Arts & CultureFlag Football

How Georgia—and Fans—Can Win the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Hey, I heard you hate Florida. Cool! I do, too! We should be friends. High five!

We’re just a few days away from the biggest event on the Georgia football calendar, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and the Florida game has taken on an unexpected level of importance. Georgia’s loss to LSU and No. 11 Florida’s better-than-expected performance this season (6-1 with a win over LSU) has created a mild panic among the Georgia fanbase about the potential for an upset.

As Georgia tries to forge ahead in the SEC East and attempts to get itself back in the College Football Playoff picture, the name of the game is survival. If the Dawgs win out, including the SEC Championship, they’ll go to the CFP.

As a fan attempting to navigate the debauchery of a WLOCP weekend, the name of the game is also survival. And now that we’re friends, I thought I’d provide a bit of helpful advice. Here’s a WLOCP Survival Guide with three tips apiece for fans and the team to help everyone make it out of Jacksonville alive.

Run the Dang Ball: Whether you think Georgia went away from the run or LSU took it away two weeks ago, the fact remains that the Dawgs were ineffective on the ground in Baton Rouge. They rushed for 113 yards against the Tigers, well off the 245 yards per game they were averaging before last week. For a team that prides itself on dominating opponents with the run, that cannot stand—especially considering Florida is 72nd nationally in run defense and allowed 300 rushing yards in its only loss of the season. If Georgia is to dominate Florida, Kirby Smart needs to feed Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift early and often.

Pace Yourself: There was a time when you could do an entire Friday of drinking on Frat Beach, party through the night and still feel fresh as a daisy for tailgating the next morning. Those days are gone. You aren’t as young as you once were, and you should act like it. Drink your fill, have a good time, but just don’t go too far. Hangovers hurt more than they used to. (Students can disregard this section. You only get four or five of these weekends as an undergrad, so enjoy it and party down!)

Create Turnovers: One of the keys to the LSU loss was Georgia’s lack of turnovers. The Dawgs got behind early, and a turnover could have done wonders by giving the struggling offense good field position. In the six games before LSU, Georgia caused five fumbles and had four interceptions, with at least one every game, and scored two defensive touchdowns. The absence of a big swing like that was a killer against the Tigers. Georgia has to get back on track and win the turnover battle against the Gators, or this game will be much too close for comfort.

Drink a ‘Truck Driver’: I know what I said about pacing yourself, but at some point, you’re gonna need a pick-me-up. That’s what the Truck Driver is for. For the uninitiated, the Truck Driver, a cocktail I learned from Athens’ own Futurebirds, is a simple mixture of whiskey and 5-Hour Energy in whatever proportions you prefer. Luckily, 5-Hour Energy or another company that sells similar caffeine-infused beverage-like substances usually hands out free samples outside the stadium, so you probably won’t even need to buy half the ingredients. (Neither the author nor Flagpole is responsible for any blackouts or heart attacks suffered in Jacksonville.)

If Fromm Sucks, Yank Him: I’ve tried my best not to go all Chicken Little in the wake of the LSU loss, which means I’ve held off on any hot “bench Fromm, start Fields” takes. In general, Jake Fromm has been somewhere between solid and really good this season. He’s completing 67 percent of his passes and thrown for 1,409 yards and 13 touchdowns. But he was abysmal against LSU, and Justin Fields should’ve gotten a couple complete drives. If it’s looking like we’re in for a repeat performance from Fromm in Jacksonville, Smart needs to be willing to give Fields a shot, if for no other reason than to force the Florida defense to react and respond to a new offensive look.

Don’t Talk (Too Much) Smack: Make no mistake, you have bragging rights until kickoff and can talk all the smack your heart desires. Just remember we’re coming off a loss, and they ain’t. We lost to LSU, and they didn’t. Gator fans are full of belief right now, so if you throw a jab at them, they’re gonna throw one right back. And if the worst happens and Georgia does lose, you don’t want to have to see the Florida fan you literally barked at for 10 minutes before the game while you slink back to your car. Err on the side of caution and let the result from last season do your talking before kickoff. But if/when we do win, bark to your heart’s content. And, of course, regardless of the result, never stop hating Florida, my friend.