On Saturday night, the #7 Georgia Bulldogs tangle with the Missouri Tigers in MU’s SEC debut at Faurot Field. I wrote about my thoughts on the critical success factors for the game over at Leather Helmet Blog, so I won’t repeat that here. This game has the makings to be a classic clash of styles and is likely not to be decided until the 4th quarter. This game is big enough that Delta has scheduled one flight directly into Columbia for the Bulldog Nation to give Missouri fans a taste of how serious SEC football fans are.
When Missouri Has the Ball
In my early preview, I mentioned that James Franklin scares the heck out of me with his ability to make plays when protection breaks down or with the spread option package. While no one outside the program knows if Alec Ogletree is making the trip, we need someone with his skills to be able to run with Franklin. If we’re able to collapse the pocket and keep Franklin from escaping to make plays with his legs, we should be OK. If not, we’re going to be in trouble. I think we’re going to give up yardage, but our challenge will be to manage our ability to get off the field on 3rd down. If our front 7 can control Franklin, I’m confident in our ability to limit the number of scoring opportunities for the Tigers.
When Georgia Has the Ball
While I’m not a big proponent of offensive balance purely for the sake of balance, I do believe we have to prove that we can run and pass effectively especially on early downs. That’s going to require two things on offense that we didn’t see much of in last week’s game: Tight end involvement in the passing game and attacking the middle of the field with the short to intermediate passing game. If we have to stay in maximum protection to cover for offensive line deficiencies, we will find tough sledding in forcing Missouri to defend the width of the field because their safeties will be able to play over the top rather than coming down to provide run support or in deep cover 2 on our outside receivers. While Tavarres King had a big game last Saturday, I expect Michael “White Lightning” Bennett will be the receiver who needs to have a big game.
What Will Happen
While I hope to see this game no longer in doubt late with the Dawgs ahead, this game is likely to go deep into the 4th quarter. The game really comes down to whether the Missouri offense or Georgia defense is able to impose its will on the other. If one unit is able to do that consistently, the game may not be as close as everyone thinks. Missouri is going to get their yards and points, but right now, I think the Junkyard Dawgs make one more play to get the job done to survive and advance.
Final Score: Georgia 31, Missouri 27