JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were one of the major themes during Saturday’s game.
Both teams were caught up in a scramble of unsportsmanlike penalties on at least three separate occasions.
“It was tough, but seeing that a lot of them were offset helped us out a little bit,” Georgia defensive end Ray Drew said. “That’s just because of the intensity of the game. If you go out and you see someone you dislike, just hate with all your heart, it’s going to be hard for you not to say something to them.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt has been around long enough to see games of this magnitude on multiple occasions and chalked it up to the meaning of the rivalry.
“These guys are competitors. It’s a bitter rivalry,” Richt said. “We wanted their blood pumping and we wanted them to be able to compete fiercely. It’s just a highly competitive game.”
UNBEATEN: Tampa, Fla., native Aaron Murray almost decided to play at Florida coming out of Plant High School, but went on to win three games against his home state’s flagship school instead.
Saturday’s 23-20 victory over the Gators earned Murray and teammates some bragging rights over Georgia squads of the past 20 years.
“Three in a row is awesome. It’s a great feeling,” Murray said. “This is just such a great game. It’s a true blessing and it’s a great feeling to win three in a row; something that hasn’t happened in 24 years.”
SENIOR TEARS: Defensive lineman Garrison Smith made the most of his final outing against Florida.
The senior finished with nine tackles, two less than team leader Ramik Wilson. Smith also notched 2.5 sacks for a loss of 12 yards.
“I’m in tears right now because that game means so much to me. I just wanted to win,” Smith said. “These are tears of passion for this game.”
‘SPECIAL’ PLAY: Georgia’s special teams didn’t have room for error during Saturday’s matchup.
For starters, this week’s ongoing battle for first-team long snapper on punts ended in a victory for Nathan Theus.
Theus, a Jacksonville native, started Saturday, but wasn’t forced to snap a punt to Collin Barber until the second quarter.
“Nate Theus did a great job going back in there as our punt snapper,” Richt said. “I think he did a nice job.”
Kicker Marshall Morgan left no room for criticism. He hit on three field goal attempts, with a long of 49.
Also a Florida native, Morgan didn’t seem to be feeling too much pressure Saturday.
“It’s just a great feeling, you know,” Morgan said. “It’s just really humbling. I can’t wait to get back to Athens and talk to all my friends from Florida.”