After three proverbial walk in the parks in Georgia’s first three games, you knew the Bulldogs were going to get a stiffer challenge before long, and that’s exactly what transpired in Columbia, Mo. this past Saturday.
Not that it seemed the 2nd-ranked Bulldogs were ever in danger of losing to the host Missouri Tigers but things got rather uncomfortable at times as Georgia could never really pull away in a game marred by mistakes and penalties.
But win the SEC counter the Bulldogs did, to the tune of 43-29, and now they come home for consecutive conference matchups with Tennessee and Vanderbilt … before a big trip to Baton Rouge on Oct. 13.
These weekly Stats That Matter will readily show what went right, and wrong, for Georgia at Missouri’s Faurot Field.
Plays of 20 plus yards (offense/defense)
The Bulldogs’ first touchdown came when a Tiger receiver was stripped after a catch by freshman Tyson Campbell, who picked the ball up on a perfect bounce and raced 64 yards for the score. Also in the first half as Georgia moved to a 20-7 lead were a 23-yard interception return by Tae Crowder and a 24-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Elijah Holyfield. In the second half, though, was when the offensive fireworks really started for the Bulldogs as Fromm hit Riley Ridley on a 33-yard touchdown pass, connected with Jeremiah Holloman on a 61-yard TD bomb and then hooked up with Mecole Hardman on a 54-yard scoring pass. There was also a 28-yard Fromm-to-Ridley pass. Illustrating how the Georgia defense almost completely shut down the big plays by Tiger quarterback Drew Lock, Lock could only manage one pass completion over 20 yards, a 25-yarder.
Not a pretty area here for the Bulldogs in this game. There were a multitude of these, especially in the first half, as Fromm threw an interception on the Bulldogs’ first offensive series; freshman Brenton Cox was assessed a face-mask penalty although, fortunately, it came on offsetting penalties; Deandre Baker drew a personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds; offensive guard Solomon Kindley was whistled for unsportsman-like and holding infractions, receiver Tyler Simmons had consecutive false starts and linebacker Walter Grant was cited for defensive holding. In the second half, Jonathan Ledbetter was whistled for roughing the passer and freshman tackle Cade Mays, filling in for the injured Andrew Thomas, was assessed with a 15-yard unsportsman-like penalty. For the game, the Bulldogs had seven nagging penalties for a total of 66 yards.
Special teams wins vs. miscues
The big play on special teams came when redshirt freshman corner Eric Stokes blocked a second-quarter Missouri punt and scooped the ball up and scored from eight yards out. Rodrigo Blankenship booted field goals of 44, 21 and 40 yards but missed his first FG kick of the season on a 49-yard attempt and also had a 36-yard attempt blocked by the Tigers. Blankenship also saw his nation-leading streak of 23 consecutive touchbacks to start the season snapped when his opening kickoff, into the wind, failed to reach the end zone. Freshman punter Jake Camarda punted only twice, one going for 46 yards but the other sailing just 36 yards. Hardman returned three kickoffs for 91 yards and one punt for 23 yards.
At times, the Mizzou running game gouged Georgia’s defense inside the tackles, due to both missed tackles and arm tackles by the Bulldogs, as evident by the Tigers rushing for 172 yards Saturday.
The Bulldogs suffered no fumbles in this game while Fromm threw an interception on Georgia’s opening series. Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder picked off Drew Lock and the Bulldogs recovered two Missouri fumbles, Campbell going 64 yards to score with his recovery and Deandre Baker falling on the other Tiger miscue.
Red Zone (offense/defense)
The Bulldogs were two-of-three scoring inside the red zone but, unfortunately, both scores were field goals instead of touchdowns. Conversely, the Tigers cashed touchdowns on all four of their trips inside the Georgia 20.
Third down conversions
Both teams were awful here, Georgia converting first downs only three times in 12 opportunities and Missouri going 4-of-14 on third down tries. On fourth down, the Bulldogs were 0-for-1, not able to get a yard on 4th-and-1 at the Mizzou 31 when the Tigers stuffed Brian Herrien in the final moments of the first half. Georgia stopped the Tigers two out of three times when they went for it on fourth down.
Run/pass attempts (total plays)
Georgia ran the ball 40 times for 185 yards and Fromm hit 13-of-23 passes for 260 yards, giving the Bulldogs 445 total yards on 63 plays. Amazingly, the Tigers ran 22 more plays than Georgia … 85 for 393 total yards.