Well, time to update my bio page, because Florida's 34-31 overtime win against Georgia definitely goes near the top of the list of best sporting events I've ever attended.
A good game really snuck up on everyone today. The Gators led 21-7 at the half and it wasn't particularly well-played, but things really got going in the fourth quarter, when the two teams combined for 31 points to send it to overtime, where Will Hill picked off a pass and Chas Henry ended it with a 37-yard field goal.
I went down on the sideline for overtime, and it was without a doubt the best atmosphere I've ever witnessed. My complaint about the neutral site for this game has always been that, while it's never quiet, it's rarely very loud. That wasn't the case in overtime.
As they prepared for the coin toss, both sides of the stadium were going completely nuts, with players dancing on the field and the most deafening noise level I've ever heard there. As a Jaguars fan, seeing 84,444 rabid fans at EverBank Field made me pretty jealous. If the Jags had that every Sunday they'd be really tough to deal with.
I'll get more into what Florida's offense did differently as the week goes on, but here are my thoughts coming out of the game.
UF ran a no-huddle offense, which seemed to work pretty well. UF coach Urban Meyer (that's him in the blue shirt in the picture, and that's punter/hero kicker Chas Henry ahead of Meyer on his teammates' shoulders) loved Oklahoma's no-huddle attack in 2008, and tonight was the best I've seen the Gators run it. Florida used to call that the "Banzai Offense," and it was more of a hurry-up-and-wait scheme where they audible five times, call timeout or jump offsides. Looked better tonight, but I guess that's what happens when you have two weeks to practice it.
The offense definitely looked different tonight, but a lot of that had to do with personnel. Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee didn't play, and those frustrating dive and swing pass calls stayed on the sideline with them. Instead, Chris Rainey sparked the outside running game, which opened things up for Trey Burton to run up the middle. Burton went wild, picking up 110 yards and two scores on 17 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Florida did an awful lot of rotating at quarterback between John Brantley, Burton and even Jordan Reed, who had 19 yards on three carries and definitely needs more chances. I like the different looks, but I'd also like to see them find a way to succeed with Brantley. As things stand, it's pretty clear they aren't confident enough in Brantley to shape the offense around him.
But maybe they don't need to. The main issue I see is that Brantley isn't going to run and Burton isn't going to throw, so Florida is still predictable based on who they put back there. But with Rainey back and Jeff Demps on his way to full health, there are a lot of possibilities for what the Gators can do out of the backfield. They also used some pre-snap motions to swap Burton and Brantley in hopes of messing with the defense. Never looked like it worked particularly well to me, but it was something, right?
That's really what this game came down to for me. After the bland, crappy performances of the past month, the Gators needed to come out and show they had a pulse. They did that today. Even noted ball-dropper Deonte Thompson looked good. That catch down at the 2-yard line to set up Demps' touchdown run was incredible. On the flipside, UF did a good job on UGA stud wideout AJ Green (4 catches, 42 yards, TD). By the way, Green called for the ball on his TD in triple coverage, then scored anyway. Kid's a baller.
What was your favorite moment from tonight's game? What impressed you and what didn't? And where does that rank for you all-time for Florida-Georgia games? Anyone dressing up as Chas for Halloween?