Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defense and Florida Gators offense at the line of scrimmage during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Grantham talks UGA ahead of big game

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been a part of this Florida-Georgia rivalry before. And he’s not only been part of it as a Gator, but as a Bulldog, too. Grantham was the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2010-2013. Now, he’s facing the rivalry for the second time as a Gator – joining the program with Dan Mullen ahead of the 2018 season.

After coming off a hard-earned win at South Carolina on Oct. 19, and then a bye weekend, Grantham knows that this weekend’s top-10 matchup has huge implications for this Florida team. He also knows stopping Georgia’s dynamic offense will be critical.

Limiting the Georgia offense

When talking to the press, Grantham listed just a few of the things the No. 8 Bulldogs are talented at when they have the ball: a physical offense line, a good quarterback, quality blocks, and stable running backs that can find gaps.

The running back the Gators need to look out for, arguably, is D’Andre Swift. The junior has rushed for 752 yards for seven touchdowns this season. That’s good enough for second best in the SEC. Grantham praised Swift for being able to find the open holes on the field, but he also said what Florida needs to do to limit his success come Saturday. It’ll require coming together as a team.

But Grantham also talked about the passing game that his defense will need to stop. The force behind Georgia’s passing game lies in the hands of quarterback Jake Fromm. The junior has thrown for over 1,400 yards on the season, tallying nine touchdowns. His three interceptions all came in the team’s shocking loss to South Carolina.

Grantham thinks Fromm is very competitive and that his IQ is among the elite. But Fromm also has a high passing accuracy – something Florida needs to disrupt come Saturday. Right now, his completion percentage is just above 70 percent, third best in the SEC.

How Florida can leave Jacksonville with a win

Right now, Georgia is averaging over 470 yards of offense a game. Curbing this, and getting the Bulldog offense off the field will be key for Florida this weekend to clinch a win. And a win for No. 6 Florida is almost necessary.

“There’s a lot riding on the game itself,” said Grantham.

That would be the control of the SEC East. The winner of this game will most likely be playing in the SEC Championship Game come December. Grantham says his players will need to stay focused Saturday, in the much bigger and different Jacksonville atmosphere.

Part of staying focused, Grantham said, includes stopping the easy plays and the easy yards. It’s executing under all the excitement.

Florida will be at full force this weekend on the defense. Last week, the team announced Jabari Zuniga and Jon Greenard will be back for the Gators. Both were out for injuries sustained this season. For Greenard, it’ll be his first game since the Auburn win. Meanwhile, Zuniga hasn’t seen the field since the LSU loss.

Despite the defensive being back at full force (something the team didn’t have in the 42-28 loss to LSU), Grantham says there’s still one big thing the defense needs to do for a victory.

It’s clear that this top-10 match up between No. 6 Florida and No. 8 Georgia could determine the winner of the SEC East, and even have College Football Playoff implications. With Florida’s defense back at full, it will be interesting to see how it squares up with Georgia’s offense. The rivalry kicks off at 3:30 pm on Nov. 2.

About Cassandra Amunndson

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