Columbia, Mo. — Georgia very clearly is not the best team in the country. It can’t be in a game in which it didn’t take the lead until there was 4:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs though were able to chip away at Missouri’s lead and come away with a 26-22 win. Georgia moves to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in SEC play.
The final score indicates just how much of a struggle it was for the Bulldogs. They trailed for nearly the entire game, had multiple turnovers and didn’t score a touchdown until the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Georgia’s overwhelming talent advantage proved to be crucial for the Bulldogs, as Missouri very clearly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. Georgia’s offensive line finally got some push and salted the game away late thanks to some strong running by Daijun Edwards. He picked up multiple first downs on Georgia’s final drive and scored the game-winning touchdown with 4:03 remaining.
A team that once seemed unbeatable very seriously flirted with danger. The Missouri defensive line got great push throughout the evening and Georgia couldn’t get out of its own way until the fourth quarter.
It was easily the worst performance of the season for Georgia after looking like world-beaters in the first four games of the season.
Red zone, offensive line disaster
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Georgia couldn’t move the ball in the red zone. The struggles were there against Samford. Georgia kicked three red zone field goals last week against Kent State.
It did so again on Saturday against Missouri. But unlike the Kent State game, Georgia wasn’t able to hit on the explosive plays and didn’t score its first touchdown until the fourth quarter. And even that required a fourth down conversion after the Bulldogs got stoned on third down.
Let this game be evidence as to why explosive plays matter. And why it’s time to get concerned about the Georgia offensive line.
Kirby Smart made it clear coming into the game that the Tigers had a stout defensive front. But you would’ve thought the Bulldogs were playing against the 2016 Alabama defensive line with the way things were going.
Stetson Bennett was sacked twice times and probably should’ve been taken down even more. Bennett’s passing numbers weren’t great, as he finished 24 of 44 for 312 yards. He also dropped a handoff with Daijun Edwards, giving Missouri great field position. The Heisman campaign that Bennett was on just a week ago seems to have come to a crashing halt.
The Bulldogs finished with 170 yards on the ground, with a few explosive runs by Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh greatly upping those numbers. A 35-yard run for Milton ended in a fumble on Georgia’s second drive of the game. It should be very telling that Georgia turned to Edwards to salt away the game late going forward.
The Bulldogs have rotated on the offensive line throughout the season. Smart has praised their depth. When Georgia needed a drive late, the Bulldogs rolled with Broderick Jones, Xavier Truss, Sedrick Van Pran, Tate Ratledge and Warren McClendon. We’ll see going forward if the Bulldogs continue to play musical chairs with this group, especially after some less than encouraging results.
Georgia did figure some things out late in the game, scoring touchdowns on two consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. Daijun Edwards’ 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the night with 4:03 remaining.
Harrison Mevis is money for Missouri
It feels weird to say a kicker was the best player on the field. Much less one that missed a chip shot field goal last week that would’ve won Missouri its game against Auburn.
But Mevis was money all night long for the Tigers. He made all five of his field goals, including a 56-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Tigers were able to hit on several explosive plays, but the Bulldogs gave up only one touchdown on the afternoon, which came in the second quarter. The Bulldogs gave up just two field goals in the second half. On the evening, Missouri had just 294 yards of offense.
It was the first game all season Georgia didn’t force a turnover but the defense was able to stand tall, especially with Jalen Carter out for most of the night. The star defensive tackle left the game in the second quarter after a hit to his knee and he was ruled out for the game.
Georgia did notch two sacks in the win, with Nolan Smith grabbing his second of the season.
It was a substandard performance for Kelee Ringo, who got boxed out on a 46-yard reception by Missouri’s Mookie Cooper. He also had a defensive pass interference penalty on a third-and-17 that gave the Tigers a first down.
Miserable first half
There was no noon kickoff to blame for Georgia sleep-walking through the opening 30 minutes of this one. The Bulldogs just played a poor 30 minutes of football.
Georgia fumbled twice, gifting Missouri six points in the half. The Bulldogs also gave up a 63-yard run, the longest play allowed of the season by the Georgia defense. It twice settled for field goals after driving deep into Missouri’s side of the field.
All the issues that sprouted against Kent State were once again apparent for the Bulldogs on Saturday evening against the Tigers.
“They are knocking us off the ball, they are whipping us up front,” Smart told Cole Cubelic during his halftime interview. “You can’t win in the SEC if you can’t win at the line of scrimmage.”
Things arguably could’ve and should’ve been worse. The Bulldogs busted out a fake field goal to extend their final drive of the half. Bennett picked up the first down as he ran through the line untouched.
Malaki Starks also ran down Missouri running back Cody Schrader from behind on the 63-yard run to tackle him just short of the end zone. Missouri immediately followed it up with a false start and ultimately settled for a field goal. That play proved to be key in the four-point win over Missouri.
The first half wasn’t just far below the Georgia standard. It was outright bad football. The Bulldogs clearly deserved to be trailing at halftime.
Georgia football news and notes
Javon Bullard did not make the trip to Missouri following his arrest last Sunday. Tykee Smith started in his place at the star position.
Kenny McIntosh, Arian Smith, AD Mitchell and Nyland Green all made the trip for Georgia, with all four dealing with injuries prior to the game. Mitchell and Green did not play, while Smith made his season debut, catching one pass for seven yards
Arik Gilbert was with the team but he did not dress out for the game.
Jalen Carter left the game in the first half after a low hit on his knee. The junior defensive tackle would not return to the game after being ruled out with a knee injury. Carter was involved in a pregame dust-up with several Missouri players on the field prior to the game.
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