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Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman runs for a touchdown after a catch in the second half on Saturday against Missouri.

Georgia football’s 5 best players against Missouri

Cy Brown

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. 

Top Dawgs

Georgia’s calling card through the first six games of the season was its defense. But in the seventh game, it needed a top performance from the offense to get the 53-28 win over Missouri. The Bulldogs racked up 696 total yards of offense, the second-most in a single game in school history. Because of that, offensive and special teams players make up all five spots in Top Dawgs for the first time this season.

5. Rodrigo Blankenship — Blankenship was responsible for 17 of Georgia’s points in the win. He went 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 43 yards and made all 5 of his extra points. In the second and third quarters, his field goals helped create some nice separation between the Dawgs and Tigers, making the game more comfortable than it seemed it would be after the first quarter.

4. D’Andre Swift — If Swift gets an inch of daylight, he’ll take a mile. He rushed for a team-high 94 yards against Missouri, 71 of which came on a single run. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney needs to keep finding way for him to get the ball, because he’s simply too good to only touch it six times a game.

3. Sony Michel — With 9 rushes for 86 yards (9.6 YPC) and 2 touchdowns, Michel was Georgia’s most efficient and consistent rusher. But the play he’ll be remembered for in this one is a teeth-rattling shoulder he laid into DeMarkus Acy. What a lick.

2. Jake Fromm — The training wheels are finally coming off. For the first time in his career, Fromm was allowed to sling the ball around. He didn’t disappoint. The freshman passed for a career-high 326 yards with a 69.2 completion percentage and 2 touchdowns. He also added a touchdown on the ground and ran for 14 yards on 4 carries.

1. Mecole Hardman — A spell of drops had some fans questioning whether Hardman is more suited for his old position, defensive back, than he is for receiver. Consider that question answered. Hardman had 2 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown along with a 35-yard touchdown run. This performance showed why Kirby Smart is so high on him at receiver. Hardman has the potential to be most explosive playmaker on this team, and he proved that against Missouri.

By the numbers

Here are some interesting stats and numbers regarding Georgia football in the wake of the Missouri win, compiled by Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

3rd — Total defense nationally, yielding 252.6 yards per game, behind only Michigan and Washington.

9th — Georgia’s national rank in passing yards per attempt (9.0)

13th — Georgia’s national rank in pass efficiency rating (158.2).

1st — Jake Fromm’s SEC rank in pass efficiency rating (170.4).

329 — Dominick Sanders’ career interception return yardage, the most in school history. His 18-yard return passed Jake Scott for the school record and was his 14th career pick to pass Smart on Georgia’s all-time list for career interceptions. Smart said of Sanders after the game: “It just shows he’s more athletic than I was.”

4 — First-year freshmen who have started this season for Georgia, after Monty Rice started at inside linebacker. Rice also became the 13th Bulldogs player to get his first career start this season.

50.98 percent — Georgia on third downs this season, best in the SEC, and the only conference team to convert the majority of its third downs.

Injury report

Georgia’s upcoming bye week comes at the perfect time, as the Bulldogs added more names to an already lengthy injury list. Terry Godwin suffered a rib injury in the first half, while defensive linemen David Marshall and DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle both missed the game with undisclosed ailments, as did receiver Jayson Stanley. Reserve offensive lineman Pat Allen is now nursing a lower leg injury. DT Trent Thompson missed his second consecutive game with a knee injury, and linebacker Reggie Carter missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.

“It’s been seven weeks in a row in our league along with Notre Dame and Appalachian State,” Smart said after the game. “We need some rest and recovery. It’s coming at a great time. We’ve got some healing to do. It’s tough and it wears on your depth. We’ve got to get some guys healthy.”

Dawgs in the polls

With the win and losses by Clemson and Washington, Georgia received a bump in both traditional top 25 polls. The Bulldogs jumped from No. 4 to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 and from No. 5 to No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll. They stayed at No. 2 in the SEC Country Power Poll.

Time to work

Now begins the long two-week stretch leading up to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. But don’t think the Bulldogs will be taking it easy over the bye week. In fact, according to Smart, this isn’t a “bye week” at all.

“They have to embrace work if they want to be champions. We’ll find out about this team this week,” Smart said. “Some call it an off week, some call it a bye week, we call it a work week. The seniors carry that load. They drive that message home. It’s their team and the young guys need to listen.”

When the haters can’t hate

When you’ve got noted Florida fans such as Spencer Hall of SB Nation writing stuff like this, you know you’re doing something right:

When Georgia’s gone 7-0 before, it meant SEC titles at least, and in one modern case — the hallowed 1980 season — it meant a national championship. There is no snide joke about inevitably losing to Florida or Alabama here. I’ve been preparing my soul for the real possibility of consistently good Georgia football for several months now. For your own protection, I suggest you do the same.

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