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Georgia Played Its Best Game of the Season Against Florida

Daijuan Edwards and Carson Beck both had excellent games on Saturday. Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

If the Georgia Bulldogs go on to win a third consecutive national title, we’ll look back on the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party as the turning point in the season.

The first seven games of the campaign—aside from a shellacking of Kentucky—were highlighted by slow starts and sloppy play. At least, sloppy in comparison to what we’ve seen since 2021; not sloppy in comparison to most college football teams. It appeared another slow start, thanks to a Florida touchdown on their first drive, could create a nervous atmosphere in Jacksonville. But the Dawgs, as they’ve done time and time again this year, kept their eyes on the prize and never got rattled. Then that slow start gave way to an absolute beatdown, with Georgia taking total control in the second quarter and going on to win 43-20.

The slow starts have been the biggest area of concern this season. The problem hasn’t only been giving up early scores and playing from behind, as we’ve now done against South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Auburn and, now, Florida. But the experience in those situations has made them better in them. So when Trey Wilson scooted 25 yards for the opening score, there was more trust that we could crawl out of this small hole because we’ve done it before. And it’s not taking as long as it once did. South Carolina held a lead for a half, while Auburn held it for a full quarter. But against Vandy and Florida, the Dawgs responded more quickly, equalizing and leading them, respectively, before the end of the first quarter sounded. 

“There’s not a lot of panic in that group,” Kirby Smart said of the defense. “They need to rectify starting the game better, but the comfortable part is that nobody panics.”

The major positive from this game—other than just beating the hell out of Florida—was how the offense played without Brock Bowers, although that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Bowers is so great that he overshadows a group of legitimately very good receivers and tight ends, guys who were four- and five-stars in their own right or top receiving threats on their former teams in the case of transfers. But those dudes can play, and they got the chance to remind everyone against the Gators.

Ladd McConkey was front and center among that group, finishing with six catches for 135 yards and his first touchdown of the season. That touchdown came on a 41-yard catch-and-scamper in which he stopped on a dime and changed directions to leave the Florida defense in the dust. It was the type of showing we’ve come to expect from McConkey before a lingering back injury kept him out early this season.

Credit must be given to Carson Beck, who is settling into his role as a game manager. Becky threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Smart pointed out after the game that a lot of what Beck does that makes him valuable is probably lost on the average fan like you and me.

“He does an elite job with run checks, looks, puts in the best play, the decision to throw the RPO or hand the ball off,” Smart said. “There’s not really a value you can put on that.”

Another player who has stepped up to improve this offense is Daijun Edwards, who had 95 yards at 5.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns against Florida. Nevermind the numbers, though. I just love watching him play. He looks like a vintage Georgia tailback, between the way he runs with power and hits the hole and the way he blocks. He’s become one of my favorite players on this team and will be a key cog down the stretch by keeping us out of long downs and opening up the passing game.

Hopefully, such a complete victory will give us the confidence and momentum to finish the regular season strong as we enter its toughest stretch. I feel like I’ve been harping on the three-game run of Missouri, Ole Miss, and Tennessee since the first weeks of the season, and we’re finally here, with Mizzou on deck next. Everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us. And the scary part for the rest of college football is that we still have room to improve. If we’re locked in and play at the level we played against Florida, there ain’t a team we won’t beat.