That’s only slightly less subtle than three consecutive throws to Washington.
Daily Archives: December 12, 2020
You don’t need to be in the arena to notice that.
So says the Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter.
… Using Pro Football Focus grades — hardly Gospel, but enlightening over a fairly broad eight-game body of work — Georgia is the superior team in every area.
Among SEC teams, Georgia’s offensive grade for the season ranks No. 3 (85.5), while Mizzou’s defense ranks No. 7 (66.2). Let’s stick with UGA’s offense. The Bulldogs’ passing game was stagnant early, much better lately but still just No. 8 in the SEC (73.9). UGA’s pass-blocking grade ranked No. 2 (74.1). Across the line of scrimmage, Mizzou ranks No. 9 in pass coverage (60.8) and No. 8 in pass rush (73.3). Again, advantage Georgia. The UGA running game ranks No. 3 (86.8) and its run-blocking grade ranks No. 2 (84.7); Mizzou’s rush defense comes in at No. 6 (60.3) as does its tackling grade (72.2).
Let’s flip to the other side of the ball. Mizzou’s offensive grade is No. 8 (77.5), while UGA’s defense is No. 1 (91.2). Mizzou’s passing game is No. 6 (77.7) while the pass blocking comes in at No. 4 (71.0). Georgia’s pass coverage is No. 2 (82.0), same as its pass rush (82.1). Finally, Mizzou’s running game grades at No. 11 (74.7) and run blocking at No. 7 (69.9). Georgia counters with the SEC’s top-graded rush defense (89.7) and top-graded tackling defense (92.8). Advantage, Georgia.
Common opponent data isn’t pretty, either.
Georgia and Missouri have played six common opponents: Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina. UGA is 4-2 against those teams and outscored those six by 91 points collectively; Mizzou is 3-3 against those teams and was outscored in those games by 47 points. Again, the body of work tells us Georgia has been the far better team this year.
So what does that leave Missouri with? Intangibles.
What is Georgia playing for at this point? The Bulldogs began the season expecting to make the College Football Playoff. Not only is that dream dashed but Georgia didn’t win the SEC East. No playoffs, no SEC championship, no division title. UGA’s best-case scenario is an 8-2 finish and a spot in one of the selection committee’s New Year’s Six games, like the Cotton, the Peach or the Orange. That’s a fine reward but not what Georgia sets out to accomplish each season. The Bulldogs have six players invited to the Senior Bowl. The NFL draft is just a few months away. Another three players are in the transfer portal. With no championship stakes on the line Saturday, will their hearts and eyes be wandering to what comes next instead of the here and now?
On the flip side, Mizzou is playing like something’s on the line. The Tigers are nationally ranked in one major poll — No. 25 in the College Football Playoff rankings — and can clinch a winning record in their first ever 10-game SEC regular season. Mizzou would enhance its bowl appeal with a 7-3 finish — the New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl would be realistic — and engender serious goodwill with a hungry fan base and build more momentum toward 2021. Can all of those factors affect how this team plays on the field and give the Tigers a psychological edge? Perhaps.
One more factor: the weather. The forecast for the 11 a.m. kickoff calls for 39 degrees, cloudy, 20-percent chance of rain, 13 mph winds. In Missouri we call that seasonable weather — but not necessarily ideal for the Bulldogs from Georgia.
That’s not nothing, granted — you don’t have to cast your memories very far back to remember a listless Georgia team losing a meaningless Sugar Bowl game to Texas — but it’s not that much, either. (For one thing, electing to play in the Senior Bowl isn’t nearly the same thing as electing to skip said meaningless bowl game in favor of the NFL draft.)
I think Georgia shows up today. I think Missouri does, too. I like the Dawgs to cover the thirteen and a half points, but not by much, for what that’s worth.
Consider this your game day thread and have at it in the comments.
Today’s smorgasbord of games:
Who ‘ya got?
Hell, I’m just hoping Vandy takes the field today.
I mentioned yesterday that both Georgia and Missouri are among the conference leaders in defending big plays.
It turns out they’re both among the conference leaders in generating big plays, too.
All of this is reinforcing something I started thinking yesterday — Missouri’s tempo game is going to be a key factor today. If the Tigers can run the 75-80 plays they’ve been averaging of late, it’s going to keep the game in play for them.
So, which do you think will have the bigger impact on today’s game? A new center…
Warren Ericson stepped in as a starter last season in the Sugar Bowl when Georgia had a pair of offensive line starters shut it down to prepare for the NFL draft.
Now, the redshirt sophomore appears to be poised to start for an injured Trey Hill at center against Missouri.
“It’s kind of like my mentality has been every single week since the season has started,” said Ericson, who also plays guard. “Whatever I can do just to be ready for this game and to play, that’s what I want to do and I’m going to do be ready whether my name is called or not.”
Hill had started 26 straight games, but sustained a meniscus injury last week in practice and underwent surgery. He needed a repair on the other meniscus so both knees were “cleaned up,” said Smart who is helpful that Hill will play again this season.
“When your center’s out, that can affect your communication and calls,” Drinkwitz said.
… or the return of an old nose guard?
Perhaps the only silver lining about having games with Missouri and Vanderbilt postponed two of the last four weeks is that it gave Georgia more time to have some key players recover from injuries.
Nose guard Jordan Davis hasn’t played since sustaining an elbow injury against Kentucky on Oct. 24 but could return.
“It’s great to have him back in the middle of our defense,” Dean said.
“Jordan’s looked good,” Smart said. “What Jordan’s done a really good job of is being in conditioning shape. So he’s practiced really hard and looked good.”
Let’s hope it’s the latter.
We’ve all taken shots at Barrett Sallee this season, but, how many of you disagree with this take?
Daniels can set the tone for what to expect from next year’s Bulldogs, who should be one of the top contenders for a College Football Playoff berth in 2021. The world didn’t get to see what offensive coordinator Todd Monken is capable of since Jamie Newman opted out before the season and Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis were ineffective under center. Now you see it. Daniels is averaging 10 yards per passing attempt. That’s a far cry from the 7.6 and 3.0 yards per attempt that Bennett and Mathis were averaging, respectively. The success under Daniels has helped the Bulldogs average 6.7 yards per play against Mississippi State and 7.6 yards per play against South Carolina — their top two performances of the season.
The core of this team should be back next season, especially since the NCAA approved the blanket waiver that gives everybody a free year of eligibility this season. Zamir White, James Cook, Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh will comprise one of the most dangerous backfields in the country, sophomore wide receiver George Pickens will be back for his third season and the entire offense will be more comfortable with the new-look approach even if COVID-19 creates disruptions after the season.
Georgia will be fine. This wasn’t a rebuilding year — this was a retooling year.
Imagine how hard up you have to be about the state of your football program to take active steps promoting this possibility:
Just win, baby, to the nth degree.