As a Georgia bulldog fan it is a little hard to know how to look at the world on a day when everything went so unexpectedly right. Georgia pitched it's first road shut out of a top 25 ranked team in school history. They shut out the Missouri Tigers, who had not been blanked since 2002. When you win the turnover battle 5/0 you ought to win the football game, and win it decisively. In fact Georgia is 32–2 under Mark Richt in games in which they do not turn the ball over once. So all the numbers check out.
That all sounds well and good in the abstract, I just don't know how to react to seeing the Georgia Bulldogs with a 5/0 turnover ratio. It felt a little like seeing my neighbor's schnauzer sit down at the piano and play Debussy's Arabesque #1 with a set of garden spades in his paws. It was shocking, almost exhilarating, I just don't understand how in the heck it happened.
Hutson Mason had the most Hutson Masony of games, posting a 22/28 passing ledger with 156 yards, tossing only one touchdown, but also running one in himself. Nick Chubb, the newfound hound from Cedartown, was of course the star of the Bulldog game plan. Mike Bobo found ways to get him the ball early and often. Chubbs 38 carries for 143 yards were perhaps more than any of us could have reasonably expected, but exactly what the doctor ordered. It was not precisely a Todd Gurley performance, but assuming that the other parts of the offense have a reasonably competent day, it is enough to beat even a decent football team like the Missouri Tigers. Perhaps the stat of the day was that Chubb had 42 offensive touches while the entire Missouri Tiger squad managed only 43.
The ground and pound plan devised by Bobo worked, limiting Missouri to a sickly 17:37 time of possession for the entire game. The Mazzu offense never looked in sync, and Maty Mauk looked frustrated for most of the afternoon. As Vineyarddawg could be heard to remark after yet another Mauk interception, perhaps Maty Mauk is just Midwestern for Reggie Ball.
The special teams also got in on the act. In addition to Marshall Morgan's two field goals, the kickoff unit also performed exceptionally. Tiger return specialist Marcus Murphy had been averaging in excess of 31 yards per return on the season. On this afternoon the Tigers started outside of their own 25 only once, and that came on a pooch kick which landed outside the 30 and ended with them starting on the 39.
I do not envy my fellow SEC Power Poll voters, who will be left with the task of figuring out where to slot this Georgia team in the coming days. Because a Georgia team without Todd Gurley is not supposed to beat Missouri 34–0. For the record, I do not expect Arkansas to turn it over five times next week, and I am not sure how well today's game plan works without that gargantuan turnover margin.
Speaking of which, while Georgia now holds the tiebreaker over Missouri in the SEC East things are far from over. With a big, physical Arkansas team on the slate next week, the always dangerous trip to Jacksonville, and an Auburn team that looks about as good as they ever have, there's a lot standing between these 'Dawgs and Atlanta. But this was a first step. I won't dare say that Georgia is better without Todd Gurley, but I will say based on today that Georgia is not going to roll over and die without Todd Gurley. And that is saying something. Until later...