COLUMBIA, MO. – These observations are presented as an adjunct to the Georgia-Missouri game column, which can be found here. Georgia won 28-27.
1. Say what you will about Georgia’s rookie quarterback, but Georgia’s rookie coach acquitted himself nobly. Kirby Smart took a game going wrong and made it go right. After Missouri took a 27-21 lead on a post-turnover touchdown 66 seconds into the third quarter, the Tigers didn’t score again. They went 0-for-their-final-seven-possessions. They turned the ball over four times, the most egregious being Quincy Mauger’s end-zone interception of Drew Lock’s pass when Mizzou would have had a 35-yard field-goal try to make it 30-21 inside the final eight minutes. Surely there were some Smart defensive tweaks involved after a first half that saw Georgia yield 20 points and 343 yards. (Second-half totals: Seven points and 128 yards.) Had Jacob Eason’s pass on fourth-and-10 sailed over Isaiah McKenzie’s head, Smart’s team would have lost. But he’d still have outcoached Barry Odom, who twice declined to go for two after go-ahead touchdowns and would lose by one.
2. The good part for Georgia: Eason was mostly terrific. The not-so-good: The running game was not. Nick Chubb rushed for 143 yards in Todd Gurley’s stead when the Bulldogs played here in 2014. Chubb and Sony Michel together mustered an even 100 this night. (Chubb had 63 on 19 carries, Michel 37 on nine.) Once again, Georgia’s offensive line generated no real push, and the pass-blocking wasn’t stellar, either. Eason was sacked four times. Even if we give Missouri’s defense credit for being the best the Bulldogs have played to date, it won’t be the best for much longer. And they can’t rely on their rookie quarterback to save every day. (Well, can they?)
3. As nice as this victory feels, Georgia cannot see it as a confirmation of anything except that Eason isn’t apt to be rattled on the road. Missouri has won one SEC game since 2014, when it astonished us all by winning the East for a second consecutive season. It’s hard to imagine the Tigers, who’ve already lost twice, breaking .500. That they pushed the Bulldogs to the limit tells us that Georgia has issues. That Georgia won anyway suggests that it’s resourceful enough to overcome those issues, and how long has it been since the Bulldogs could be deemed resourceful? On the contrary, they were the team that kept finding ways to lose the inexplicable game. That could have happened here. It didn’t.