Sometimes the most frustrating losses are in the games that tease you into think you have a chance. Georgia was justifiably a double-digit favorite heading into Saturday night's game against Missouri, but the Tiger defense played heroic ball, holding the Dawgs to 298 yards (a paltry 3.9 per play) and nine points. And an Ian Simon pick even set Missouri's offense up at the 1 on the first play of the game.
But that possession resulted in just a field goal, and two other scoring chances resulted in just three points for the Tiger offense, and Georgia escaped with a 9-6 win. Missouri failed to reach the end zone for the second straight game, and in the end the Tiger defense was left to rue missed opportunities, namely a handful of missed tackles and four dropped interceptions. Combined with a muffed punt by Cam Hilton and a super-shaky pass interference call on Georgia's game-winning drive (Aaron Penton most definitely put his hands on Malcolm Mitchell, but the pass was way out of bounds and uncatchable), that was enough to get the job done.
Mizzou had some calls go against it late, but ... holy moly, this offense. This is "1995 Missouri" bad, only I'm pretty sure Corby Jones' first offensive line was about 10x better than this one.
Russell Hansbrough looked as close to 100% as he has all year, and he finished with 11 carries for 24 yards. Long rush: five yards. Ish Witter added six carries for 15, and that included a gain on a draw play in which he had to make his first move before he had secured the ball. Drew Lock had no time to throw for the entire second half, and really the entire game aside from one drive in the second quarter.
The offense and the line were so bad that I haven't even had time to mention how horrific Mizzou's kick return unit is.
Georgia's defense quite obviously had something to do with this, but to say the least, this is part of a trend. I have no explanation for why the line, with four senior starters, is this bad. It's worse than it was early last season, when it was actually a relatively inexperienced unit. And it's such a damn shame because this defense was once again outstanding: eight tackles for loss, seven passes defensed, countless nice tackles on Georgia's sideline passing game, and only a few running lanes up the middle. Georgia's Sony Michel looked pretty good and finished with only 87 yards in 26 carries.
Never mind this season. I figure Mizzou probably figures out how to win two more games and go bowling, though that obviously isn't set in stone. (Losing next week to Vanderbilt might end those hopes.) But next year's Missouri team is going to feature a more experienced Drew Lock, a skill position corps with actual experience, an incredible defensive line, two experienced linebackers, Aarion Penton, Anthony Sherrils, Corey Fatony, etc. But it's actually going to lose four starters on this line. Next year's line almost can't be worse, but there's no guarantee it will be better. And the rest of this team could be ready to play at a very high level.
I have no idea what the answers are, but the questions are crystal clear. You deserve better, D.