The Dawgs are efficient
“The biggest thing about this offense is they are so efficient,” defensive coordinator Blake Baker emphasized.
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was largely labeled as a game-manager in his first two seasons of college. That is no longer the case. Bennett has started his senior campaign by throwing for 1,224 yards, 5 touchdowns and just one interception. That’s good for an 89.4 QBR (7th in the country). The nation has taken notice, and Missouri is no different.
“He’s (Bennett) like a coach on the field, he is so efficient,” Baker said. “As soon as the ball is coming to him, he knows where he wants to go with the it. He’s able to work through his progressions and is very smart with the ball. He’ll be one of the smartest quarterbacks we play all season.”
Bennett is not the only threat on the Georgia offense. Tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington have been matchup nightmares for teams all season.
“They utilize both of those guys in so many creative ways,” Baker said. When asked if he has seen any other teams use guys of that size in the ways UGA does, Baker bluntly responded with the one and only Kansas City Chiefs.
The Bulldogs are averaging 42.2 points per game and 531.5 yards per game.
Slow starts but fast finishes
Much like the Missouri defense’s other performances this season, they started out slow against Auburn. The other Tigers scored on their first two drives of the game, and Robby Ashford and Tank Bigsby seemed poised to have a big day running the ball.
“Tackling, tackling,” Coach Baker emphasized. “Our opening drives and our tackling have not been good. We have not started fast with tackling.”
Then the Mizzou defense did what they’ve done every other game; they adjusted. The Tigers did not allow another point until overtime, and they limited Bigsby to 7 rushing yards after the first quarter.
“I’ve never doubted our ability to bow our neck in the face of adversity,” Baker said. “I don’t feel like we’re ever out of the fight.”
The defense held Auburn to 217 total yards, forced two fumbles, and nearly had an interception in overtime.
“Get back into it, don’t let it phase us,” linebacker Dameon Wilson said regarding the team’s mindset after being down early. “Just make plays.”
Kristian Williams agreed, citing that the team stuck together and trusted each other, and that led to them causing the “havoc” that they so often preach in the locker room.
With a new defensive coordinator in Blake Baker came a new defensive system this offseason. Among other things, the STAR position was introduced to this defense, and it has been a success according to the players.
“The STAR position really just suits everything about me,” Dylan Carnell said. “Being able to cover, being able to play in the box, it makes things simple so I can just play. It’s just like practice.”
Carnell and Martez Manuel generally rotate into the STAR role for this defense. However, the new scheme has been a benefit for many players.
“I love his scheme because it helps me play free and fast,” safety Joseph Charleston said. “His scheme helps athletic DBs play athletic, which makes us play instinctually.”
As a result, this defense has improved every single week.
“Our confidence each week has gone up, especially our confidence and comfort level with the scheme,” Charleston said.