Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Okefenokee Oar

Today's Florida - Georgia game will add a new tradition, the Okefenokee Oar as the trophy. Nice. (And we can't wait to hear Vern and Gary Danielson pronounce Okefenokee for the first time).

There also is something else to consider. Saturday's Florida-Georgia rivalry game will add a new twist to its storied tradition when the winning school is awarded the Okefenokee Oar, the new traveling trophy for this annual series.

Carved from an Okefenokee Swamp cypress tree estimated to be 1,000 years old, the Okefenokee Oar is a joint effort between the University of Florida and University of Georgia student governments. The Oar symbolizes a border dispute between Florida and Georgia that took place during the colonial period. The Florida-Georgia border runs through the Okefenokee Swamp.

From a matchup standpoint, the first War for the Oar favors the Gators. Florida enters the game with the SEC's top-rated offense (457.0 yards per game), and Georgia's defense is ranked 10th in the 12-team SEC in yards allowed (365.6 ypg). Defensively, the Gators are ranked No. 1 in the league in nearly every statistical category, and Georgia's post-Matt Stafford-Knowshon Moreno offense has committed 17 turnovers in seven games.

Florida's offense has had its own problems, of course. Tebow has committed four turnovers in the past two weeks, and Florida's red-zone offense has been strangely abysmal to begin the season.

In conference play, the Gators have converted just 7 of 25 red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.

``We haven't played a complete game yet, which is amazing to the fact that we are 7-0,'' UF defensive tackle Terron Sanders said. ``That shows how tough our team is -- how close we are. Once we put a complete game together with all phases of the game, it's going to be something special to watch.''

Photo: Nathan Crabbe
Photo: Florida Alligator

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