Georgia took advantage of five Missouri turnovers, and 210 rushing yards, including 143 yards and 1 TD on 38 carries from freshman running back Nick Chubb.
“We’re not scaring anyone with our down field passing game,” surmised Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt, following his team’s dominant win over Missouri. “But, our formula is working, so we keep pounding away.”
Georgia outgained Missouri 379 yards to 147 yards.
And, Georgia owned a decisive 5-0 turnover margin at Missouri. The Bulldogs ran 87 offensive plays to Missouri’s 43.
“Obviously, I’m remarkably disappointed,” said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “It’s about execution. And obviously, we’re struggling now. And then, you turn the ball over five times. I don’t remember in my career ever turning the ball over five times. You know, that magnifies things tremendously, and also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your defense. So, a combination of all of those things, and obviously, it wasn’t a very good day.”
Missouri starting quarterback Maty Mauk struggled mightily. He couldn’t have been much more inconsistent, in finishing 9-21-4 for 97 yards. He looks to have regressed since earlier in the season. In addition to the 4 interceptions, at least 2 of which were all on him, he also fumbled the football just as he was attempting to pass the ball from within the pocket. Maybe Mauk should have stepped up in the pocket, as Georgia DE Leonard Floyd came around the edge and tipped the football, but that one was more on the right tackle, Taylor Chappell, who was beaten at the snap.
“Generally, we’ve been very good with (turnover margin),” said Coach Pinkel. “But, you lose the turnover battle five to zero, and most likely, you don’t have a chance to beat anybody.”
Actually, the Missouri defense played pretty well, especially the defensive line, led by Harold Brantley. But Missouri was beaten for critical yardage on the perimeter, where Georgia QB Hutson Mason (22-28-0 for 156 yards and 1 TD) was able to find his slot receiver wide open under a big cushion for critical pass completions, and Chubb and fellow RB Brendan Douglas (13 carries for 65 yards and 1 TD) were able to take advantage when the Missouri LBs got sucked inside and failed to seal the edge in containment.
From the beginning, hardly anything went right for the Tigers. After Missouri failed to move the football, Georgia fed Missouri a full helping of Nick Chubb, as the freshman RB had 8 touches on an 11-play 45-yard Bulldog drive that resulted in a 47-yard field goal. The Missouri defense had stiffened closer to the goal line.
Georgia set up shop at the Missouri 47-yard line. Four plays later, on third and 9 from the Missouri 32-yard line, Harold Brantley sacked Hutson Mason for a 12-yard loss, and Georgia was forced to punt.
Missouri took over at their own 18-yard line. On second and 4 from the Missouri 24-yard line, Mauk missed connection with Marcus Murphy on a bubble screen that Murphy deflected to Georgia’s Damian Swann.
Georgia took possession at the Missouri 25-yard line. Seven plays later, including four more touches by Chubb, Georgia settled for a 29-yard field goal.
Trailing by 6 late in the 1st quarter, Mauk found J’Mon Moore out along the right side for a screen, and the red-shirt freshman burst up the sideline for 17 yards and a first down. On the ensuing third down, Mauk had Sasser open over the middle just beyond the first down marker, but he didn’t appear to see him. Instead, he held the ball and ended up scrambling for his life.
Georgia took over at their own 29-yard line and went on a 13-play 71-yard drive that put the Bulldogs up 13-0 with 10:57 remaining in the half. Mason faked the hand-off to Chubb on a zone read play from the 11-yard line, and took it around the edge untouched. Missouri outside linebacker Donavin Newsom went inside to tackle Chubb in the backfield, and lost leverage on the play, giving Mason a clear path to the end zone. Braylon Webb came over and stripped Mason just as he got the ball to the goal line.
After a Missouri three and out, Georgia put together a 10-play 65-yard TD drive. Missouri was doing a better job of stopping the run, so Georgia started to vary their attack. Mason found Michael Bennett and Malcom Mitchell twice apiece for short passes near the sideline on this drive, including a fade to Bennett in the back right corner of the end zone from 9 yards out. On the TD reception, Bennett beat the Missouri safety, Ian Simon, so badly, Simon wasn’t even able to make a play on the football. Another big play on this drive was an 18-yard gain by Chubb on second and 11 from midfield, an off-tackle run on which Darvin Ruise took an inside gap and lost containment.
Mason was repeatedly able to find his slot receivers open on short out routes toward the sideline to facilitate moving the chains. Missouri’s coverage on those slot receivers was soft, and the Georgia outside receiver would take the corner on a deeper route to open up the underneath route to the sideline. From where they were lined up at the beginning of the play, there was no way the Missouri nickel back or LB could prevent a completion for a first down on those routes.
Late in the first half, just when it appeared that Missouri might be getting something going offensively, Mauk stood calmly in the pocket and started to loft the ball down field. That’s when Floyd came around the edge and dislodged the football, and Georgia recovered the fumble near midfield.
Georgia led 20-0 at the half. Georgia had out-gained Missouri 197 yards to 76 yards in the first half. Missouri was 0-for-5 on third downs in the first half. Mauk was 5-13-2 for 51 yards in the first half. Through the first 30 minutes, the Georgia defense had controlled the line of scrimmage. On the other side of the ball, the Missouri defense had stood up pretty well, except for a few critical mistakes.
The Missouri defense got a stop to open the 2nd half, and Mauk and the Tigers appeared to have something going. Jimmie Hunt had repeatedly been open over the middle, and Mauk found Hunt on a slant for 24 yards and a first down at the Georgia 42-yard line. Missouri hurried to the line of scrimmage and snapped the football, and ran the same play. Again, Hunt was open, but this time, he deflected the on-target pass to Mauger for his second interception of the day.
Missouri got the ball back at their own 16-yard line with 9:07 remaining in the 3rd quarter, and Mauk and the Tigers started to move the ball. On second and 8 from the Georgia 39-yard line, Mauk scrambled out to his left and attempted to throw the ball back across his body. I’m not sure who it was intended for, but he threw it right to Georgia DB Dominick Sanders for his fifth turnover of the day.
“Georgia’s a very good football team, and they played well,” said Coach Pinkel. “I think you give them credit.”
“Half the season is left,” continued Coach Pinkel. “There’s a lot out there, but we’ve got to get some things fixed! There’s the urgency of getting things fixed and playing better.”