COLUMBIA, MO., — Cussin’ Kirby Smart was back following the Bulldogs’ 26-22 win over Missouri.
He probably wasn’t the only one to do so amongst those who watched Georgia play on Saturday. Especially when it came to the play of the offensive line.
“Gettin’ yo ass whipped up front. That’s what the finger was,” Smart said. “Like, when you put on pads and you’ve got to strike another man, and he’s across from you and he weighs 300 and you weigh 300, somebody wins and somebody loses. So, the finger is we’re gettin’ our butts whooped, OK? Now, scheme-wise, we can maybe help them out. We can do some different things. We can look and find some things.”
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was sacked twice on the night, after getting sacked just two times in the previous four games. He was hit far more than that, as the Georgia quarterback was under a barrage of pressure throughout the evening.
The Bulldogs also struggled to run the ball through the first three quarters on Saturday. That became very problematic in the red zone, where Georgia kicked three field goals on its first three forays into the area.
Georgia didn’t reach the end zone until Kendall Milton broke the plane with 9:39 remaining in the game. That cut the deficit to 22-19.
“They came after us. I was off. We didn’t throw the ball very well tonight,” Bennett said. “I think it was a mixture of them playing well and us not executing. And that starts with me.”
Related: Georgia football-Missouri instant observations as Bulldogs flirt with danger in ugly win
The Bulldogs didn’t start to find sustained success until the fourth quarter. Georgia was able to roll up 106 of its 169 rushing yards in the final quarter, using its talent edge to wear down what was a gassed Missouri front.
For as much as the offense struggled in the first three quarters, Smart and the Georgia players took some real positives from the final 15 minutes. The Georgia offense ended the game going touchdown, touchdown and running out the final 3:39 of the game to ice the victory.
“I think they’re a really good team. I think they came out and played really hard,” center Sedrick Van Pran said. “I’m really proud of this group towards the end. I think the offensive line play was really good towards the end and was a real turning point for our offense.”
Kenny McIntosh led the way with 65 rushing yards, grinding out yards while dealing with a thigh injury he battled through. Kendall Milton had 61 yards, though he also put the ball in the ground with a first-quarter fumble.
Daijun Edwards finished things off with 51 rushing yards on eight carries. He burrowed in for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:03 remaining to give Georgia its first lead of the game at 26-22.
“They played really physical, really hard and whipped our butt up front, but I’m proud of the way our guys played,” Smart said. “When we had to run it, that was about the only time we could run it when we had to.”
Forty-nine of Edwards’ 51 yards came in the final quarter. For McIntosh, he notched 58 yards on four carries in the fourth quarter after having only seven yards on his first six carries.
For a Georgia offensive line, and tight ends group, that had its dinner eaten for much of the affair, the group took real pride in how it finished the game.
“They knew we were going to run it. We knew they were going to run it,” Georgia tight end Brock Bowers said. “We just had to pound it better than they did.”
As a team, Georgia racked up 481 yards against Missouri. It outgained the Tigers by 187 yards. The Bulldogs didn’t punt in the second half, scoring on every position before running out the clock.
Yet because of turnovers, red zone issues and poor offensive line play, Georgia scored only 26 points against Missouri. That left the Bulldogs with only a four-point margin of victory, the smallest of this season.
It was the first time Georgia successfully mounted a double-digit deficit since the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati to end the 2020 season.
The Bulldogs had to flex their composure muscles once again on Saturday and did so when they absolutely had to.
That only happened though after a number of people, Smart included were uttering some swear words about the way things were looking for Georgia.
“When you’re not running the ball well, you’re usually getting whipped,” Smart said.
Kirby Smart on Georgia football offensive line: ‘They whipped our ass’
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation