Georgia was quite close to doing something no one had done against Florida since 1988.
That would be holding the Gators to zero points.
This hasn’t happened since Oct. 29, 1988, when Auburn blanked Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Bulldogs almost achieved this feat in what turned into a 42-7 blowout over the Gators Saturday. But with 2:42 to go in the game, Florida running back Mark Thompson was able to punch in a 1-yard touchdown, preserving the longest non-shutout streak in the country.
Thompson’s score came with Georgia’s second-team defense in the game.
And therefore, despite the dominating performance, head coach Kirby Smart became a bit animated on the topic during his post-game news conference.
“They were pissed. I was pissed,” Smart said. “We put guys in and the idea is they go in and play to a standard. They didn’t do that. If we would have had 85 guys here instead of 70, I would have put 11 other ones in, to give them an opportunity to get better.”
After Florida scored, some of the starters spoke with the backups about allowing the late score.
Safety Dominick Sanders said he spoke with the players on that Florida scoring drive with the goal of coaching them up for future moments like that.
“We made mistakes though, and the second team, we got on those guys about the mistakes we made,” Sanders said. “That’s what we get another day for, to clean those mistakes up. Deep down inside, the seniors wanted the shutout. But sometimes you can’t get all that you ask for. We told those guys to keep your head up and coach them up, and get them ready for next week.”
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said the first-team defense let the backups know that there is a lot of room for improvement.
“We just let them know they can’t let up,” Carter said. “We checked a few people, but at the end of the day it’s all out of love and they knew that. We’re going to come back and get a few things fixed, and let them know there can’t be any let up.”
On the scoring drive, Florida began on its own 29-yard line. The Gators ran nine plays, which included a 27-yard rush from quarterback Malik Zaire. And that rushing play came following two consecutive false start penalties that created a first-and-20.
“We got some guys we didn’t get to bring who could have played better than maybe some of the guys who got to play in these opportunities,” Smart said. “Those guys are learning lessons from the older guys because after the game, the old guys told them, ‘Go to class, listen in walkthroughs, pay attention because you’re the next guy up.’ I don’t think some of them acknowledge that and that’s my frustration with it.”