Georgia had just failed to convert on a third down in the red zone. It meant another field goal for the Bulldogs, something that has been far too common for Georgia this season. The Bulldogs rank 81st in the country in red zone touchdown percentage. Only 57 percent of Georgia’s 42 trips into the red zone have ended in touchdowns this season. Georgia’s 13 red zone field goals rank fourth in the country.
It’s one of the few things Georgia clearly does not do at an elite level. Among teams ranked in the top 10 of the first College Football Playoff rankings, only Michigan had a lower touchdown percentage rate in the red zone. Playoff hopefuls Oklahoma, Alabama and Oregon all rank in the top-10 in the country in that stat.
Smart calmly answered how Georgia could go about rectifying the issue when asked on Monday.
“Converting third downs, scoring from further out, being able to run the ball better,” Smart said. “If you had to pick one thing it would be execution, so you could say that one guy kept us from doing this, whether it was a penalty, a mental error, a decision by the quarterback.”
Despite the red zone issues, Georgia has had little trouble scoring points this season. The Bulldogs rank 14th in the country in points per game this season, scoring 38.4 points per game this season. The Bulldogs also displayed some explosiveness in their passing game on Saturday that could help open things up for the offense. A healthy Jermaine Burton and Arian Smith make things easy for the entire offense.
Related: Kirby Smart discusses ‘the biggest setback’ at wide receiver, health updates on Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens
Missouri’s defensive strategy also forced Georgia to lean on the explosive passing game. The Tigers wanted to clog the line of scrimmage so to take away the run. Zamir White had just 16 rushing yards on 9 carries in the game, his least productive game of the season.
Those clogged running lanes also had something to do with Georgia’s ability to score in the red zone.
“Usually in the red area when you can run the ball stubbornly, you can score touchdowns,” Smart said. “When you can’t run the ball stubbornly, meaning there’s people in the box, not much depth on the field and people aren’t worried about the ball being thrown over their heads so you’ve got one extra hat, in some cases, two extra hats in the red area. So, you need to be really well executed to do that.”
So how might Georgia go about finding easier ways to score in the red zone? Well, one way we’ve seen is by leaning on some of the talented players on Georgia’s defense.
The Bulldogs have a goalline package where defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter both enter the game. Georgia fans saw it on Saturday, as Davis and Carter helped clear the way for a White touchdown in the second quarter.
“You hear it in the crowd when they run out. It’s exciting,” tight end John FitzPatrick said of the defensive linemen. “They’re huge dudes and they’re gonna run people over.”