Jacksonville Sports Day

SEC: Bulldogs Preparing for Showdown with Gators

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks to members of the media at a press conference in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct., 22, 2018. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

ATHENS, Ga. – Seventh-ranked Georgia held a two-hour workout Wednesday in preparations for its upcoming SEC contest against ninth-ranked Florida in Jacksonville.

The Bulldogs and Gators meet in a pivotal game in the race for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division crown as they both enter with 4-1 league records and 6-1 overall. Speaking on the SEC head coaches weekly teleconference before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart discussed playing Florida in Jacksonville and the importance of the running game.

“Our guys are really excited for a great rivalry game, one of the best in the country as far as playing in a neutral site,” said Smart. “It’s always exciting to go down to Jacksonville and be able to play this game, especially in front of so many of our fans that live across South Georgia and it becomes an easy travel for them. We’ve had a good week of practice.”

In the Georgia-Florida game, the team with the most rushing yards has won the past 12 meetings and Smart was asked about Georgia’s rushing attack and rushing defense.

“It’s critical,” said Smart. “You look at the history of the Georgia-Florida game which we’ve done and shown our players, a team that leads it in rushing tends to win. You could probably say that about every game, but it’s not that way anymore in college football but this game has been that way. I think that running the ball takes a little stress off whoever’s quarterback is able to have a better running game. It’s certainly critical that we are able to run it but that we are also able to stop the run.”

Florida head coach Dan Mullen, speaking on Wednesday’s SEC head coaches weekly teleconference, also agreed about the rushing element in this game.

“Both teams really like to establish the run, and offenses that really base themselves on being a running football team,” said Mullen. “The ability to control the line of scrimmage, especially anytime when you’re in a big game, is usually a huge factor. If one team is really dominating the line of scrimmage, then that’s probably going to be the team that is going to win the game. We have to do a great job on both sides of the ball. They like to run the ball. We like to run the ball.”

Like Georgia, the Gators were off this Saturday and Mullen said he was pleased with how the Gators handled the open date.

“We’re coming off the bye week, and I think our guys used that time to work on some technique, fundamentals and improve some different things that you don’t always get time to work on during a game week,” said Mullen. “We’ve had a pretty good week of practice, and I know the guys are excited to go play in this game. It’s a fun game to be a part of, a great rivalry game in a great setting. It should be a lot of fun.”

Saturday’s kickoff at TIAA Bank Field is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

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