The Red and Black shrugged off the cold and a sloppy second quarter to cruise away from the Missouri Tigers this afternoon, 49-14.
After blowing up through the air against Mississippi State, then running all over South Carolina, Todd Monken’s offense churned out 615 of the most balanced yards you’ll ever see. JT Daniels was a clean 16 of 27 passing for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers, helped by what would have been a career game for any other receiver except George Pickens. For the sophomore from Hoover, Alabama today’s 5 reception, 126 yard outing (which included one impressive touchdown and another that was simply jaw-dropping) was sort of old hat.
Pickens has been a next-level talent since he arrived in Athens. The fact that the ‘Dawgs now have an offensive coordinator who knows how to scheme for him and a quarterback who can carry out that plan seems simply unfair at times. It was also a big day for freshman tight end Darnell Washington. In case you missed it, the Battle Hymnal crew predicted earlier this week that Monken would go to Washington a lot, and his 2 catches for 61 yards looked like it actually could have been more if needed. If in fact Georgia is the leader for transferring LSU tight end Arik Gilbert, and Washington doesn’t decamp for greener pastures, Georgia could have one of the premier tight end groups in recent college football history in 2021.
But let’s not focus too much on the passing game and how it could shape up next season. The running game looked pretty impressive in the here and now as well. Zamir White led all Bulldog backs with 12 rushes for 126 yards, including a 43 yard touchdown in UGA’s 21 point third quarter that arguably broke this one open. Freshman Daijun Edwards continues to look really good in relief duty, and today broke the 100 yard mark for the first time in his college career while also scoring his first touchdown. If, as many expect, Zamir White and James Cook choose to head to the NFL after this season, the future at tailback looks very good with Kenny McIntosh, Edwards, and Kendall Milton taking over.
It was also a banner day for a Bulldog defense that had struggled at times this season. Jordan Davis’s return in the middle made as much of a difference as had his sizeable absence. Eternally yappy Missouri tailback Larry Rountree managed only an anemic 16 yards on 14 carries. In four career games against the Bulldogs Rountree, the leading rusher of all time among Mizzou tailbacks, managed a total of 98 yards on the ground.
All told Georgia gave up only 200 yards of offense, the lowest total allowed this year. They also held the Tigers scoreless in the second half while the UGA offense put on the afterburners to sock this one away.
What can we take from this game? Not a whole lot. Missouri remains a couple of years away under Eliah Drinkwitz, who nonetheless has immediately changed the culture in Columbia. It was pretty clear in that first half that the Tigers smelled an upset, and they almost made a game of it with some clutch plays to take advantage of Bulldog mistakes. But viewed in retrospect this one was really a blocked punt and short field touchdown away from being over at halftime, and double-dog over midway through the third quarter.
Kirby Smart got to play a lot of younger guys and many of them responded well. If this was in fact the last we see of the ‘Dawgs before a bowl game it was a nice reminder of the potential this program still has moving forward. Until later . . .