I read all of Bill Connelly’s concerns about the Tigers secondary during the week leading up to the game, but somehow I still was unprepared for how porous Missouri’s pass coverage was. The number of times I saw all of Georgia’s receivers properly covered/defended on a given play could have been counted on one hand, and I wouldn’t have needed all my fingers, either. Considering that Fromm threw the ball 26 times, that’s not good.
The Tigers sold out to stop the interior run and were moderately successful doing so. That left outside runs and that whole throwing the ball thing, which they were anything but moderately successful defending.
Mizzou wound up even on turnover margin — the first game against a P5 opponent they managed that feat this season — scored more points against Georgia than any team the Dawgs have played… and still lost by 25.
If nothing else, now we know that making Fromm beat you isn’t always a winning strategy when you face Georgia.
Bullet points, for the win:
- Okay, Jake wasn’t perfect, but he was close enough that his big error of the day, the interception, barely slowed things down. His pre-snap reads were effective, he ran the read option well (I only saw one misread when he should have kept the ball), he handled the blitz flawlessly and, as usual, he displayed nice touch and accuracy on his passes. It’s exciting to think where he’ll be with a year’s experience under his belt reading SEC defenses.
- Mecole Hardman is real and he’s spectacular.
- D’Andre Swift ain’t too shabby, either.
- The Dawgs didn’t run much I-formation stuff, but Christian Payne is due a shout-out for the crushing block he laid that opened up Hardman’s touchdown run.
- Speaking of crushing, Sony Michel.
- The offensive line had a little trouble with Missouri’s run defense at times, but pass blocked well. Fromm faced little pressure throughout the night, which certainly contributed to his poise. On the other hand, Chubb got next to no support running up the middle. He singlehandedly prevented a safety through sheer effort when Missouri defensive lineman shot past Kindley.
- I think Georgia just converted another third down.
- It used to be they’d save Chubb for the fourth quarter to pound tired defenses into submission. Now they just unleash Herrien and Holyfield for that.
- Hurdling, for the win. I mean, Charlie Woerner? (That was a fun run after the catch to watch.)
- The two long passes Drew Lock threw for touchdowns were disappointing, to say the least. The first looked like it was the result of a busted coverage, as Reed was too late getting over to provide safety help. I’m not exactly sure who deserves fault for the second, as McGhee appeared to lose the receiver and Sanders was late getting over in coverage. The secondary was lucky; before those two TD catches, there was another well thrown deep ball to a receiver who had beaten the coverage but appeared to pull up and missed the reception.
- The bombs got everyone’s attention, but I really loved the play that resulted in Missouri’s first score, an option look with a shovel pass to the tight end.
- When Roquan Smith shows he’s human — he whiffed in pass coverage once — it’s gotten to the point where it’s shocking.
- I’m not so sure I’d call the Sanders interception the game’s turning point because with the way Georgia’s offense was going I never felt like the outcome was in jeopardy. Let’s just say it was more like watching serve being broken in a tennis match. Once Georgia got up by two scores, you pretty much knew the Tigers wouldn’t be able to overcome the gap.
- Pass rush was inconsistent at best. How much of that is due to personnel issues in the front seven with the injuries and suspension and how much of that is due to more ingrained issues is something to keep an eye on. Right now, I’d say it’s the biggest concern on defense (and, yes, I know that’s relative.)
- On the other hand, the defense continues to play lights out against the run.
- Special teams weren’t perfect again, damn it. Georgia didn’t get much at all out of its return game and flopped on the coverage of the opening kickoff. Of course, maybe they were just surprised by Blankenship whiffing the kick. That was really his only flaw of the night, though, as he responded from there with four field goals and touchback after touchback. Nizialek was only called on to punt once, but, man, was it a beauty.
- If there’s one puzzling thing — okay, call it a shortcoming — about game management this season, it’s how the last series of the first half continues to be directed. Georgia had all three timeouts at its disposal and two and a half minutes remaining when it got the ball back and proceeded to use more than half of the remaining time on its first series of three runs. What that meant was that when Michel ran the ball to the Missouri 23, there were only eight seconds remaining and Smart elected not to risk running out the clock with a play into the end zone. With better clock management, there would have been enough time left in that situation to have the option to play more aggressively. Yeah, in the overall scheme of things, that may be quibbling, but when the time comes that Georgia’s in a closer game, I hope that’s something that doesn’t come back to bite Kirby in the ass.
- On the other hand, the staff is flat-out killing it with halftime adjustments. The third quarter has belonged to Georgia all season; correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the defense has given up a third-quarter touchdown this year.
- When you direct the offense to Georgia’s second-best yardage total in history, you really don’t leave yourself open to much criticism. Chaney did another great job. He probed the Tigers’ defense and had no problem exploiting the openings that were provided. He gets the ball into the hands of his playmakers. He’s done a brilliant job managing Fromm’s strengths and weaknesses.
- I’m sure Tucker was livid about the deep coverage failures. It wasn’t a secret it was the best thing about Lock’s game and yet the first half saw receivers getting behind the safeties regularly. He did make some adjustments that were effective, as Mizzou barely gained over 100 yards in the second half. Still, the experience makes me a little nervous about what to expect against Auburn and Jarrett Stidham.
- As far as Smart goes, he faced a test to see how his team handled prosperity. Georgia was sloppy throughout. Three consecutive penalties on the offense when it was backed up inside its ten, one of which ruined a great run by Swift, indicated an issue with a lack of focus at times. But even with that, this team displayed the killer instinct that’s marked its run so far through the conference schedule. That’s what you’d expect from a team that’s loaded with talent but still feeling its way with how to maintain its consistency through the grind of a conference schedule. There are going to be those days and those opponents when it’s hard to bring your A game all day long. These guys fought through it for the most part, and that’s to their head coach’s credit.
So, here we are. Georgia is 7-0 and in complete control of its destiny. It’s overcome the preseason concerns about the offensive line and receiving corps. It’s thrived despite losing its starting quarterback to an injury in the opener. The schedule gets tougher with several rivalry games on the horizon. In other words, the real fun is about to begin.
By the way, I just wanted to say I enjoyed meeting every one of the GTP readers who stopped by the tailgate before the game. You guys are the best.