Missouri has multiple weapons when it comes to its offense. With a new offensive coordinator that has made the offense more balanced, the Bulldogs will have to stay honest and be ready for anything. Head coach Kirby Smart said it’ll be a chess match for his defense to figure out what this Tiger offense might do.
One of Georgia’s challenge this week was to prepare for receivers that range in height from 6-3 to 6-7. With targets of that stature and talent, some think why not line up four corners and cover them that way. However, Smart doesn’t think it’s that simple because of the obvious mismatches and how physical Missouri is during games.
“This team is big who we’re playing. They are huge on the offensive front, including their tight ends. They have much better backs than they’ve had in the past. They are a more physical team,” Smart states. “So to put four corners out there, they have a 6’5 and a 6’6, 265-pound tight end, I don’t think those corners are going to match up real well with those tight ends when it comes to them being able to be multiple in their formations. So they do a good job of keeping you honest in that regard.”
Missouri’s offense continues to evolve since new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley took over the duties. Dooley is in his first year as the Tigers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Smart mentioned that he’s implementing the run game almost as much as the strong air attack. Georgia’s head coach thinks that he’s developed so many elements on the offense that it’s tough for defenses to cover.
“I think Derek (Dooley) has brought some good changes for them. The physicality, I think, is what Barry’s (Odom) intent was in getting Derek devoted to running the ball, which they did at the Cowboys and Derek’s been throughout his career,” Smart notes about Dooley. “The commitment to that, to running the ball, even though you have a potential high-round draft pick at quarterback, they still have a commitment to running the ball and being physical. I think that’s important in this league. And they’ve made that. That’s the biggest change that I’ve seen, but they’ve kept a lot of the elements that are tough to defend in this offense. So he’s done a good job of that.”
Smart continues onto say that Dooley’s offense is similar of the one Georgia saw last year, but there are differences as well. With the changes and options out there, the Bulldogs had to look at last year’s offense as well as this years to make sure they know what the Tigers may do.
“You look at everything, and you kind of put it in a compartment and say, okay, what can they pull from. So yeah, we look at last year. They have some similarities to their offense last year, and they’ve also got some differences,” Smart said. “They’ve got some differences in their run game, and they’ll have different things. Every offense has different things for each game. So they’ll have some new wrinkles, and they’ve got a good team. So we’ll have to go out and play well.”
This offense will be Georgia’s first real challenge of the season as the Tigers average 44 points a game, 200 yards on the ground and 389 yards in the air. Smart states that despite what the Bulldogs saw in the past, they aren’t sure what they might do. He states that it’ll become a chess match.
“I don’t know how that’s going to work out because I don’t know exactly what they’re going to do. So it’ll be a little bit of a chess match when it comes to what will they do. I’m certainly not going to show our hand to what we’re going to do,” Smart explains. “We have to wait and see what they do with their wide-out, who’s an exceptional player, seen last year by everybody.”
That wide-out is Emanuel Hall. He has 18 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Hall is one of, senior quarterback, Drew Lock’s favorite targets. Smart mentions that he will be tough to cover and it’s not as easy as just putting Deandre Baker on him all game.
“I mean he lit up the stadium, and he has lit it up this season,” Smart says. “Nobody’s really been able to keep up with him. So we’ll have to see how they play with him and see what we do. We have the ability to do a lot of things with our guys. Everybody would just say, well, just put Deandre (Baker) on him. Let him shadow him. Well, it’s not that easy, because the ball could be on this hash, that hash, fastball. They go quick; they have a lot of tempo. It’s not that easy.”
J.R. Reed and company will have a tough test on Saturday. However, he states how the Bulldogs can get out of Columbia with a win and stop that high powered offense.
“Those guys are very speedy on the outside. They can run past anybody,” Reed said. “We’ve got to play with good technique and stay over the top and not allow a lot of big plays. We’ve got to not give up those explosive plays this whole game, no matter who it is.”