COLUMBIA, MO. — No. 16 Georgia defeated Missouri 28-27 in the SEC opener at Faurot Field. True freshman quarterback Jacob Eason led the Bulldogs (3-0) on a 10-play, 80-yard drive and hit Isaiah McKenzie with a 20-yard TD pass on fourth-and-10 with 1:29 to play. Missouri falls to 1-2.
Here’s how it broke down from a performance standpoint:
The Bulldogs scored four touchdowns, got 409 yards overall and 308 yards passing behind a true freshman quarterback making his first SEC road start. Eason finished 29-of-55 passing with three touchdowns and an interception. But the reason Eason had to throw the ball so much was (a) Georgia fell behind and (b) it couldn’t run the ball. The Bulldogs averaged 2.7 yards per rush and Nick Chubb (19-63) was held under 100 yards for the second consecutive week. Missouri also recorded four sacks.
Georgia certainly made the plays it had to in the end, racking up three interceptions and recovering two fumbles. But Missouri moved the ball way too easily, especially in the first half. The Tigers piled up 471 total yards – including 376 passing – and receiver J’Mmon Moore had 196 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns. Quincy Mauger’s second interception of the night in the Missouri end zone kept the Tigers from extending their lead midway through the fourth quarter. Then Dominick Sanders stripped Moore on the final play and Juwuan Briscoe recovered to end the Tigers’ last threat.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Georgia obviously has a serious problem with its kickers, as William Ham missed two more, and these were from 23 and 38 yards. Rodrigo Blankenship also was yanked on kickoffs after mis-hitting one that led to good field position for Missouri. And then the Bulldogs had a punt-coverage personal-foul penalty for the third straight week. This time, Kirby Choates was flagged for punt-catch interference and targeting and ejected for the game. This area hasn’t cost Georgia a game yet, but will soon.
The Bulldogs were out-gained and were a fourth-and-10 from losing to a team that won only one SEC game a year ago. But Kirby Smart and his staff did a good job of managing late-game situations, of challenging close calls with the referees and of keeping the players from losing hope when they fell behind both early and late in the game. Also, Jim Chaney deserves credit for how he’s bringing along Eason, who seems to be growing rapidly in confidence by the day.
Georgia gets a B because any SEC win on the road is a good win. But this could just as easily have been a C grade. The Bulldogs are simply very average at this point and are not playing at a consistently high level. But this group’s never-give-up attitude may ultimately lift this team beyond its limitations.