Mailbag: Florida-Georgia

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:

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.

GAbread: With Abry Jones out for the year, who besides Smith do you see picking up some playing time?

RN: Georgia will not confirm that Jones is out for the year following surgery on his ankle but Mark Richt did say that Jones will not play against Florida. With the senior defensive end out, I expect his spot to be filled by Cornelius Washington with Chase Vasser and Jordan Jenkins taking over at the WILL linebacker. Ray Drew could also see more time and Richt referred to a scheme where Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins are on the field at the same time.

JFridawg: I checked the weather for Jacksonville today and it looks like weather could be a factor. How might it affect the game?

RN: Hurricane Sandy is going to be east of Jacksonville, heading north on Saturday and the weather outlook is not promising. Rain causes turnovers but the idea that the passing games halt due to rain is incorrect. A wet ball isn’t that hard to throw. But a windy day, as associated with a nearby hurricane to tropical storm, well, that will force teams to turn to the running game and become more one dimensional. If Florida doesn’t have to respect the pass, then the safeties will come up and make life miserable for a Georgia offense that has had trouble running the ball in back-to-back weeks. Florida’s running game has been its strength this year while the Bulldogs’ run defense has been sketchy.

kvd171: How does the offensive line look this week? Who is rotating on that left side?

RN: The line looks the same but I don’t think that is set in stone. Richt even said Tuesday that he was not sure who was going to start at left tackle. Either Mark Beard will start and Kenarious Gates will move to left guard or Gates will stay at left tackle and Dallas Lee will start at left guard. Richt was bullish on Beard this week and said he would play in this game regardless of who starts.

“Mark Beard has really come on for us,” Richt said. “He played a little bit more in the Kentucky game than in some of the games prior to that due to Dallas Lee tweaking his ankle a little bit, but he’s an athletic guy. He’s getting more comfortable as we go, and it’s not a bad looking lineup when Beard’s in there.”

Bravos2012: What does Florida’s injury report look like going into the game?

RN: The Gators are rather healthy heading into this game. Wide receiver Latroy Pittman has an ankle issue, but he did practice Tuesday and is expected to be available. Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs has a leg injury and is questionable for Saturday. Two other players who will not suit up against Georgia are offensive lineman Matt Patchan (torn pectoral) and defensive back Cody Riggs (foot).