It speaks volumes upon volumes about the state of, if not the expectations of the Georgia football program. Five or six years ago, heck, even two years ago in Kirby Smart’s first season, a 14-point road win against a potent offense would have brought feelings of celebration.
This win, it was different. In spite of doing some things not so well and not playing what Kirby Smart more or less said before halftime as ‘not Georgia football,’ it was still a two-score win.
Like any win, some things Georgia did well, and some...not so much.
Here’s how the three keys to a Georgia win were met.
Contain the tight end
Ok, everyone knows what Drew Lock can do with the deep ball. For goodness sakes, you saw it first-hand if you were there for last year’s meeting in Athens. The x-factor here is defending Mizzou’s tight ends. A lot has been made of Georgia’s ability to replace Davin Bellamy and Roquan Smith from last year’s team. If Georgia’s position players here play a solid game, it takes away that part of the field, allowing the Bulldogs to push the Tigers passing attack to the edge.
There’s not a way to avoid this one. Saturday was not exactly one for the highlight reel of Georgia’s interior linebackers and safeties. The Dawgs did indeed shut things down on the edge, which was highly welcomed, but anytime that a tight end has nearly ten catches and multiple passes over the middle keep drives going, it’s not a good thing.
Ground and Pound
Georgia needs to control the game from the start, and that’ll begin in the trenches. The best way to lull the home crowd back into a slumber that’ll be in place for an 11 am local kickoff? Eat up time and yards. In all honesty, this is a game that’s taylor-made for Holyfield, Swift and company to have a highlight day with Fromm keeping things off-balance as well.
Maybe it was focus, maybe it was a small object being obliterated at halftime or perhaps it was an adjustment made by Chaney and Company. Whatever it was, Georgia got things going on offense, on the ground and the air, in the second half - a good thing since Mizzou’s offense didn’t go away quietly.
Press & Lock
Much has been made of Georgia’s lack of pass-rush so far this season. It’s worth noting that part of that is a result of quick-step drops the past two games and a run-first Austin Peay opener. Still, based on what was seen a year ago, you’d like for Georgia to get something going on Saturday to either pressure/sack luck or at a minimum, force sacks due to coverage downfield. Few things can toss a pass-happy team off-balance like a quarterback scrambling around and being sacks or forced into turnovers. If Georgia does that - it’s chances of winning go up on Saturday.
There were not highlight-reel multiple sacks, but Georgia did do enough up front to rush Lock into incompletions and keep things off-balance to a degree. The points piled up by the Tigers are not very sightly, but when you consider one score was gift-wrapped thanks to one of the worst late hit penalties in recent memory and the fact that Lock was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in more than a year, Georgia’s gameplan for him appeared to work for the most part.