The Bulldogs continue to have their struggles but they continue to find a way to grind out wins and in the end, that’s what matters most. This game did not have many positives but the Bulldogs found something that they have not had in the past few years and that is a quarterback that they can trust with the game on the line. This team as a whole has a ton of work to do, but Jacob Eason showed a ton of promise and potential to be an outstanding quarterback.
JACOB EASON: Eason showed poise throughout the game and man-aged the team very well in a hostile SEC environment. Eason finished the day 29 for 55 with 308 yards passing and had three touchdowns and one interception. Eason did have his share of overthrows and under-throws but his ability to find open receivers and make clutch throws on third and fourth down made up for his mistakes. The Bulldogs running game was dormant for most of the game, but Eason stepped up and made the big throws when they were needed of him, including a game-winning touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie on fourth down. Eason still has to improve his game but he will be a dynamic player to watch for the Bulldogs as the season progresses.
TURNOVERS: The Bulldogs defense caused a lot of turnovers with three interceptions and two fumbles and some came at very critical times of the game. Safety Quincy Mauger had two key interceptions and his second one prevented Missouri from kicking a field goal and potentially putting the game out of reach with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Juwuan Briscoe also had an interception along with his two fumble recoveries.
Briscoe’s late fumble recovery was huge in that it sealed the victory for the Bulldogs. Winning the turnover battle is always crucial and it was a huge key to victory for the Bulldogs.
ISAIAH MCKENZIE AND CHRISTIAN PAYNE: These two players came up with huge plays for the Bulldogs throughout the course of the game. McKenzie finished his day with 10 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, which included the game winner. McKenzie was the Bulldogs most dynamic playmaker and Eason relied on him throughout to come up with crucial catches and he delivered on most occasions. Christian Payne also had a big day in the receiving game as he totaled up 41 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Payne has always excelled as a blocker for the Bulldogs but the team stuck to the passing game more in this game. Payne was able to get involved here as well with crucial third down catches that kept a few drives alive.
DROPPED PASSES: The Bulldogs seemed to have gotten past this but in the later portions of the game, the drops became more apparent. Michael Chigbu and Reggie Davis both had crucial drops in the second half that could have helped keep drives alive. Isaiah McKenzie also had a huge drop in the end zone that would have put the Bulldogs ahead earlier in the game instead of having the game come down to their final drive.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The offensive line woes continued for the Bulldogs in their game against the Missouri Tigers. The lack of push was still there and they struggled mightily to open up holes for the running backs. Chubb finished the day with only 63 yards on 19 carries because he did not have many running lanes throughout the game. The offensive line has a lot of work to do this week, in hopes of helping the offense have a more balanced attack between passing and running the ball against a tough SEC foe in Ole Miss next week.
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: The Bulldogs winning the turnover battle was most definitely a huge positive in my eyes but what the Bulldogs did with the ball on offense after a turnover was abysmal. The Bulldogs forced five turnovers in the game but were unable to capitalize on the turnovers. They finished the day with zero points off of turnovers because they often got in range to score, but just could not get the ball in the end zone or through the uprights.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Special Teams took a step back this week in my opinion. For starters, kicker William Ham missed both of his crucial field goals, which were 23 and 38 yards respectively. The Bulldogs also struggled in kick return coverage, where they gave up a 36-yard return to Johnathon Johnson. Rodrigo Blankenship also struggled in kicking the ball off and was not able to force a single touchback in this game.
The Bulldogs also had a penalty for the third week in a row for fair catch or kick catch interference, when Kirby Choates tackled Johnson before he was able to catch the punt. Choates was also ejected for the hit and will miss the first half of the next game. The special teams are another group that needs to make some huge improvement, quick.