Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

semerson@macon.comOctober 27, 2012 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We are at halftime of a pretty wild game so far, with great play by defense, and not so much by quarterbacks. Georgia leads 7-6, and here are seven thoughts and observations:

1. The final play of the half could end up being the game-changer. Bacarri Rambo picked off the pass in the end zone - when Florida's Jeff Driskel should have just ate it. (A lesson Aaron Murray should've learned too.) For awhile Florida was poised to take the lead, and then perhaps take a six-point lead. But Driskel's decision and Rambo's pick negated that, and the momentum belongs to the Bulldogs. That could be huge.

2. Aaron Murray is validating the critics who say he doesn't play well in big games. Actually, he's playing well short of it: Three interceptions, two of them leading to scoring drives for Florida. (Murray is lucky both scores were just field goals.) But Georgia can't make a change at quarterback. You don't burn Hutson Mason's redshirt for one half, unless the game is absolutely in the balance, and right now the Bulldogs are in this game. And you don't go to Christian LeMay or Parker Welch. You ride Murray until, well, you have no choice.

3. Murray's second interception, the one in the red zone, could end up coming back to kill the team. The first one was negated a few plays later when the defense forced another fumble. But on the subsequent drive Murray was picked off again - his third-down pass, throwing across the body, was behind Rantavious Wooten, and pinballed until it was grabbed by Florida. Just take the sack there, and the (probable) field goal, and you're up 10-0. It may be a whole different game there.

4. Maybe Shawn Williams should be SEC coach of the year. You could tell right away that the Georgia defense had a different energy to it. It was playing physical, whether it was getting to the quarterback, stopping the run up or just getting to the ball. That was no better epitomized than on a key fourth down, in Georgia territory, when Jeff Driskel was run down and stopped by ... Williams.

5. Of course, it also helps to have Jarvis Jones: The star linebacker had six tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovered and a sack ... over the first 20 minutes.

6. But Jordan Jenkins is also playing like a monster. The freshman outside linebacker isn't going to get adequate credit in the stat sheet, but several times he had a very important pressure on the quarterback. One of those ended up with a Driskel third-down pass being tipped by John Jenkins, leading to a field goal instead of a touchdown.

7. Georgia gets the ball to start the second half. Florida has been great at making halftime adjustments this year. But the Gators will have a much harder time playing from behind because they're not as good a downfield passing team. So it's incumbent on Murray to get his stuff together, and take the pressure off the defense. If he doesn't do that, then Georgia will in all probability lose. But if he does, Georgia could very well save its season.

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