Kirby Smart didn’t mince words when explaining Georgia’s 16-6 half-time deficit at Missouri.
“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.”
It marks only the second time in Smart’s tenure at UGA -- and the first since a win over Missouri in 2016 -- that one of his Georgia teams has trailed to an unranked opponent by double digits.
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Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is 10-of-24 passing for 140 yards through the first half, sacked once but also successfully executing a fake field goal with a 7-yard run that advanced the ball to set up Jack Podlesny for a successful 33-yard kick right before the half
“Stetson Bennett has not been on point,” SEC Network play-by-play man Tom Hart observed.
Missouri has outgained Georgia 194-182 at the half, with junior quarterback Brady Cook 14-of-18 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown through the first half.
SEC analyst Jordan Rodgers explained how Missouri’s aggressive defensive game plan had much to do with that.
“We’ve seen cover zero, five-man pressures, and man coverage in big moments,” Rodgers said. “(Missouri defensive coordinator) Blake Baker has put the pressure on Bennett in many different ways.”
Rodgers said UGA needs to find a way to get Brock Bowers more involved -- the All-American has 3 catches for 52 yards on five targets through the first half.
RELATED: Brock Bowers championed as Heisman Trophy candidate
Smart pointed to Georgia struggling to get good field position after uncharacteristic defensive letdowns, and the team’s two turnovers.
Kendall Milton had the ball punched out of his grip from behind on a first-quarter run, and Bennett fumbled in a read-option play with Daijun Edwards.
“We’ve got to get some field position, we started off in a hole on the field position,” Smart said. “We turned the ball over, they’ve got all the momentum, and we haven’t been able to reverse that.
“We’ve got to reverse the momentum. We’ve got to get some momentum back.”
Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who was involved in a pregame skirmish, left the game in the second quarter after appearing to re-aggravate the ankle injury that has limited him since the opening game with Oregon.
WATCH: Jalen Carter, UGA defenders involved in pregame skirmish at Missouri
Missouri will get the ball to start the second half.