Every weekend, UGASports.com teams up with 11Alive.com to hand out grades to Georgia’s position groups. Here is the Bulldogs’ report card from the 53-28 win over Missouri:
Quarterbacks: A+ On Saturday against the Tigers, Jake Fromm had his best game in his short career as Georgia’s quarterback. The young signal caller connected on 18 of 26 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Fromm’s season so far reads like a storybook as the true freshman quarterback is leading a revamped and potent offense. He audibled quite a few plays at the line and even ran the ball on some run-pass options. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney obviously trusts Fromm to make the right decisions despite his youth. Fromm was just one player who helped the offense pile up 696 total yards, but he led the team throughout the game and showed he is the Bulldogs’ quarterback moving forward.
Running Backs: A+ Nick Chubb led the team with 16 rush attempts, but two other Bulldogs, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift, put up more rushing yards than the senior. Chubb never quite got into a rhythm against Missouri, rushing for 70 yards but no scores, while his counterpart Michel picked up the slack and led the team with two rushing touchdowns. Swift only had six rushing attempts, but he put up 94 rushing yards, including a 71-yard run. Fromm, Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield, and Mecole Hardman also contributed to the team’s 370 rushing yards. Needless to say, this group gets an A+ for the tremendous team effort put forth by the running backs and the other rushers.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A+ The wide receivers and tight ends finally get an A+ for the first time this season, and they deserve it. Seemingly wide open for every reception, Javon Wims caught five passes for 95 yards. Terry Godwin caught four passes for 42 yards before leaving the game with a rib injury. Converted wideout Hardman has had his fair share of drops this season, but he finally made up for it with two catches for 71 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown in which the speedster showed off his elite athleticism. Charlie Woerner hauled in 66 receiving yards and sophomore Riley Ridley found the end zone, as well. Working hard as primarily great run blockers entering the game, this group finally had an opportunity to put up big numbers on the stat sheet for the first time all season.
Offensive Line: A This unit did a great job in just about every aspect of the game except for paving the way for inside runs, especially by Chubb. Right guard Solomon Kindley had an extremely hard time trying to contain defensive lineman Terry Beckner all game. It got so bad that center Lamont Gaillard gave Kindley an earful after he let Beckner past him and almost caused Chubb to give up a safety. The Missouri defense had six tackles for loss. Another worrisome facet for the offensive line were the false start penalties (and just penalties in general). Offensive line coach Sam Pittman will have a ton of great things to say about this game, but the penalties and lack of inside running success will be bullet points he will want to address going into the bye week. That said, you can’t roll up 696 yards without run blocking and pass protection.
Defensive Line: B While the defensive line did a great job of limiting the rushing attack by the Tigers, it still did not register a sack or a quarterback hurry. Trenton Thompson was still sidelined with an injury and the defensive line definitely could’ve used him to generate a pass rush against Drew Lock. Lock had tons of time to wait for his receivers to get downfield and he capitalized on the lack of pressure by the defensive line. Jonathan Ledbetter led the unit with five tackles, and John Atkins added a pass break-up to his season stat line. The unit is good, especially against the run, but the lack of pass rush is starting to become a concern—something Georgia will need to try and address before facing the Gators in two weeks.
Linebackers: B Roquan Smith, who finished with a team-high eight tackles, once again spearheaded the linebacking unit as he has done all season. The junior was flying around the middle of the field, doing an admirable job of limiting outside runs by the Tigers. Smith and fellow inside linebacker Juwan Taylor did not have their best games in pass coverage, though. Lock found receivers in holes behind the linebackers and in front of the defensive backs too many times for this unit to get an ‘A.’ Lorenzo Carter did have a nice tackle for loss, but neither he nor fellow outside linebacker Davin Bellamy got to the quarterback like they had earlier in the season.
Defensive Backs: C- The Georgia secondary had a rough time against Lock and the Tiger wide receivers. Sophomore cornerback Tyrique McGhee got picked on for most of the night, giving up two of the four touchdowns Lock threw. The Missouri quarterback completed 15 of his 25 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns, and for the second year in a row looked good against UGA in the first half. The secondary was able to regroup after the halftime adjustments and senior Dominick Sanders added another interception to his lofty career total. Missouri head coach Barry Odom implemented a game plan to attack the secondary of Georgia, and the Tigers did just that for most of the game.
Special Teams: A+ With all the touchdowns being scored, it was easy to overlook a stellar performance by kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. Blankenship was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts and made all five of his PAT attempts, totaling 17 points, which is the second most all-time in school history for a placekicker. Punter Cameron Nizialek did not get to see the field much due to the Georgia offense scoring on almost every possession, but his lone punt traveled 55 yards. Missouri had one long kick return of 38 yards, but most of Blankenship's kickoffs were touchbacks. Although never breaking off a big gain, Hardman returned three kickoffs for 66 yards.