Here is what I’m NOT worried about come Saturday’s
midday morning kickoff:
1) 8 the easy way. The Missouri Tigers rushing defense is currently ranked 8th in the nation, giving up just under 75 yards per game. But the rushing offenses they’ve faced are Wyoming (ranked 85th), Purdue (#56), and an FCS team (UT Martin) ranked 83rd in rushing in FCS. Plus those teams got behind early an were airing it out more than busting through B gaps.
At 272 yards a game, the Bulldogs are ranked 13th nationally running the ball. Admittedly this was also weak competition, but there is no way you can convince me that Missouri has in any way seen anything like the tonnage that Sam Pittman will be putting forth on Faurot Field. I expect more of the same – maybe slightly less depending on the game scoring, but still making hay.
2) Lost Dawg. As in missing the Wild Dawg as part of the UGA offensive scheme. To my knowledge, we haven’t used that play all season. And while a lot of us were not fans of the 2016 version (and it’s lack of success), last season Jim Chaney pulled it out with brilliant timing. I believe we scored 3 times in the Playoffs with that call (possibly including the SECCG).
Why no Wild Dawg? It is possibly because we don’t have anyone with a passable passing threat to take that snap (i.e. Terry Godwin still on the bench). Possibly because the jet sweep has been so effective (at least 2 TDs so far in 2018, and I don’t think it was used in the South Carolina game). Possibly because we haven’t needed to mix up the looks and scheme in our second halves to date. Or possibly because we’re saving it for the Grass Formerly Chewed by Les Miles ™. I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure not worried.
3) Third Down for What? Exactly. The Tigers of CoMo are quite competent at sustaining drives, ranking 16 nationally at converting 3rd downs. The Bulldogs of Athens sit all the way down at 51st in 3rd down defense, 9th in the SEC. Surely this is a worrying point?
In this blogger’s view, at least not yet. You see, I think Missouri hasn’t faced great defenses so converting a high percentage of 3rd downs is nice, but not something to hang your hat on. And you probably didn’t have to do it all that much, so the numbers are skewed positively.
Plus, the Georgia defense is first in the SEC at First down defense. It lends one to believe that Georgia is forcing many more third downs by being so good at stuffing early down chances. And at some point, you’re not going to stop all the third downs. Giving up only 8 points per game, the ‘Dawgs are stopping the key 3rd downs. And that has made all the difference.
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch on AM radio, so here’s what I am worried about this Saturday in the Good Columbia:
1) Drew Lock. Is this obvious? Yes. But what else is going to be your number one worry when seeing the 6’4” 225 lb. gunslinger get behind center? The guy is all he’s cracked up to be, initially highly recruited out of high school and now likely highly drafted by the NFL in a few months. He’s also in 6th place for passing touchdowns in SEC history. Is that because he faces Kansas every year? You’d think so, but no.
He’s chucking it for over 380 yards per game, 4th best in the early season, and throwing it almost twice as often as the Bulldogs have. Gaining 9.5 yards every time it’s thrown, and over 14 yards every time it’s caught ain’t bad either. Georgia is only surrendering 158 passing yards a game, against teams who were behind from the get-go. Gamecock signal caller Jake Bentley was a nice warm-up to this week’s Drew Lock, but only a warm-up. This is the real deal.
**Yes, the backup quarterback for the Missouri Tigers is none other than Lindsey Scott, Jr.
2) Lucky Sevens. Missouri is 7th in total offense. We are 7th in total defense. Somebody is going home disappointed. If Georgia loses, sure we’re all going to be sad. If Georgia wins in a shootout, the defensive minded Coach Kirby Smart ain’t gonna be happy. If Georgia wins in a low-scoring slugfest, Secret Agent and Missouri OC Derek Dooley will be the one crying to momma (and likely sliding up in Josh Heupel’s DMs).
Can our defense stop the Lock-led juggernaut? They have an established wide out in 6’3” Emmanuel Hall. You remember him, right? The guy who caught two TDs and 141 yards receiving in Athens last year? Yeah, that’s the one. Plus they will split out a spectacular true freshman Jalen Knox, who at 6’0” is a little shiftier and a nice balance to the rangy Hall.
3) Larry Rountree. The Third. Here’s a story, about a man named Larry: several years ago a former Georgia football assistant got a ring from his former college teammate. Turns out this old friend had a pretty good tailback for the high school team he was coaching, and convinced the UGA staff to take a look. The player had a GPA higher than his 40 time. They signed him and he arrived in Athens to much fanfare. That player was Keith Marshall.
Coach Lilly moved on, but now the high school coach had some recruiters on speed dial. He convinced several to come see Marshall’s replacement, a slightly smaller and just slightly slower version of Keith. This player also eventually played in Athens. His name? Marcus Marshall, Keith’s younger brother, and the one who scored a touchdown in Sanford as a freshman for Georgia Tech.
Missouri sophomore Larry Rountree just happens to have taken the mantle from Keith, then Marcus, as a Division I running back out of Millbrook HS. Rountree is as solid as they come, not explosive, but he is versatile and already has a couple of 150+ yard games in his young career. If Mel Tucker decides to try and take away the pass, or at least significantly hinder it’s success, then Roundtree is more than capable of making UGA pay the price.
What worries you about Saturday’s second scheduled SEC slot? Leave them in the comments below. And as always…