Eric Stokes just has a knack of being around the ball.. that’s now 4 INTs on the year and his draft stock is 📈 pic.twitter.com/PmbmUES64V
— AJ Torres (@ajtorres1230) December 12, 2020
Eric Stokes coming out party for Georgia was two years ago in Missouri, and as it turned out the junior cornerback wasn’t done making memories in the Show-Me state.
Stokes set the tone for the No. 9-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday, picking off Tigers’ quarterback Connor Bazelak on Missouri’s opening possession to set up Georgia’s first touchdown in the 49-14 victory.
“It was big. It started it off right,” Smart said of Stokes’ fourth interception of the season.
“I thought that was probably one of the keys to the game, to get the juice flowing a bit.”
Georgia has not traditionally been a fast-starting team in the early SEC games under Smart, just 3-3 in noon kickoffs entering Saturday’s action.
Add to it that the wind-chill made it feel like 30 degrees on Saturday, and it was all the more important the Bulldogs got off to a hot start.
Stokes returned the interception 27 yards to the Missouri 23, and the Bulldogs scored six plays later on a Kenny McIntosh 2-yard touchdown run.
Big plays have become the norm for Stokes, who entered Saturday’s action as the only player in the nation with two Pick-6s, most recently against Florida.
Stokes also had two tackles in Saturday’s win at Missouri, the Bulldogs smothering a Tigers’ offense that had scored 91 points in its two preceding games by holding them to just 200 total yards.
“You never know when your moment is going to happen in life,” Stokes said a couple of weeks back. “You never know when your moment is going to be out there.
“I never knew my moment in the Missouri game two years ago was finally going to happen.”
Some two years before, Stokes came off the bench when then-freshman Tyson Campbell was injured and showed the head coach just how capable he was in coverage against future NFL quarterback Drew Lock.
Stokes had four tackles, three pass break-ups and a blocked punt in that Georgia win (43-29) in Columbia.
Saturday’s victory was much more convincing.
The Bulldogs shutout Missouri in the second half, holding the Tigers to 79 yards of total offense on 22 plays in the second half.