COLUMBIA, Mo. – Juwuan Briscoe was ready for the pass. He was ready because of what had happened the first time.
“They got that pass on my before, so I knew they were going to come back to it,” Briscoe said. “Once he hiked the ball, I just knew what it was. So I made the play.”
Georgia’s secondary experienced a redemption game on Saturday night, with the reason and the redemption all happening in the same game.
In the first half, Briscoe and his defensive backs were torched. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock had 322 passing yards and two touchdowns. He was completing passes all over the field.
The second half was a different story. Lock only threw for 54 yards, and was picked off three times. Briscoe had one, and safety Quincy Mauger had the other two, including one that ended up saving the game.
Two of the interceptions were, as head coach Kirby Smart put it, mistakes by Lock. Briscoe and Mauger sat back and were able to pounce on poorly-thrown balls.
“To be honest with you I don’t think we did a whole lot different,” Smart said of any halftime adjustments. “The quarterback made some mistakes. He threw us two gifts. Three gifts.”
But Mauger’s interception in the end zone was an athletic catch, getting a foot in bounds. It prevented Missouri from attempting a field goal that would have made it a nine-point game.
Briscoe’s interception, in the third quarter, didn’t lead to any points. In fact none of the five turnovers did: Georgia’s offense has yet to score any points this season after a turnover.
But Briscoe, who had been beaten on two touchdowns, was able to find redemption in his pick.
“Yeah, I can say that,” Briscoe said. “It was just me trusting myself, trusting my coaches, trusting my technique and my teammates. That’s what really brought us back in the second half.”
It helped to have positive feedback. After the second touchdown given up by Briscoe, in the second half, Smart noted that players came over to Briscoe and offered encouragement.
“Nobody panicked,” Smart said. “Everyone went over and hugged Juwuan and said: You’re on the best wideout, you’ve covered him all game, you’re doing a great job, you gave up on one play. It’s part of being a DB.”
Smart may have been right that there weren’t any tactical adjustments. But Briscoe said the defensive backs did figure out some things about what Lock and Missouri were doing.
“We kinda picked up on a couple tendencies, and knew what routes were coming,” Briscoe said. “So that’s what helped us.”
There wasn’t much learning needed for the final play.
Missouri was trying to get in position for a game-winning field goal when receiver J’Mon Moore hauled in a pass and reached the 50. But safety Dominick Sanders stripped the ball, and Briscoe pounced on it.
“That was a reaction, really,” Briscoe said. “Dom really made the play. I was just there to make the fumble.”
It was over. A game that exposed Georgia’s secondary had still ended up as a victory – with the secondary earning some of the credit.
“It was a sigh of relief,” Briscoe said. “It’s a great feeling, but it was a sigh of relief.”