Know, Think and Don't Know: Missouri Game

ATHENS - Dean Legge’s list of what we know, what we think we know, and what we know we do not know.

What we know

Georgia’s game with Missouri is as big as it gets. The winner of the game will have a solid hold on the East, and a game up on the other. Vanderbilt and South Carolina, with three or more losses each, are pretty well done. Tennessee is now chasing both Florida and Georgia, and it seems the Vols will eat at least one more loss with games at Ole Miss and vs. Alabama. Tennessee is hoping for everyone to still lose, but the reality is that the Vols are likely done as well. They had to beat the Gators.

Meanwhile Kentucky is hanging around at 4-1. The Cats are chasing Florida, but are still very much in the race. They host Georgia, but will have to upset Mississippi State and LSU in order to have a real shot of winning the division. The perplexing loss at Florida earlier in the year has cost them their margin or error.

But undefeated Missouri, one-loss Florida and one-loss Georgia control their own destinies… at least for now. The Gators host LSU Saturday night and then greet Missouri in the Swamp the following week. Amazingly, Florida could grab a hold of the East in two weeks if they can win both of those games and if Georgia loses to the Tigers.

Even with the fluid nature of the East (and the SEC in general), this is a must-win game for Georgia. Its an odd location for a must-win game during a season - both in terms of location and position on the schedule. Georgia is only four games into the SEC season, but chasing Missouri the rest of the season with games at Kentucky, at Arkansas, vs. Auburn and vs. the Gators seems like a lot to ask.

What we don’t know

Which Missouri team will show up. Is is the team that was ridiculed across the conference for losing to Indiana (3-2), but followed that up with a bizarre win at South Carolina. Insiders say the the Tigers are ver susceptible to the interior run game - Indiana rammed the Tigers for 241 yards rushing.

But Missouri was resilient enough the next week to allow South Carolina to only have 119 yards rushing. Missouri has, quite frankly, played a little better on the road than at home… for whatever that’s worth. They are also not quite as explosive as they were last season. In the first five games of the 2013 season the Tigers scored over 40 points four times. They’ve only scored over 40 once this year. They’ve scored under 30 twice - both in their last two games against Big Five conference opponents.

What we think we know

Todd Gurley is going to be able to run on Missouri. He’s run on everyone this season - the Tigers should be no different. Missouri is allowing 144 yards per game on the ground. Georgia has played Clemson, South Carolina, Troy, Tennessee and Vanderbilt this season. In each game the Bulldogs have run for more yards than that team allowed on average this season - most times by a very, very wide magin.

Georgia’s strength appears to be going right at the Tigers’ weakness.

What we think we know

Maty Mauk is an average runner - until the fourth quarter. That’s when he turns it on. Although Mauk has only attempted a run seven times this season in the fourth quarter he’s been pretty darn tutin’ good when he takes off. He’s averaging 7.6 yards a run on fourth-quarter runs with a long of 25. Even if you take away his long run in that quarter he’s still averaging about 4.7 yards per rush in the fourth. That’s something to watch late in the game.

What we don’t know

Just how much Brice Ramsey will play in Columbia. The Bulldogs have not had good quarterback play in the last two weeks. Hutson Mason has been too shaky with the protection of the ball, but Ramsey missed to wide open passes against Vanderbilt. That could have been nerves, but he needs to settle down and just play - same goes for Mason.

The quarterbacks are better than they are playing right now. On the Ramsey front that’s because he’s really never played before. He’s going to be special. For Mason, its time to just be yourself and let it go.

Fans are disappointed - so what?

Be you.

The program is still pointed at a collation course with the winner of the demolition derby that is the SEC West. Mason was playing just fine when he was protecting the ball in the first three games of the season. He needs to get back to that while Ramsey needs to continue to play and hit easy targets.

What we know

Georgia hasn’t beaten a ranked team on the road since 2011, and Missouri hasn’t beaten at team ranked in the top 15 at home since 2010. Also, only once since 2002 have the Tigers won back-to-back games against ranked foes. That came last season with wins over No. 24 Ole Miss and No. 19 Texas A&M.

With the win over No. 13 South Carolina and Georgia ranked 13th and the Tigers ranked 23rd coming into the game something is going to budge in this matchup of ranked teams.

What we think we know

Justin Scott-Wesley will play this week. We think we know that. But if Malcolm Mitchell’s appearance last week was an indication that doesn’t mean JSW will play a ton. Mitchell said after last week’s win over Vanderbilt that he was only supposed to be out there for a little bit.

“I just wanted to get my feet wet, so we scheduled five or 10 plays just to see how it felt,” Mitchell said after the game “It felt good.”

Expect Mitchell to get out there more often in this week. JSW is a bit of a mystery.

What we don’t know

If this team is consistent enough as a team to win a championship. There are times the offense has been bad, but its not common. There are times the defense has been killer, but its not common. Like pretty much everyone in the world, Georgia is trying to put one foot in front of there other enough times to win football games. If they can do that everything else in terms of the national and conference race will take care of itself.

But the two weaknesses, both in the passing game, of this team have taken turns giving its fans heartburn. Georgia’s pass defense does seem to have gotten better in terms of what we are watching on the field. But they will get a solid test this weekend from Missouri’s high-flying circus. Even if the secondary can get a little better each week (and that’s really not possible because in sports things come and go - you don’t get better each week… that’s just a saying), or improve from the start of the season to the end they will be in Atlanta.

Again, the magnitude of this game can’t be underscored. There is a very clear path to Atlanta that involves stopping the run - something Georgia does perfectly fine - from here on out. Georgia’s defense might not be lights out, but they’ve delivered some knockout punches here lately. Remember Damian Swann’s pick to set Georgia up at the South Carolina four-yard line? Remember Josh Dawson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown? Remember Devin Bowman’s pick six against Vanderbilt?

The defense is stepping up… and in big moments. The defense has gone from making big plays to stop the other team to making big plays to score or set up scores… and that is a sign of a championship team.

If you want to win your team has to make plays when you need them to make them. There is no luck - you have to make plays happen for you. HD Video: Ramsey Post-Game Vanderbilt
HD Video: Mason Post-Game Vanderbilt
Mitchell "Felt Great" Saturday
Mason Hopes to Recover

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