Georgia football-Darnell Washington-red zone
Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington (0) runs after a catch against Missouri Tigers linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper (8) during the third quarter in a NCAA Football game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, October 1, 2022, in Columbia, Mo. Georgia won 26-22. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Georgia football winners and losers following worrying win over Missouri

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Georgia football winners losers Missouri

Winner: Malaki Starks

Remember the acrobatic interception made by Starks against Oregon? Or him perfectly baiting Spencer Rattler into tossing him the ball against South Carolina?

Well, the play he made against Missouri may top both of them.

Missouri running back Cody Schrader was matching his way through the end zone. He ripped through the heart of the Georgia defense and was pushing his way towards a touchdown.

Missouri immediately false started on the next play. It then failed to put the ball into the end zone, settling for a field goal.

Starks’ all-out hustle turned a seven-point play into three. In a game Georgia won by four points, that proved to be the difference.

The freshman safety finished the game with six tackles and a pass breakup. That he is making those kinds of plays in his fifth career game speaks volumes about what kind of player the Bulldogs have on their team.

“All you can say is he cares for his brother and teammates to run him down on the one like that,” outside linebacker Nolan Smith said. “That’s how the team gets closer.”

Loser: The red zone

For the third time and five games, Georgia made a mess of things in the red zone.

The Bulldogs had no problem moving the ball, rolling up 481 yards of offense and 28 first downs. But drive after drive stalled out just short of the Missouri end zone.

Georgia’s first three possessions that reach the red zone all ended in field goals. That’s not ideal, especially when Georgia was trailing during each of those circumstances.

“If we don’t answer the bell earlier then we won’t be a very good football team,” Smart said. “We’ve got to improve in those areas. It’s not like we haven’t been working on it prior to tonight. We’ve seen some of those things show through.”

Georgia did score touchdowns on its final two red zone possessions but that should be the norm and not the exception at this point.

It isn’t like the Bulldogs are lacking talented options either. Brock Bowers is one of the best players in the country. Darnell Washington is a giant masquerading as a football player. Kenny McIntosh has proven to be a versatile pass catcher.

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