The Georgia Bulldogs were able to escape Columbia, Missouri, with a narrow 28-27 victory. The offense, which was led by true freshman Jacob Eason, found its way into the end zone with just over a minute left, and the defense forced five turnovers. Here are the grades for each position in what was an extremely close game for the Dawgs.
That quarterback controversy that consumed the entire summer and into the season, well, that can effectively be put to bed now. Jacob Eason completed 29 of his 55 attempts for 308 yards and three touchdowns and led the Bulldogs on a game-winning drive during the late stages of the fourth quarter. Eason had some bad throws and when he scrambled out of the pocket he did not look comfortable, but his performance was the best you could’ve asked for from a freshman playing in his first true road game. Eason will be tested against Ole Miss next week, but after watching him drive the field late in the game, he just might be up for the challenge.
Running Backs: C
The running backs were a non-factor against Missouri, mostly due to holes not opening up for most of the game. Nick Chubb finished with just 63 yards on 19 carries and Sony Michel only had 37 yards on nine carries. Missouri’s defensive line did a good job of limiting Chubb, which made offensive coordinator Jim Chaney adjust his game plan, basically reverting to passing on most downs. Georgia will need to find a way to get Chubb involved against Ole Miss and be able to get back to a balanced offense because the Rebels’ defense will be one of the best Georgia will face this season.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B-
Isaiah McKenzie has established himself as the top wide receiver for Eason, amassing eighteen targets against Missouri. McKenzie finished with ten receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns. McKenzie is now second in the SEC in receiving yards, trailing only J’Mon Moore or Missouri. As for the receivers as a whole, well, they had plenty of drops. Terry Godwin did haul in four passes for 68 yards, and fullback Christian Payne caught a touchdown pass. The drops have to be fixed, obviously, but the emergence of McKenzie as a legit first option is a good thing.
PHOTOS: UGA vs. Mizzou
Offensive Line: C-
Last week we said that Sam Pittman has his work cut out for him in his first year as the offensive line coach, and we will echo that again and also add that he might need a small miracle to get this group to come together. While some would expect this grade to be lower, we would point pass protection was not bad this week. Of course the run blocking was bad, thus making running lanes for Chubb and Michel almost non-existent. A lot of that had to do with defenders in the box than blockers. It seems Pittman is still trying different combinations as freshman Solomon Kindley did get into his first career game, and we saw other players moved around.
Overall Offense: C
The Bulldogs’ rushing attack was shut down early and they had to rely on Eason throwing 55 times in order to win the game. The offensive line has got to be able to make some holes for Chubb to run through so that the offense can go back to more of a balanced attack against Ole Miss or else next weekend could get ugly quick.
Defensive Line: C+
After such a great game by Trenton Thompson last week against Nicholls, Thompson showed up on the stat sheet with just three tackles and zero sacks. John Atkins did have five tackles and nice pass breakup, and the four freshmen contributed in their own ways, as well. Missouri averaged just 2.6 yards per carry, which can be contributed to the defensive line being able to contain the run. Zero sacks and only one tackle for loss by the line are concerning, but Missouri’s offensive line was a lot larger than the Georgia defensive line and Drew Lock did not hold onto the ball for any length of time.
Natrez Patrick led the team in tackles with nine and his fellow middle linebacker Roquan Smith finished with four. The outside linebackers did not show up on the stat sheet a whole lot and they were unable to register a sack, much like the defensive line. A new name popped up in transfer Ckus Amaechi who had a big game. The linebackers and defensive line have to start getting pressure on the quarterback, especially with the very talented Chad Kelly up next
Throughout most the game, the Georgia secondary was continually getting beat by Missouri’s wide receivers. Drew Lock was picking on Juwuan Briscoe the entire game, but Briscoe was able to make Lock pay by intercepting the Missouri quarterback early in the third quarter. The secondary forced a total of five turnovers, with three of them being interceptions, and two of those were picked off by senior defensive back Quincy Mauger. Mauger, who has not seen extended playing time this year, might have just played his way back into the rotation after his performance against the Tigers. The five forced turnovers were huge, but the pass defense was a cause for concern, as well.
Overall Defense: C
Georgia did a great job of limiting Missouri’s rushing attack, but the inability to get pressure on Lock raises cause for concern. The five turnovers were huge, but the pass defense could use some work heading into their toughest matchup yet against Ole Miss.
Special Teams: D
This is the third week in a row where the special teams have one of the worst grades in the article. This week the grade comes from the fact that Georgia shanked two field goals, and the punt coverage unit looked lost. Kick interference, a targeting call and no one in place to land on a muffed punt were some highlights of the punt coverage team. The missed field goals almost cost Georgia the game and the miscues on the punt coverage did not help Georgia’s chances either.
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