Well, here we go. It’s Georgia week.
This is by far the biggest game of Drew Lock and Barry Odom’s careers to date, as Missouri faces the daunting task of upsetting the second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
Georgia is favored by a whopping 15.5 points (although that could change come kickoff) against the Tigers Saturday. It’s hard to imagine any team can outscore Missouri enough to win by more than two touchdowns, but the Bulldogs have one of the most electric offenses in football.
Led by star sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, Georgia’s offense is scary good — I’m talking 135 points in three games good (45 ppg). While a 31st ranking in offensive yards per game (488.3 ypg) may not be staggering, they excel at finishing off drives.
The Bulldogs have scored 13 of 14 times in the Red Zone and rank seventh in the country in points per play. Those two stats indicate this team rarely turns the ball over and converts the majority of its drives into points.
That’s not good news for a Missouri defense that gave up 37 points to an 0-3 Purdue team last week.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Bulldogs boast the nation’s most accurate passer in Fromm.
The sophomore — who broke onto the scene as a true freshman leading his team to an overtime loss in the National Championship last year — has completed an insane 80.4 percent of his passes this season. He also ranks fifth in passing efficiency with a rating of 206.6
What’s scary is he’s still not the best player on Georgia’s offense.
Similar to their running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel a season ago, the Bulldogs boast one of the best one-two running back punches in football — this year headed by junior Elijah Holyfield and sophomore D’Andre Swift.
The two play very similar games, although Holyfield relies a bit more on a physical running style than Swift, who relies more on speed and elusiveness. Holyfield has ran for 200 yards on 22 carries (9.1 yd avg) for two touchdowns, while Swift has carried the ball 24 times for 119 yards (5.0 yd avg) for a pair of scores. Interestingly, Swift saw a career high in rushing yards against the Tigers last season, running for 94 yards in a 53-28 blowout victory.
In order to stop Georgia’s offense, Missouri will have to start with shutting down the run. Fromm has only thrown the ball 46 times this year (15.3 passes per game) and ranks 89th in the country in passing yards per game (159.7 ypg).
Although he’s sat out every fourth quarter thus far and has been unbelievably efficient, he’s not the focal point of their offense. The Bulldogs’ stout ground game has set Fromm up to succeed, as Holyfield and Swift bring in the linebackers, opening up 10 to 15 yard routes.
Shutting down Georgia’s ground attack is feasible, as Missouri has an incredibly experienced front seven. Terry Beckner Jr, Brandon Lee and Terez Hall are all NFL prospects, and have been essential to the Tigers slowing down the opposition’s run game. If they can continue their solid play, it’s possible Holyfield and Swift can be held at bay.
Another key to stopping the Georgia offense is getting pressure on Fromm and making him uncomfortable in the pocket. Missouri’s secondary looked shoddy at best against Purdue, as David Blough set the school record for passing yards in a game with 572.
Mind you, Drew Brees played in an up-tempo offense while he attended Purdue.
That being said, the Tigers’ secondary is far-and-away the team’s biggest weakness. In order to counter their play and make life easier for them, Missouri will have to put pressure on Fromm to make quick decisions and roll out of the pocket. This would in turn make sure he never settles into a groove and ultimately, give Drew Lock a chance to get into a fair offensive shootout.
This game won’t be won by Lock, though. Even if he throws for five touchdowns and over 400 yards, Missouri’s only real hope of beating Georgia depends on how much they can slow down Kirby Smart’s offense.