Florida (3-3, 2-3 SEC) has never beaten Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) under head coach Will Muschamp. As a player for the Bulldogs, Muschamp never beat the Gators between 1991-1994. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will commence this weekend in Jacksonville when the Gators and Bulldogs get together for their annual meeting.
“There’s nothing like it, coming over the bridge and getting ready for this game and the excitement that’ll be in the air, certainly on game day, but the build up to it,” Muschamp said.
During the bye week, Muschamp declared that true freshman Treon Harris will get his first start at quarterback, replacing redshirt junior Jeff Driskel.
“Treon will be getting his first start,” he said. “Excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do. A guy that has a knack for making plays. He’s got a calm, cool, collective air about himself and how he carries himself, and I think he’ll play well.”
The Gators have struggled mightily at producing anything on offense. One reason for that is they turn the ball over at an alarming rate. They’ve turned it over 15 times in the last four games, six of those coming in their previous game against Missouri. Muschamp emphasized the importance of ball security to his team during the bye week.
“When you get opportunities to make plays, you gotta make some plays and that’s how you build confidence within a game situation. Those opportunities will happen on Saturday. You gotta go out there and coach well and prepare your players for those situations when they happen. You gotta go make some plays. You gotta catch the ball, you gotta throw it to the right spots, you can’t force the ball, you gotta take care of the football. That’s the number one thing our team needs to do right now is take care of the ball. If we’re able to do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. And if we don’t take care of the ball, it don’t really matter.”
A few of the players on Florida are from the state of Georgia, including linebacker Michael Taylor and center Max Garcia. Neither of them have beaten the Bulldogs since they’ve been at UF, so they’re desperate for a win.
“Being recruited by them (Georgia) and being recruited from the state of Georgia means a lot because you chose to go away for college,” Taylor said. “It’s a big game, it impacts us too as it does probably Muschamp too, he went there. It’s a big game for all of us, it’s the border rivalry. You want to play good in this game. This game has decided who’s going to come out of the [SEC] East for the last couple years, except for last year.”
“I’m a Georgia boy. One of the first memories I have is watching this game. I just feel like this game has so much hype, so much tension around it,” Max Garcia said. “I don’t even know how to describe the atmosphere. It’s so much antsiness and anxiousness around the game. It’s a huge game. Guys are really locked in from our lift this morning, guys are just focusing on trying to get better.”
Despite the controversy surrounding whether Muschamp is going to lose his job, his players are standing by him. Garcia referred to him as a “father figure.” Mike Taylor “wouldn’t want to play for anybody else right now.”
One way the Gators can at least improve the chances of Muschamp sticking around until the end of the season is to get their first win against Georgia since 2010.
Florida and Georgia will kickoff from Everbank field in Jacksonville on Saturday at 3:30. Pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN 850 WRUF.
For audio of the above quotes, click below:
Muschamp on the excitement before Florida Georgia
Muschamp on Treon starting at QB
Muschamp on taking care of the football
Mike Taylor on the hype surrounding this game, especially being from Georgia
Max Garcia on what this game means to him