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Georgia beat Missouri 43-29 on Saturday.

Winners and Losers after Georgia’s sluggish win over Missouri

Connor Riley

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Winners and Losers from Georgia’s win over Missouri

Winner: Senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker

Going into the Missouri game, the biggest question on that was asked about the defense was, “Can Georgia get a pass rush?” Well, Georgia’s senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker gave a pretty resounding answer. He racked up two more sacks on Saturday, as well as forcing two fumbles on Saturday against Missouri.

“I think you guys gave me all the motivation in the world when you asked if Georgia can get any  pressure on him,” Walker said on Saturday after the game.

“That was my mindset, they said they haven’t had any sacks, so might as well get the ball from him, too.”

Related: Georgia senior D’Andre Walker doubles down on sacks at Missouri

While Walker is still the only Georgia player with a sack on the season (Walker now has 3.0 on the season), the Bulldogs were able to a better job as a team of putting pressure on Lock throughout the day. The Missouri quarterback didn’t throw a touchdown on the day, something he only did once all of last season and completed just 23 of his 48 pass attempts.

It wasn’t a perfect effort from Georgia, as it gave up 29 points and 172 rushing yards, but given that Missouri had scored 40 points in each game this season, the Bulldogs defense clearly got the better of the Tigers.

Loser: Offensive line

Saturday wasn’t a great day for the unit as a whole. For one, the line lost two starters in right guard Ben Cleveland and left tackle Andrew Thomas to injury on Saturday. Left guard Solomon Kindley didn’t have a stand-out game either, as he struggled in pass protection.

The offensive line was thought to be a strong point coming into the year, given that four starters from last year’s team returned and a number of highly touted freshmen, like 5-star guard Jamaree Salyer or Cade Mays who has filled in for Thomas at left tackle, were being added to the mix. But for whatever reason, the offensive line hasn’t yet turned into a dominant unit. While Georgia has still been able to rack up 40 points in each game, it won’t be able to do that against No. 5 LSU and No. 10 Auburn if the offensive line doesn’t get some continuity and improve.

Winner: Junior wide receiver Riley Ridley

Jeremiah Holloman could’ve gotten some love here had he not dropped the football dangerously close to the endzone against Missouri. Instead we’re going to shine some light on Ridley. The junior wide receiver hauled in five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. While those numbers weren’t quite as good as his brother Calvin’s were for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, he did lead the Bulldogs in catches and receiving yards.

He also made two unreal grabs in the second half, one which really helped Georgia ice the game as he somehow was able to get his foot down on a key 3rd and 11.

And then there was the time when he skied for what turned into a 33-yard touchdown catch.

Every week it’s somebody else in this Georgia receiving core that seems to have a monster game. This position group has arguably been Georgia’s best unit this season, as Ridley, Holloman and Mecole Hardman are all having huge years..Terry Godwin and Demetris Robertson have combined for 2 catches on the year and that isn’t even a concern for the Bulldogs.

Loser: The Georgia injury situation 

Last year, Georgia didn’t have a number of players miss time due to injury. That hasn’t been the case this year so far as it looks like the injury bug has bitten Georgia. In Saturday’s game, four starters alone left the game due. Thomas once again injured his ankle as he left the game and didn’t return. Cleveland will be out for the foreseeable future with a fractured fibula, meaning Georgia will have two new faces on the offensive line.

On defense, linebacker Monty Rice didn’t play in the game due to an MCL injury.

 “He practiced during the week. He was limited,” Smart said after the game. “Didn’t think he could move around and play in space like he needed to so he wasn’t able to go. He wanted to go, tried to go.”

Freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell also missed chunks of the game due to a stomach bug per Smart. And Tyler Simmons, a key special teams player, could miss the next two to three weeks as well.

There’s also the fact that freshmen Zamir White and Divaad Wilson have missed time due to ACL injuries, though there is some hope that Wilson can return before the end of the season.

As Georgia moves goes further into SEC play, it can’t continue to see meaningful contributors miss time due to injury. As Georgia fans saw in 2013, ironically the last time Georgia played LSU, injuries can derail a promising season. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this year.

Winner: Kirby Smart

It seems like this has been glossed over, but Georgia did still beat an SEC team, with a likely first-round draft pick at quarterback in Lock, on the road by 14 points. That’s still a solid win.

But the Bulldogs looked sloppy. There were a litany of mistakes made that Georgia won’t be able to make against the Alabama’s and Clemson’s of the world. And Smart is going to be able to identify those mistakes, like dropping the ball near the endzone, and correct them going forward.

As Smart has shown, he’s great at making adjustments and small tweaks. This Georgia team is very talented but it also has a lot of room to get better. That’s a situation that any good coach should relish, and you can bet that Smart is going to tinker and tweak with this team so it can reach it’s potential.

Related: Freshman cornerback Eric Stokes comes through for Georgia Bulldogs

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