Maestro, give me something wistful and introspective:
I sense among Bulldog Nation a note of trepidation. And really, who could blame us? The events of last Saturday in Athens are bound to make anyone a little bit shy about making grand proclamations about this year's University of Georgia football team.
Having said that, Brooks is right. You must guard against getting either too high or too low. Especially headed into this stretch of the schedule. The next three weeks are the linchpin of the UGA schedule. Three games against three quality conference opponents. Coach Smart and crew could either find themselves sitting in the catbird seat in the SEC East by going 3-0 against Mizzou, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. They could also find themselves headed to Columbia to play the Gamecocks counting the wins necessary for bowl eligibility.
The odds are very good that last Saturday we witnessed the worst football that this team will play all season. Now, that doesn't mean that they're going to win every game from here on out. As GlimmerTwinDawg pointed out, there is ample reason to worry that Georgia is about to start 0-1 in the SEC.
If such a fate is to be avoided I think two things have to happen. One, the Georgia defense is going to have to disrupt Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. Last week against Eastern Michigan the sophomore had plenty of time to throw the ball and did just fine. Much of last season teams got pressure on him and things went poorly for the Tigers. It borders on cliché to say that getting pressure on the quarterback help you play better defense. The thing about clichés, however, is that they tend to have a kernel of truth.
The other requirement is going to be execution on offense, from the guys up front to the receivers on the outside. That includes Jacob Eason, who is going to have to be counted on to keep his emotions in check in a hostile road environment. I suspect we're about to find out a lot about the big freshman from the Pacific Northwest.
Bringing all of that back full circle, I think there's a good chance that Georgia plays significantly better than it did last week and that Missouri plays somewhat worse. How much those two trend lines move in relation to each other will decide how this one turns out. Personally, I have not a clue. Who thought a Georgia squad without Todd Gurley would throttle the Tigers in Columbia in 2014? Weird stuff happens, especially this early in the season.
Or, to look at it another way, things happen early in the season which seem weird but in hindsight turn out to have been pretty much par for the season’s course. My totally unofficial Dawg Sports prediction? UGA 27, Mizzou 24.
As usual, feel free to share your predictions and keys to the game in the comments below. Also feel free to use this as your digital hangout for the evening before game day. I understand there's some football going on tonight. You should watch it. And talk about it here.
Also, for fun, let's see who can best caption that Jacob Eason photo up top. Why not? You gotta do something for the next 26 hours. Until later....