ATHENS — Georgia (5-2, 3-2 SEC) came from behind to beat Missouri (4-3, 1-3) 9-6 on Saturday night. It was the lowest scoring game in which the Bulldogs have been involved since they lost to Alabama 10-0 in Tuscaloosa in 1991. Here’s a breakdown of how they played.
An average grade may seem odd for a game in which Georgia failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2010 against Central Florida. But the reality is, the Bulldogs actually did some good things against a defense that rivals Alabama’s as the best in the SEC. Coming in with the SEC’s worst third-down conversion rate (29 percent), Georgia was 9-of-19 (47 percent) against the Tigers. As a result of that and a commitment to running the football despite the struggle to move the ball, the Bulldogs won the time of possession battle for the first time all season, and in dominating fashion (38:55 to 21:05). That said, Greyson Lambert’s inconsistent passing and Georgia’s inability to punch the ball in the end zone keeps it from being characterized as a good offense.
The only thing Georgia’s defense could have done better is to have recorded a shutout. Otherwise, it was the most thorough defensive performance by the Bulldogs since, well, last year, when they shut out Missouri 34-0. Saturday they held the Tigers to just 164 yards on 48 plays, a meager six first downs and 2 for 13 on third downs (15 percent). They also pulled off a goal-line stand after Missouri opened its first offensive possession on Georgia’s half-yard line and held the Tigers to 21 yards rushing on 22 carries. Three coverage breakdowns resulted in 86 passing yards. Otherwise, the Bulldogs were rock solid.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
The Bulldogs were two miscues from a rare, excellent day on special teams. Marshall Morgan made three field goals but missed a chip-shot, 26-yard try that could have cost them the game in the fourth quarter. Morgan also failed to advance an onside kick 10 yards when Georgia boldly went for it after its first score of the night. Otherwise, Malcolm Mitchell forced a fumble on punt coverage and Terry Godwin had 49 yards on three punt returns on a relatively calm night for special teams.
You can fuss over offensive play-calling and some risky decisions early in the game, but the bottom line is the Bulldogs managed to get an important win despite playing without two of its best players (tailback Nick Chubb and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins) and losing defensive leader Dominick Sanders to a targeting penalty early in the second half. Coach Mark Richt adjusted his decision-making to coordinate with the defensive nature of the game, and it paid off in the end.
Missouri will go down as one of the worst offensive teams to visit Sanford Stadium in a long time. It’s a shame Georgia couldn’t generate more offense itself. But all that mattered on this day was leaving with the ‘W’ and getting to the bye week with a chance to get healthy. In addition to having players out, Georgia has numerous front-line players playing with multiple aches, pains and bruises. A chance to heal up and come back healthy with SEC East possibilities still intact was the goal, and that was achieved.