Shirley: It’s time for Georgia to bounce back

November 1, 2013 

The season certainly has not gone the way Georgia fans would have liked. But most of those issues can be washed away with a win Saturday.

Yes, the Georgia-Florida game is that big, and even though both teams have struggled with injuries and unexpected losses, Saturday’s game is still that important.

But this game isn’t just about pride, although it looked last week like it would be. With Missouri’s loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs and Gators have both jumped right back in the SEC East race.

They will need some help, for sure, but at least they have a chance now, and that’s all they can ask. With the season they have had, that’s probably more than they deserve.

Both teams are 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC as both rosters have been ravaged by injuries. It has been a stunning stretch for both the Bulldogs and Gators as they have seen key players get knocked out of games and numerous players lost for the season.

But none of that will matter if the Bulldogs can win Saturday. Beating the Gators can get the Bulldogs back on the right track and give them a push to a strong finish to the season.

If they’re healthy (or at least healthier), the Bulldogs should be able to do just that.

The key to that is Todd Gurley’s return from an ankle injury. Who knows how much he will be able to contribute after coming back from the injury he suffered against LSU. It’s hard to ever know how a player will react to being out and how much he can immediately help his team when he returns.

Gurley won’t be 100 percent, but if he’s close, he can give the Bulldogs a big boost. He is that important to the Georgia offense, and his return, along with Michael Bennett coming back, can help the Bulldogs offset some other injuries that have hit the team. Defensively, they are getting healthier, as well, with the return of Tray Matthews and with Josh Harvey-Clemons being cleared to play after an injury he suffered against Vanderbilt.

The Gators have had their own rash of injuries, but they’re not getting those players back for this big game. And that should be a big advantage for the Bulldogs.

It should help enough to give the Bulldogs their third straight win over the Gators, and that’s something that Georgia fans certainly will enjoy after the trying season they have endured.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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