The Georgia Bulldogs are not being confused for Alabama or Florida from a scoring standpoint this football season, but that doesn't mean the offensive components of the Bulldogs aren't having fun.
Before the Crimson Tide and Gators each tallied 41 points last Saturday night in their respective routs of Mississippi State and Missouri, the Bulldogs were plodding through a 14-3 victory at Kentucky. Georgia and Florida meet this Saturday in Jacksonville for a top-10 showdown that should have monster implications on the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division race, and the Bulldogs are confident they have a highly effective way of winning even if style points are not earned.
"I trust the coaches, and I trust that they will have a great game plan for us," junior left tackle Jamaree Salyer said. "I trust that we can do whatever we want to do when we want to do it. It's just about playing clean, playing physical, playing fast and playing hard. It's everybody understanding their roles and not trying to be the hero. We're coming off a 14-point game, but it was a game we played very physical in. I think we have a lot of things we can build on and a lot of places to go.
"I'm excited for our offense to just explode and for us to put it all together."
That Georgia is waiting for an explosive attack entering the second half of this 10-game season is not what Bulldogs fans had in mind this past summer with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and a stocked quarterback room headed by Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman and Southern California transfer JT Daniels. Newman, of course, opted out of this season, while Daniels has yet to take a snap, which resulted in D'Wan Mathis starting the opener at Arkansas before struggling and being replaced by former walk-on Stetson Bennett.
Bennett has thrown five interceptions the past two games, including two that were tipped, which has Florida with the expected quarterback advantage this week due to the continuing development of Kyle Trask.
"I'm really confident in our offense, because I see what we do every day in practice," redshirt sophomore running back Zamir White said. "I see Stetson in practice. I see the linemen and everybody else, so I'm real confident in the whole offense."
White is Georgia's top offensive threat, having rushed a career-high 26 times for a career-best 136 yards and a touchdown at Kentucky. His effectiveness early against the Gators could go a long way in not putting too much on Bennett, who held his own during the first half of the Oct. 17 game at Alabama before unraveling in that eventual 41-24 loss.
For the season, the 6-foot, 210-pound White has rushed 90 times for 402 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
"I feel like Zamir has always been really effective in terms of toughness, but he's getting more comfortable in our run game," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "We're probably doing a better job putting a hat on a hat, but teams get better at defending you as well, so you have to decorate it different ways. I think we've gotten better in the run game because we're running similar runs and carrying them over from week to week.
"I thought last week was one of his better games. There were times that he had contact in the backfield, and he turned it into a 5-yard run. He turned 3-yard runs into 6-yard runs. He ran behind his pads and kept his balance. I thought he did a really good job."
Rushing yards were hard to come by in last season's matchup, when D'Andre Swift compiled 86 of Georgia's 119-yard ground total and the Bulldogs held the Gators to just 21 rushing yards. By controlling the tempo in the game, a 24-17 Georgia win, the Bulldogs limited Florida to seven offensive possessions.
"Games play out every different way, and you have to be ready for that type of game," Florida coach Dan Mullen said. "They had eight possessions, and we had seven possessions. You have ideas and thoughts about how a game can play out, and if it's a low-possession game, you have to be very efficient offensively. You also have to make the stops defensively."
The team with the most rushing yards has won the past 14 Georgia-Florida games, so the Bulldogs would savor another 14-3 triumph this weekend, no matter how mundane it looked.
"I don't think any of us have a problem with the game being on our shoulders if it has to be," Salyer said. "I don't think it has to be, but if we have to run the ball 12 straight times in one drive like we did at Kentucky, we're going to make that happen, because that's the kind of program we are. We take pride in lining up and knocking people off the ball."
Said White: "I don't really care how many carries I get. I just want to be in there and win games. That's all that matters to me."
Odds and ends
Smart said Wednesday that he is hopeful injured junior defensive lineman Jordan Davis (elbow) can "play a role" in Saturday's game. Senior safety Richard LeCounte, who sustained a concussion and a bruised rib during a motorcycle accident Saturday night, has received treatment this week in Georgia's training room. Smart said the status of sophomore receiver George Pickens will be a "pain-tolerance deal." Pickens is dealing with what Smart has labeled an "upper-body extremity."