they will approach Saturday's game as their Super Bowl. Regardless, I don't expect that will be enough to prevail in the WLOCP. In conclusion, Go fucking Dawgs!

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Brennan Thomas
Brennan Thomas
Oct 29, 2021

great summary Alex! Didn’t know they were 5 in SP+ - there has to be a hole in that algorithm. Go dawgs!!

Nov 02, 2021
Replying to

Thanks man! Agreed haha, Florida did not look like a top 5 team…..

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