Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta knows the Georgia-Florida game as well as anyone on the team.
He lived in Jacksonville from the time he was 7 until he was 14 or 15 years old, and his family often tailgated for the game. With regards to this year’s contest, he said he knows many of the players on Florida’s team from camps and 7-on-7s, adding that many of the Gators “love to talk.”
With that in mind, Nauta brought up what he thinks will be one of the biggest keys to Saturday’s matchup between No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Florida.
“This game is about composure, too,” Nauta said. “You can’t get caught out of control and the next thing you know, you’re costing the team because you can’t keep your mouth shut.”
As anyone who will be consuming cocktails outdoors this weekend knows, trash talk is nothing new to this rivalry. Nauta said that’s the way the game has been his first two years at Georgia, and he anticipates it staying that way.
"You can’t get caught out of control and the next thing you know, you’re costing the team because you can’t keep your mouth shut.”
- Isaac Nauta, Georgia tight end
However, not every Georgia player has the same experience as Nauta. Several Bulldogs will be playing in their first contest in Jacksonville, including starting offensive linemen Cade Mays and Isaiah Wilson and starting corner Tyson Campbell.
“Just harping on it, letting them know that composure is a real thing in this game and you need to have it,” Nauta said when asked how to keep the freshmen from losing their cool.
Although the offense is coming off its worst performance of the season on Oct. 13 against LSU, Nauta said he didn’t think the offense lost its composure against the Tigers. Receiver Mecole Hardman voiced the same opinion, saying he didn’t remember the Bulldogs committing any undisciplined penalties.
Hardman said despite the hype around this weekend’s game, it won’t be hard to keep composure because the coaches constantly preach it at practice.
“Some guys don’t like to get hit and their natural reaction is to hit back,” Hardman said. “But you know, guys that can keep their composure and stay calm are the guys that are doing things right at practice before the game.”
Hardman also said that composure isn’t something players think of in the moment, but rather something they already have. It will be those split-second decisions, whether to engage in the extracurricular activity or not, that will prove critical in Jacksonville on Saturday.
“We just make sure we stay composed at all times because penalties, undisciplined penalties in a game can kill you, especially on a drive or on a key, critical down,” Hardman said. “Always want to keep composure and we always preach it through our practice, and it translates to the game.”