A battle-tested but battered Georgia team returns later today to the friendly confines between the hedges at Sanford Stadium to take on the 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers in their 1st visit to Athens. This game has all of the makings of a high-scoring affair as the two offenses will look to exchange blows against questionable defenses. Georgia has clearly been tested in early season with 3 games against top 10 opponents and a game on the road against a traditional rival. Missouri is unbeaten but to this point has not been pushed by any opponent with a road beating of Vanderbilt as the Tigers’ best win to date. Let’s get to the preview.
When Missouri Has the Ball
This Missouri offense looks like the high-octane attack we thought we would see in Columbia West last fall. This Missouri offense presents a set of challenges that our defense has struggled against this year with a mobile quarterback in James Franklin, a potent zone read running attack, and a set of receivers that can spread the field against our inexperienced secondary. This Missouri offense looks like the Clemson offense with less talent at the skilled positions. Our defense needs to find its groove especially against the zone read because the Missouri passing game becomes very efficient off zone read play action. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins will be seriously challenged to set the edge in the run game and to get after Franklin in the passing game. Our big plays on defense last year came off plays where we played disciplined football on the edge and made Franklin try to make plays on the run. If we can stop the Missouri running game, I like our chances to control the game by keeping the Tigers behind the chains. If we don’t win 1st and 2nd downs, we will be in for a long afternoon in Athens.
When Georgia Has the Ball
Mike Bobo has maybe his biggest challenge since taking over the play calling duties on Saturday. Does he try to shorten the game by trying to control the ball and the clock given the injuries in the skilled positions or does he decide to stay up tempo and ride Aaron Murray and the Georgia passing game? I think he needs to go with the “next man up” mentality and not change who we are and how we have been successful. Last week, we tried to shorten the game once the injuries started, and we allowed Tennessee to get back in the game. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas showed they could carry the mail last week in Knoxville, and we’ll need to get a similar type of game from the two of them especially if Todd Gurley can’t go tomorrow. I expect that we’re going to see a lot of Lynch and Rome in the game together with Conley and Wooten in the spread. If this Georgia offense can remain balanced and keep the Missouri defense on the field, I think that we’ll have a chance to take over the game in the 2nd half.
What Will Happen
With the noon kick-off, it’s going to be interesting to see if we come out ready to play from the opening whistle or if the crowd and the team sleepwalk early. The best chance for Missouri to get control of the game would be to force us to play from behind early and take the crowd out of the game. Missouri is going to score some points, but the game comes down to whether they can force turnovers or get something cheap out of special teams that lead directly to points. Even with the injuries, I believe that we’re still deeper and more talented across the board than Missouri, and I think that talent eventually takes over the game in the 3rd quarter. Dawgs win, but it’s not going to be easy.
Final Score: Georgia 42, Missouri 34