The Air Raid has landed in Gainesville, and It’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
Dan Mullen has rejuvenated a stagnant Florida program with a high-powered offense, something Florida fans haven’t seen since, well, Mullen left the program in 2009. Mullen has put trust in his offense to perform, even with an inexperienced offensive line and several quarterbacks. Mullen has played to his strong-suit more recently, as for most of the South Carolina game Florida relied on the pass to move the ball down the field. Mullen knows that the offensive line is better suited for pass protection and is slowly improving game by game.
Kyle Trask was efficient, as he got the job done even in the pouring rain. Mullen knows Trask is best suited to run this offense with safe reads and an improving pocket presence. After the South Carolina game, it was obvious that the Gators had no issues with being “one dimensional”, and that Mullen is not afraid to give up the run - even if the defense is giving it to him.
This will be a key to Florida’s success next week, as the No. 6 Florida Gators will head to Jacksonville to face the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs.
We all know Florida will focus on the passing game, and Georgia’s pass defense is respectable, but nothing that the Gators should struggle with. Florida threw for 311 yards against LSU, who has three of the best defensive backs in the entire country in Grant Delpit, Kristian Fulton, and freshman Derek Stingley Jr. The Bulldogs are allowing 181 passing yards per game, good enough to rank No. 18 in the nation in that category, and they still rank sixth in total defense.
Georgia will struggle to cover the versatile Kyle Pitts, as Georgia was picked apart by Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet last month. Kmet racked up 108 of the Fighting Irish's 275 receiving yards and was Notre Dame’s go-to guy all night to move the chains. He also won John Mackey Tight End of the Week Award for his efforts against the Bulldogs.
Kyle Pitts is a bit of a different type of threat, as he seems to be played more on the outside compared to Kmet. No matter who Georgia puts on Pitts, it won’t matter, as Pitts consistently finds ways to get open.
And if Georgia chooses to double-cover Pitts? Great. That opens up space for one of Florida's other dynamic receivers to make plays.
No one can stop Kyle Pitts, as he is ranked third nationally in tight end receptions at 35, which he has gained 391 yards off of and has scored four times. He is an anomaly at his position, and even the best coverage defenders don’t have an answer for him in one on one-man coverage.
Eric Stokes is the Bulldogs number one corner, but if he is matched up with Van Jefferson, I have no worries with that matchup. Van Jefferson toasted Stingley Jr. a few weeks back, and he plays against C.J. Henderson in practice. Stokes has the speed to stick with Jefferson, but it won’t matter if Jefferson can create space as he did against Stingley.
Florida will get back the electric Kadarius Toney, as he returns from a shoulder injury suffered in the second game of the season. Toney is bound to get some serious touches after missing as much time as he did, but Mullen will continue to cycle his receivers in and out to wear down a thin Georgia secondary. Florida can play Jefferson, Pitts, Toney, Josh Hammond, Tyrie Cleveland, Jacob Copeland, Trevon Grimes, Freddie Swain and all with a very high level of success. Mullen knows how reliable his quarterback and wide receiver room are, and if he was throwing on LSU 44 times, there’s no telling what can happen against Georgia.
Georgia’s secondary is not very deep, and Dan Mullen will take advantage of a clear mismatch between Florida’s veteran receivers compared to Georgia’s younger defensive backs. Gator fans know what to expect from Georgia’s corners coach in Charlton Warren, who was formerly Florida’s defensive backs coach in 2018. We know what he does with his corners, and quite truthfully, developing them wasn’t his strong suit.
If Florida can keep drives going and wear down the Bulldogs defense, it could get ugly as Georgia only has a solid two deep, especially at the corner position. Tyson Campbell still has a lingering turf toe injury and hasn’t played for multiple weeks as he recuperates. Campbell has been held back at practice as a result of the injury, and things could be very bad if Georgia has a corner go down, similar to Florida in last years’ game.
Florida has unbelievable receiver depth, and with Toney being back there are no limits to what Dan Mullen can draw up in the passing game. As long as the Florida offensive line can do well enough in pass protection, I see Kyle Trask throwing for 275+ yards and at least two touchdowns on Saturday. If Mullen can push the tempo and get the ball out quick to get Georgia on their heels, Florida will have no trouble scoring on a run-of-the-mill Bulldogs defense.