COLUMBIA , MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs hands the ball off to running back Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs during their game against the Missouri Tigers in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, but as an homage to my favorite in-season series at SBN, it just hit me that I should be doing the same for Mizzou games.
169. Yards gained in 15 passes targeting Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington, a lovely per-target average of 11.3 yards. The duo caught eight passes and scored two touchdowns as the downfield complements to Mizzou's attempted horizontal passing game. James Franklin's other 26 passes gained just 100 yards (3.8 per target); Georgia tackled ridiculously well near the line of scrimmage, limiting both Mizzou's short passing game and the run game.
48.0. As mentioned in the links post, this was Georgia's average starting field position in the second half. Even worse: in the four Georgia drives that decided the game in the fourth quarter, their average start was Mizzou's 34-yard line, and that's with a Georgia drive starting at their own 8. But they scored 17 points on drives that started at Mizzou's 1, 5, and 38, and that decided the game.
17.5. Point value, in terms of equivalent points (discussed here), of Mizzou's three turnovers. In the second quarter, a terrible exchange between James Franklin and Kendial Lawrence ended a drive that could have resulted in at least a field goal. In the fourth, Jarvis Jones picked off Franklin and returned it to the 1, then forced a fumble that was eventually recovered by Jordan Jenkins at the Mizzou 5. That'll do it.
14. Combined carries given to Mizzou running backs Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy. FIRE YOST, et cetera, but clearly Mizzou saw something early in the game that suggested they didn't think they could run the ball effectively with their base running plays. Perhaps it was because they thought they could be more effective keeping the running backs lined up as wideouts and spreading the defense out? Perhaps it was simply that they didn't think their patchwork offensive line could open up running lanes? Regardless, the two ended up actually doing well on a per-carry basis -- Murphy had six for 43, Lawrence eight for 41 -- though much of that came when Georgia had already opened up a fourth-quarter lead.
11. Yards Mizzou apparently expected to pick up by not only attempting a fake punt in the fourth quarter, and not only by running Trey Barrow, but by running Trey Barrow wide. I actually don't hate the thought of a fake punt in those circumstances, but ... I do have some serious problems with running Barrow wide and expecting to pick up more than two or three yards. (Obvious admission: I guess we don't technically know the play was supposed to go wide; it could have just been forced wide by poor blocking.) Barrow was pretty easily corralled by Sheldon Dawson after three yards, and if Dawson didn't get him, three or four other guys would have by the time he got 11 yards. The blocking wasn't great, but I just don't see how that would have succeeded in any universe. Decent thought, terrible play-call. I don't know what they saw that made them think that was a good idea. Even if they had numbers to that side of the field, I'm not sure that matters when your punter is supposed to run 11 yards (after running double-digit yards just to get to the line of scrimmage).
10. Passes targeting both Georgia's Marlon Brown and Missouri's Gahn McGaffie. E.J. Gaines limited the opportunities Georgia's No. 1 receiver Tavarres King saw, but Georgia did an outstanding job of identifying that Brown, a former four-star recruit but only an on-and-off contributor through the years, was being covered mostly by either Mizzou linebackers or much smaller corner Randy Ponder (who did not have a very good game). Aaron Murray threw 10 passes Brown's way (he was targeted just 29 times in the 2011 season), and Brown caught eight for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He was the biggest difference maker in the game not named Jarvis Jones. McGaffie, meanwhile, was targeted just three times all season last year but seemed like part of the gameplan from the start. James Franklin started throwing his way early in the game and kept doing so, but with little payoff. McGaffie caught just five of 10 passes for 34 yards. Let's put it this way: a per-target average of 6.8 yards is pretty mediocre. Half of that? Pretty poor.
8.0. Tackles by Will Ebner, including one behind the line of scrimmage (a fantastic snuffing-out of a third-down screen pass to Todd Gurley in the second quarter). He was outstanding, as was much of Mizzou's front seven.
6. Categories Georgia's Jarvis Jones contributed to in the box score: tackles (6.5), tackles for loss (somehow only one), forced fumbles (one), interceptions (one), and passes broken up (one). He came within a yard of adding one more: touchdowns. Georgia fans predictably gave a mocking "Old Man Football" chant at the end of the game, but it wasn't the "old man" Georgia offense that made the biggest difference; it was the defensive playmakers.
4. Passes broken up by Georgia corners Branden Smith and Malcolm Mitchell, three of which came on passes to Lucas and Washington. Mizzou's downfield duo won some battles, but Smith and Mitchell prevented some more big gains with stellar aggressiveness.
3. By my count, the number of truly awful snaps on Mizzou's first two drives. Scripted plays tend to work a lot better when James Franklin doesn't have to leap to catch the snap.
2.5. Average points scored by Missouri in eight trips inside Georgia's 40-yard line. In Thursday's preview, I mentioned that Mizzou's red zone success was going to be a vital key in this game. If the Tigers were settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, it would going to seriously impact their chance to win. Well ... Mizzou attempted three field goals, and both of their touchdowns came on long touchdown passes. I would say that impacted their chance to win, huh?
2. Passes targeting Dorial Green-Beckham. As I expected, Mizzou lined DGB up wide, by himself, on a good number of passing downs. But Georgia kept a safety on DGB's side of the field, mostly negating the downfield jump-ball as a legitimate option. That's fine as long as Mizzou takes advantage of double-coverage on the other side of the field. For the most part, the Tigers did not.