COLUMBIA, Mo. — Georgia faced a tough test at Missouri on Saturday but was able to turn some big plays in all three phases of the game into a 43-29 win on the road.
The Bulldog defense opened the scoring with a 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown by cornerback Tyson Campbell on Missouri’s first possession. Later in the first half, Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes blocked a punt and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs’ offense got going with three touchdown of 30 yards of more in the second half to keep Tigers’ quarterback Drew Lock at arm’s length.
Georgia QB Jake Fromm, meanwhile, shook off a quiet first half to finish 13-of-23 passing for 260 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Here is the full recap of the game, including critical plays and scoring updates.
FOURTH QUARTER SCORING/NEWS
Georgia 43, Missouri 29, 1:41: Rodrigo Blankenship 40-yard field goal. Drive: seven plays, 18 yards, 3:18.
– 4:58: Georgia holds Missouri short on fourth-and-3 from the 39-yard line, stopping Damar Crockett one yard short to take over on downs at the Missouri 41-yard line. Missouri challenged the spot, but the call stood.
– 6:08: Missouri blocks 36-yard field goal attempt by Rodrigo Blankenship.
Georgia 40, Missouri 29, 10:47: Drew Lock 11-yard rushing touchdown. Drive: 11 plays, 7 yards, 5 4:05.
Georgia 40, Missouri 22, 14:52: Jake Fromm 54-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman. Drive: five plays, 77 yards, 1:47.
THIRD QUARTER SCORING/NEWS
– 1:39: Georgia starting right guard Ben Cleveland, a redshirt sophomore, went down with an apparent leg injury and had to be helped off field. He was replaced by sohpomore Justin Shaffer.
Georgia 33, Missouri 22, 1:46: Tyler Badie 3-yard rushing touchdown (2-point conversion attempt GOOD, Al Okwuegbunam pass from Drew Lock). Drive: nine plays, 60 yards, 2:08.
Georgia 33, Missouri 14, 6:59: Jake Fromm 61-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Holloman (2-point conversion failed). Drive: two plays, 66 yards, 0:45.
– Holloman dropped the ball at the end of the play, and officials reviewed the play to determine if he lost possession before the ball crossed the goal line. A Missouri player actually picked up the ball and ran it back into the Georgia end zone. However, the call of a Georgia touchdown stood after review.
Georgia 27, Missouri 14, 7:50: Damar Crockett 5-yard rushing touchdown. Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, 3:39. Key play: Roughing the passer against Georgia on third-and-10 at the 11-yard line gives Missouri first-and-goal from 5-yard line. Crockett scored on following play.
Georgia 27, Missouri 7, 11:29: Jake Fromm 33-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley. Drive: five plays, 59 yards, 2:29
• Georgia defensive touchdown and special teams touchdown
• D’Andre Walker two sacks, two forced fumbles
SECOND QUARTER SCORING/NEWS
Georgia 20, Missouri 7, 5:45: Eric Stokes blocked punt and 8-yard return for touchdown.
– Rodrigo Blankenship missed 49-yard field goal, 7:17.
Georgia 13, Missouri 7, 11:07: Rodrigo Blankenship 21-yard field goal: Drive: Four plays, 3 yards, 0:52. Key play: Tae Crowder 43-yard interception return to Missouri 7-yard line.
Georgia 10, Missouri 7, 13:51: Rodrigo Blankenship 44-yard field goal. Drive: Seven plays, 48 yards, 3:12.
FIRST QUARTER SCORING/NEWS
Missouri 7, Georgia 7, 2:03: Larry Roundtree 7-yard run (Tucker McCann kick). Drive: Nine plays, 55 yards, 3:07. Key play: Drew Lock 10-yard run to Bulldogs’ 23, Georgia defense not set.
— Georgia LT Andrew Thomas limps off the field at 5:46 mark
— Missouri K Tucker McCann missed 41-yard field goal
— Rodrigo Blankenship’s season-opening streak of 23 touchbacks ends, 8:52
Georgia 7, Missouri 0, 9:01: Tyson Campbell 68-yard fumble return for touchdown (Rodrigo Blankenship kick).
— Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm intercepted on third-and-10 at Missouri 29 on Bulldogs opening drive.
— Georgia tailback D’Andre Swift gets the start and carries for 9 yards on the second play of the game, ending a great deal of speculation about his health status.
— Georgia sophomore Andrew Thomas gets the start at left tackle
— Georgia wins the coin toss and elects to receive
Here were our 5 things to watch for against the Tigers.
Missouri QB Drew Lock
Any football conversation concerning Missouri starts and ends with the Tigers’ celebrated senior quarterback, Drew Lock.
Lock, who led the nation with 44 touchdown passes last season and is widely projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, is off to another fast start this season.
Lock has thrown for an SEC-high 1,062 yards this season along with 11 touchdown passes, prompting Missouri’s first home sellout since 2014.
“I’ve enjoyed my time so far these first three weeks,” Lock said on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday. “Getting UGA in here, being a big-time SEC game, it’s something Columbia needs.”
Kirby Smart compared Lock’s arm strength to that of SEC legends Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, having seen the Missouri quarterback find success against his defense.
Lock passed for 253 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 53-28 win last season. The year before, in Columbia, Lock had 376 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in a game that Georgia rallied to win in the final minutes, 28-27.
Georgia football tailback rotation
There has been speculation this week that tailback D’Andre Swift might have aggravated an old groin injury in Georgia’s 49-7 win against Middle Tennessee last Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Swift, projected as the Bulldogs’ bell cow back this season, played just two series against the Blue Raiders — carrying four times for 12 yards — before being taken out of the game.
Smart suggested it was merely a matter of wanting to rotate tailbacks, but when receiver Kearis Jackson lined up to take some snaps at tailback this week, it raised a red flag.
Does Georgia have an issue with its depth at running back? After all, the stable thinned in the preseason when the top-rated tailback in the 2018 signing class, Zamir White, suffered a season-ending injury covering a punt in fall drills.
If Swift is indeed limited, or prone to tweaking an old injury, that would leave scholarship backs Elijah Holyfield, Brian Herrien and James Cook to carry the load.
It’s a situation worth monitoring.
Georgia football OT Andrew Thomas
Sophomore left tackle Andrew Thomas is considered by some to be Georgia’s most talented offensive lineman, but he can’t do much to help the team on the bench.
Thomas made the trip to Missouri just two weeks after suffering a sprained left ankle on the first offensive play of the second half at South Carolina on Sept. 8. However, freshman Cade Mays took the reps with the first-team offense during warm-ups before the Missouri game.
Thomas returned to practice on Tuesday, his ankle taped tightly, but Smart readily admitted he was limited and unable to go at full strength.
It seems likely true freshman Cade Mays will get his second career start replacing Thomas at left tackle. Mays has played relatively well, but he made two costly mistakes against the Blue Raiders that resulted in a holding penalty, and then a strip sack on Jake Fromm in the end zone.
Fellow Georgia lineman Ben Cleveland fell on the loose ball at the Bulldogs’ 2-yard line, as Holyfield was also beat on the edge resulting in a Fromm Sandwich.
The sooner Thomas gets back, the better, but Smart will be careful not to bring the 2017 Freshman All-American back too soon.
Georgia football pressure package
The most glaring statistical shortcoming for Georgia football through three games has been sacks, where the Bulldogs rank last in the nation in generating just 0.33 sacks per game.
Smart and his players have explained that the lack of sacks is a result of opponents’ quarterbacks getting rid of the ball quickly, not allowing for enough time for the pass rush to deliver a hit.
Indeed, the passes that have been completed against the Bulldogs have been short, a fact reflected by Georgia’s nation-leading 7.39 yards allowed per completion.
“Everybody wants sacks, everybody wants pass rush,” Smart said. “I look more at total yards per completion, and how many points they had on the scoreboard.”
Smart said it’s “probably fair to say we haven’t pressured much,” but that could change at Missouri.
Linebacker Monty Rice says the Bulldogs have “some good stuff on third down that we can go to that people won’t be able to block,” provided the Tigers find themselves in third-and-long situations.
About Missouri football
The Tigers have won nine of their last 10 games dating back to their 53-28 loss at Georgia last season, the blemish being a 33-16 defeat at the hands of Texas in the Texas Bowl.
Third-year head coach Barry Odom, who like Smart is coaching his alma mater, hired Derek Dooley away from the Dallas Cowboys to take over as Missouri’s offensive coordinator.
Dooley, the son of legendary Bulldogs coach Vince Dooley, has adjusted Missouri’s high volume passing game from the so-called “Air Raid” spread attack to more of a pro-style.
Lock said part of the reason he came back for his senior season was to play in more of a pro-style attack, the better to be prepared to transition into the NFL.
Smart explained how that has made the Tigers’ passing attack more dangerous
“To have the commitment and play in the SEC, you’ve got to be able to run the ball,” Smart said, “and the last three games, [Missouri’s] commitment to that has allowed them to get one on one matchups outside.”
Lock has been sacked just once this season while attempting 113 passes.