Score an impressive number of points? Check.
Hold Mizzou below the Bulldogs’ season scoring average? Check.
Get the starters out and resting before garbage time? Check.
Avoid any serious injuries? Check.
Get JT Daniels some snaps to work out the rust? Check.
Georgia did all these things fans were looking for in order to label today’s SEC East matchup with Missouri a success. While you could find fault here and there, in the end analysis this was the type of game Georgia needed to play as it heads down the stretch and gears up for a College Football Playoff run.
The headline is obviously the return of JT Daniels, who entered the game in relief of Stetson Bennett and looked exactly like what Kirby Smart has said he is: a very good player who needs to work the kinks out following a long layoff. Daniels completed 7 of 11 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown pass to Ladd McConkey. He also had an interception on a ball thrown behind Jermaine Burton that Burton tipped up and into the hands of a Mizzou defender. He also had a screen pass batted down and a couple of reads that I’m not 100% sure about.
But Daniels clearly gets the ball out fast and his best throws are clearly something Georgia needs down the stretch. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to take back the starting job just yet from Stetson Bennett.
For his part Bennett also had some throws that raised an eyebrow, but the Tigers never could make him pay for them. The Mailman ended the day 13 of 19 passing for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns passing, another solid effort. Having seen the two quarterbacks on the field one after the other, Kirby’s repeated declaration that Bennett is the guy who gives them the best shot to win right now looks believable? Will that be the case next week? In Atlanta in December? Only time will tell.
On the other hand the Bulldog rushing attack didn’t look too hot. While the Red and Black churned out 168 yards on the ground, 52 of them came on a pair of runs by receivers Kearis Jackson and Arian Smith. While those kind of plays are a nice accent to the offense, one which we’d hoped to see with a nearly healthy receiving corps, the Bulldogs never reliably lined up and ran it between the tackles on the worst run defense in the SEC. Missouri brought safeties and played seven men inside the box to stop the run, but Georgia only managed to pick up every defender and spring the back for a solid run on a couple of occasions, and never consistently for an entire drive.
That’s something they will need to be able to do next week against a Tennessee team that is going to stress the Bulldog defense. We’re going to need to keep the offense on the field and burn some clock here and there.
Defensively, what can you say? It was another sterling effort. The SEC’s leading rusher, Tyler Badie, was held to 41 yards on 9 carries. In fact Mizzou’s leading rusher was actually freshman quarterback Tyler Macon, who picked up 42 yards on 11 carries. Macon was only 6 of 13 passing for 74 yards, though some of that was Tiger receivers not being able to handle sidearmed passes he threw with Bulldog defenders bearing down on him. However Macon (no relation) looks to me like a guy you could build something around if you’re Eliah Drinkwitz.
Georgia will travel next week to Knoxville to take on the Big Urnge of Tennessee in their final SEC contest of the season. At stake is the first undefeated SEC season since 1982, and obviously a whole lot more down the line. I expect the Red and Black will get Tennesse’s best shot. Let’s just hope their aim with the football is as bad as it is with mustard bottles. Until later...