POOLE SHOTS – STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia 9 – Missouri 6

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POOLE SHOTS – STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia 9 – Missouri 6

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No 84 Leonard Floyd, No 78 Trenton Thompson, and No 9 Reggie Wilkerson (Photo by Greg Poole / Bulldawg Illustrated)
No 84 Leonard Floyd, No 78 Trenton Thompson, and No 9 Reggie Wilkerson
(Photo by Greg Poole / Bulldawg Illustrated)
[su_spacer size=”40″] On a crisp fall night when both the Georgia and Missouri offenses were MIA − missing in action − it took a splendid performance by the Bulldogs’ defense and three field goals by Marshall Morgan to lift Georgia to a much-needed 9-6 win over the Tigers at Sanford Stadium.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Saturday’s down-to-the-wire victory, clinched when Morgan drilled a 34-yard field goal with just 1:44 remaining, was hardly a thing of beauty but it achieved its purpose … mainly keeping the Bulldogs (5-2, 3-2 SEC) in the thick of the Eastern Division race with the Florida Gators on tap Halloween day in Jacksonville following the Oct. 24 open date.
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Despite the Bulldogs snapping their two-week losing string and celebrating the win over the now 4-3, 1-3 Tigers, there was much gnashing of teeth over Georgia’s poor offensive performance, which failed to produce a single touchdown … the first time since 1995 (vs. Kentucky) that the Bulldogs have won without crossing the goal line. No question, unless Brian Schottenheimer’s unit, which has now scored a measly three total touchdowns over the last three outings against Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri, finds a way to ratchet its play up several levels on Oct. 31, it will be a long afternoon at EverBank Field against the 13th-ranked Gators. Good as Jeremy Pruett’s Georgia defense played in limiting Missouri’s struggling offense to two field goals and 164 total yards, the Bulldogs can’t expect to beat Florida with defense alone.
[su_spacer size=”40″] As one can readily see by these weekly Stats That Matter, there were a number of good things Georgia did − again, mostly on the defensive side of the ball − but also a lot of things the Bulldogs have to clean up if they expect to gain the inside track on the SEC East title, when they confront the once-beaten Gators on the banks of the St. Johns River.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Plays of 20 plus yards (offense/defense)
[su_spacer size=”40″] Big plays for the Georgia offense? … There was only one for more than 20 yards, Greyson Lambert’s 35-yard pass to freshman Terry Godwin in the second quarter. The Bulldogs’ longest run from scrimmage all night? A 12-yard gain by Keith Marshall. Meantime, the Georgia defense allowed three 20-plus yard plays by Missouri, pass completions of 33, 24 and 29 by quarterback Drew Lock.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Untimely mistakes (turnovers, penalties, clock management miscues, etc)
[su_spacer size=”40″] Here we go. On Georgia’s very first offensive play of the game, Lambert’s tipped pass was intercepted by the Tigers’ Ian Simon and returned 39 yards to the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line. Fortunately, the Bulldogs’ defense fashioned a sterling goal line stand and limited Missouri to a field goal. Sophomore safety Dominick Sanders was ejected from the game in the third quarter when he was whistled for targeting on a hit on the Tigers’ sideline, when Georgia had the Tigers backed up on their own 8-yard line. On a third-and-one situation for Georgia, senior tackle John Theus was called for a false start; later, Theus was whistled for holding with the Bulldogs then at the Missouri 43. “It was a great win for us but a bad game for me with those two penalties,” Theus said. On a third-and-goal at the Tigers’ 7, Lambert apparently threw a second interception but fortunately, the call on the field was overturned upon review. And, finally, Georgia had to burn a costly timeout in the final quarter when the play clock ticked down to one second.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Special teams wins vs. miscues
[su_spacer size=”40″] The biggest special teams wins were certainly the field goals from 29, 24 and 34 yards that Morgan kicked to provide the Bulldogs’ only points of the game. The winning 34-yarder atoned for Morgan’s miss from 26-yards with 5:40 to play and the game still tied at 6-6. For his showing, Morgan was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, that coming on the heels of the same honor accorded Reggie Davis for his play in the Tennessee loss. Georgia was also excellent this night on punt and kickoff coverage and Godwin had a fine performance by returning three Missouri kicks for 49 yards with a long return of 19 yards. Davis also brought back a Tiger kickoff for 28 yards. Among the special teams miscues was a failed onside kick in the second quarter when Morgan’s kick didn’t go the necessary 10 yards. Again, though, the UGA defense came to the rescue by again stoning Missouri at the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Missed Tackles
[su_spacer size=”40″] As reflected in the final statistics which showed the Tigers with a measly 21 yards net rushing, the Georgia defense was gang tackling all evening, bringing down the Missouri running backs on first hit.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Yards after contact
[su_spacer size=”40″] Against the rugged Missouri defensive front, rushing yards were hard to come by as Georgia’s O-linemen had trouble creating space for the Bulldog backs. Still, with his ability to pull away from the first would-be tackler, sophomore tailback Sony Michel was able to notch key first downs and finish the game with 87 yards on 26 carries.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Turnovers (gained/lost)
[su_spacer size=”40″] Lambert had the early interception but that was Georgia’s lone turnover as the Bulldogs protected the ball well. The Tigers fumbled twice and lost one of them, when Malcolm Mitchell slapped the ball loose from the Missouri punt returner and Malkom Parrish recovered for Georgia at the Tigers’ 43. That led to Morgan’s second field goal which tied the game at 6-all.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Red Zone (offense/defense)
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Bulldogs got their three field goals on three of five excursions inside the Tiger 20 while Missouri reached the red zone three times and notched their two field goals from there.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Third down conversions
[su_spacer size=”40″] Finally, some success in this area for the Georgia offense. It gained first downs on 9-of-19 third down chances, for a season-best 47 percent showing. Conversely, the Dogs’ defense allowed the Tigers to convert only two times in 13 opportunities.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Run/pass attempts (total plays)
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Bulldogs ran the ball 45 times for 120 yards rushing and Lambert completed 23-of-32 passes, mostly of the short variety, for 178 yards. And for one of the few times this season, Georgia dominated time of possession, keeping the ball 38:55 minutes compared to Mizzou’s 21:05 time. Still, even with that, no touchdowns for the offense.
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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.