We were all astronomers last night, witnessing the birth of a star right before our very eyes as the game, and perhaps season, was on the line.
First things first: Giving credit where credit is due.
1. I want to acknowledge Missouri’s game-plan before I type one more dangling participle. They took the opening kickoff and executed every single scripted play to perfection and went up 7 - zip in a blistering 5 play drive that barely ate up clock. The Dawg “D” was on their heels early and often, and Drew Lock was shredding his way to over 300 first-half passing yards. Defensively, they had a simple plan: Just look at last week’s tape of the Nicholls game, stack the box, take away the run and dare the freshman to beat you. Most of their plan worked all night. Except when it didn’t.
2. Charles Harris tallied 3 sacks and 4 TFL. The guy is disruptive and reminds me of David Pollack with his motor and quicks. (Oh, and 247Sports listed him as a 2-Star coming out of high school.) He’s a junior. Please go pro, good sir.
3. This annual meeting could turn into quite the rivalry. Terrific. Just what we need.
So, I guess we’re a “pass first” team now?
4. We simply could not run the ball for the second week in a row, netting 101 yards rushing (Chubb 19/63 yds; Michel 9/37; McKenzie 2/19. One McKenzie touchdown run). This is not sustainable, you know. With Ole Miss looming expect to see more of the same defense.
5. The issues at receiver continues with Michael Chigbu still making way too many drops and even the great McKenzie dropping a sure-fire touchdown on a perfectly placed Jacob Eason throw. Terry Godwin had 4 catches for 68 yards. We certainly got a few breaks on some pass interference calls, especially on the final game-winning drive, but right now we don’t have much of a consistent deep threat, or at least perimeter guys.
6. The tight ends did get more involved last night with Jeb Blazevich being targeted the most. However, these guys are effectively being neutralized in the offensive scheme because they had to help block Mizzou’s rush ends all night. Frustrating.
7. Our offensive line is what it is. They do not lack for effort. They simply lack size. I will say this: They stepped on the last drive when the chips were down and gave Eason enough time to do what he did.
7B. We need to design more screens or passes in the flat to Chubb, Michel & Co. Christian Payne had himself another great game. And I thought Kirby didn’t like fullbacks. Necessity is the mother of invention. Keep inventing ways to get the ball to #47 when opportunity knocks. He’s dependable.
8. I guess directional kicking is a thing again, although it worked better than the standard “try and kick it deep” ball. I still hate it. Rodrigo Blankenship - unlike Mizzou’s cannon-legged kicker - could not consistently kick it deep last night. We got burned again on at least one return that gave Drew Lock a short field. Also, we’ve played 3 games and have had 3 horrible receiver interference calls in each one. Kirby Choates near decapitation of a Mizzou punt receiver is inexcusable. I mean, what the hell? Absolutely no situational awareness.
8a. Anyone in the student body got any experience kicking field goals? Yeah, it’s that bad. William Ham’s mechanics are in Ford Pinto territory right about now. That ain’t good. He did convert on his game-winning PAT. For the life of me I don’t know why Barry Odom didn’t freeze him on that. I would have.
9. It’s hard to be critical of a secondary that picked off Drew Lock 3 times. Quincey Mauger’s 2nd interception of the game was probably a game-saver as it possibly negated points - which would have won the game for the Tigers. Juwan Briscoe’s pick was probably Lock’s worst pass of the night, forcing a ball on the Georgia sideline when there were two defenders in the area. Mizzou’s out patterns and, particularly, quick slants gave us fits. J’Mon Moore had 8 receptions for 196 yards a 2 touchdowns. His last catch of the day could have had touchdown written all over it, but he was stripped by a heads-up Dominick Sanders. We were lucky right there folks.
9a. Where’s our pass rush? No sacks, right? I realize lock doesn’t sit in the pocket and it’s tough to register sacks on a quick-release QB, but someone help me here.
10. Still, this was Jacob Eason’s night with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor going to Isaiah McKenzie. Let’s just watch this again, shall we?
11. Jacob Eason was not perfect. He missed on more than one deep balls where his intended target was underthrown - I counted a couple at least to Reggie Davis - where the ball just fluttered. His interception was the prototypical freshman mistake: Blinders on when locking onto the primary receiver and not seeing a corner slide over. That being said, you can’t teach poise. In the face of a ferocious pass rush all night long, Eason kept his cool and converted when it mattered. He’s our quarterback the rest of the way, barring injury.
12. His stat line: 29/55, 308 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception for a QBR of 114.1. These are simply numbers. There is no quantifiable stat or number for “clutch,” or “poise,” or “courage.” Watching his ascension will be a lot of fun. Maybe the kid plays better when coming from behind. Hey, some do.
13. I had no problem with Jim Chaney’s play calling last night. We left some points on the table by simply not executing, but the game winner was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
13a. Just get the ball to your playmakers. Preferably in space.
13b. Have you seen this? Guy ended up getting stitches, but is going to be okay.
Everyone please look at what I have to deal with on a daily basis.— Jeff Moore (@jeffrey_moore7) September 18, 2016
Go dawgs? pic.twitter.com/lj9CXKO3Nr
Man is there going to be some property destroyed tonight...
14. I am damned proud of this team. I didn’t give up on our last drive. I actually had resigned myself to defeat earlier, but I just felt we were going to at least get it close. Somewhere up there in the Great Beyond, Larry Munson lit up a big ol’ fat Churchill last night.
15. We’ve got a lot of issues. We also have a very bright future. We aren’t winning any National Championships this season. We might not win the East. But, we have a foundation and recruiting is off the charts at the moment.
Kirby Smart needs the same patience afforded to Mark Richt in his first season. A lot of negativity - even in victory - still exists. This team has warts. There are also some deeply planted seeds that will bear some sweet fruit now and in the not too distant future. It will be fun to watch. Just temper your expectations. On the other hand...Jacob Eason!