The weirdest part of a weird game? The disparity of performance between Georgia players — there were some absolutely brilliant games played by kids like Ridley, Walker, Baker and Stokes and there were some who were flat out busts. Overall, I thought the team brought its C-game to Columbia, but for once the average doesn’t really tell the entire story.
On to the bullet points:
- Allow me to take the contrarian position on the Okwuegbunam fumble. After seeing one of the broadcast replays, I don’t think his forward progress was stopped. He appeared to be twisting his body to turn inside when the ball was ripped free. Regardless, after all the plays we’ve seen over the years where SEC refs let a play continue for what seems an eternity, this strikes me as a strange hill to die on for Mizzou folks.
- One thing I didn’t expect was to see the cornerbacks outplay the safeties. Reed and LeCounte took me back to the last year of Grantham’s defense. Both were frequently out of position and LeCounte’s tackling, in particular, was abominable all day. Watch the way he olé-d his way through the Lock touchdown run. I know folks are bummed out about the defensive line’s run play, but this, to me, is the biggest thing Kirby has to clean up.
- It didn’t help that the safeties had to make a lot of tackles.
- Eric Stokes had his coming out party: four tackles, three passes broken up and a blocked punt he also returned for a touchdown. He’s going to be taking playing time away from somebody.
- For all the complaining we could do about Georgia’s pass defense, the worse thing you could really say about it is that Missouri completed a lot of dinks and dunks. That’s not the way anyone thought the Tigers could win the game and they were right. Lock got nothing deep and didn’t hit half his pass attempts. In my book, that’s a damned good day.
- The bad part of that, if you will, is that Georgia let enough of those short passes connect, along with a run game that, while, again, was not something that broke many big plays (nothing over 20 yards on the day), did allow too many drives in the second half to be sustained. Bending and breaking is not what Georgia is supposed to be doing. I saw a front seven that appeared to relax a bit once Georgia’s offense got its footing and paid the price for that.
- Which means that focus for sixty minutes is the other big thing the coaches have to work on this week. This team is a bit too much in love with itself for comfort.
- Interior run defense was hit and miss, as the safety tackle totals indicated. There were plenty of times when Missouri backs were stopped for little gain, but there were plenty of times when the Tigers’ offensive line got more push than expected. The ILBs were inconsistent, too. More things needing clean-up, I suppose.
- D’Andre Walker may not be forty, but he’s a man — four tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. If he’s not the SEC defensive player of the week, I’ll be interested to see who is. Does Georgia win if he just had an average game? Probably, but it would have been a helluva lot closer.
- Perhaps the most overlooked story of Georgia’s season to date is the improvement in the receiving corps. They don’t get a lot of opportunities, but they sure make the most of it when they do. Ridley, as I mentioned, had a spectacular day. Holloman, goal line brain fart aside, is really starting to come on and made a brilliant catch. Mecole is Mecole; you hold your breath every time he touches the ball. They’re doing all this and Terry Godwin is still recovering from an injury. They block, too!
- Speaking of recovering, it looks like Swift isn’t quite back to full speed, although 80% Swift is still worth giving the ball to.
- Holyfield never finishes a run without lowering his shoulder. Beast, baby.
- Did the Dawgs run a jet sweep?
- Georgia outgained Missouri with about 450 yards of offense, so you don’t want to say the offensive line had a bad day. But it was an inconsistent one, at least with regard to the run game. At times, Georgia would get rolling on the ground, but there were times when they needed a short gain and the line either got out-muscled or out-schemed. There is no excuse for starting a drive on the other team’s seven-yard line and settling for a field goal.
- Which reminds me, fellas — you put Justin Fields in at quarterback for the first time in that setting and you’re dreaming if you don’t think everyone in the stadium is expecting a quarterback run.
- I’ve already mentioned noticing Fromm’s habit of taking a while to get himself up to game speed. I hope that gets fixed, because once he’s on, whoa, baby. Two things that stood out to me as I watched were (1) his completion to Holyfield, which came after he ran through all his reads as the play developed and (2) the touchdown passes to Ridley and Holloman. Jake ain’t perfect, but there isn’t a quarterback in the country that can make that sideline throw downfield better than he can.
- I know it’s a popular thing to blame Chaney for having an off day with his playcalling, but I’m gonna tell you I think that’s more on Chaney’s boss. Kirby is nothing if he’s not consistent about insisting his team impose its will on the opponent. The problem with that approach on Saturday is that Purdue showed the week before that Missouri’s defense was vulnerable to the deep ball, not the run. Waiting a half before exploiting that weakness probably wasn’t the best tack to take, but I do understand why it happened. And it did work out in the end.
- Special teams was a mixed bag, but it didn’t follow the script we saw before Missouri. Blankenship was mortal. He had two kicks returned, both past the 30-yard line, pulled a field goal attempt and had another blocked. Camarda had one mediocre punt that contributed to the field position advantage that Missouri enjoyed most of the day. On the plus side, Hardman has another boss return day. (Crumpton is going to see less time on punt returns unless he starts fielding and fair catching punts instead of letting them hit and roll, though.) Did I mention Eric Stokes’ big day?
- If one of your complaints about Richt was not showing enough emotion on the sideline, then, brother, Kirby Smart is your guy. He’s got some range, that’s for sure. Too bad he had as much source material as he did for that.
The best way I can describe Georgia’s day is that while the bodies all got off the bus, clearly some players’ heads never did. That the team managed to survive and advance against a conference opponent on the road — and really, survive is an unfair way to describe a game that Georgia never trailed in and had Missouri in a two-score or more deficit from the middle of the second quarter through game’s end — is never anything to sneer at.
This is an immensely talented team. It’s also a very young team. That means there are going to be bumps in the road, at least in the short run, although a lot of that will be covered over by talent advantage. It’s up to Kirby to keep that run as short as possible, because the time will come when the talent advantage won’t be enough by itself.