Eli Drinkwitz and his Missouri Tigers walked into Sanford Stadium ranked as the No. 12 team in the nation, according to the College Football Committee, and to their credit, they sure played like it. But alas, it wasn’t enough to dethrone the back-to-back national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs.
It’s not like everything went Georgia’s way yesterday, though. Game planning around a potential Biletnikoff level wide receiver in Luther Burden is a tough task. One that forced Georgia’s secondary to move some things around. It seems that the defensive coaching staff had Lassiter play in the slot specifically to counter Burden and his explosive ability. And he did quite a job.
Lassiter wasn’t lined up against Burden on every rep, but the two definitely had a duel. Other than a longer touchdown given up by Daylen Everette, Burden, who averages about one hundred yards a game against SEC opponents, was held to just FOURTEEN YARDS. That was a key move in Georgia’s victory yesterday.
Standout defensive back and recipient of the game’s victory-clinching interception, Javon Bullard, had this to say about Lassiter and his play in the slot – where Bullard primarily played last year:
“Coaches gameplan a lot. They like the matchups that they see, especially with Kamari and the things he was able to do in the slot… At the end of the day, he’s a Dawg. Kamari can guard anybody if you ask him to.”
But what Missouri couldn’t do through the air, they seemed to get on the ground. Brady Cook did a fair job extending drives with his legs. There were multiple third downs where the Georgia secondary was doing their job, but Cook would just end up finding a running lane straight up the middle.
The Tigers’ running back, Cody Schraeder, also caused some trouble in his own right. Georgia doesn’t like to allow runners to hit the 100-yard mark, and Schraeder definitely got there, putting up 112 yards on the night. Linebacker Smael Mondon credited his shorter stature and “low center of gravity” for being the reason why Schraeder was so hard to tackle.
Missouri’s running game was one of the biggest differences in this game and was why they stayed in it for as long as they did. The matchup was neck and neck until about midway through the fourth quarter when Mizzou found themselves down by nine. Of course, they looked to pass with time ticking away, but it was senior defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse who really changed things with an interception to stop that drive in its tracks. Everyone loves to see a big man make a big play. He said it was a “dream come true for a defensive lineman.”
And if that Stackhouse play didn’t seal the deal, on Missouri’s next final offensive drive, Tiger quarterback Brady Cook was pressured, overthrew a ball, and Javon Bullard came up with the actual game-sealing interception.
Overall, it was an impressive fourth quarter for the defense, facing off against an experienced quarterback with proven weapons, while the offense had what some may call an even-keeled kind of evening. The most important thing was that the Dawgs were able to find a way to win because they’ll need one once Ole Miss comes knocking on the door next week.