COLUMBIA, Mo.- Georgia’s matchup with Missouri on Saturday was expected to be an offensive shootout, and in the end, it was.
Both offenses faltered early in the first half, but ultimately, 72 total points were scored. For perhaps the first time this season, the Georgia defense appeared human, allowing the Missouri offense to be effective both in the air and on the ground.
The Tigers accumulated 221 passing yards and 172 rushing yards in the game. While Drew Lock and the Missouri passing game were the focus going into the game, it was the Missouri run game that put the points on the board, as all four Missouri touchdowns were scored on the ground. Running backs Larry Rountree, Damarea Crockett and Tyler Badie each scored touchdowns for the Tigers. Drew Lock contributed to the rushing effort as well, putting a fourth rushing touchdown on the board with an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
When asked about the performance of the defense, senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker expressed disappointment regarding the run defense in particular.
“It’s bad on our end, because we should have never let somebody run in to score on our defense,” Walker said.
Prior to Saturday, the Georgia defense had not yet allowed a rushing touchdown on the season. The most rushing yards it had allowed in a game was 158 against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 15. Against then No. 24-ranked South Carolina, the Georgia run defense looked unbeatable, allowing just 20 rushing yards in the game.
Saturday was a different story, though, as the Tigers finished with 172 rushing yards on 37 attempts in the game and nearly out gained Georgia on the ground.
Missouri had scored just four rushing touchdowns on the season before Saturday. Against Georgia, the Tigers matched that total in one game.
“I thought that they were gonna struggle to run the ball,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “We pride ourselves on not allowing people to run the ball in.”
The success of the Missouri run game did not ultimately matter much, as the Georgia offense came to life in the second half, scoring three touchdowns to put the game away. Georgia ultimately out gained Missouri on the ground in the fourth quarter after struggling to run the ball well early on.
However, Saturday's game showed a lot about Georgia run defense, which had dominated through three games this season. The performance of Georgia’s run defense against Missouri could present some concern for the future. Missouri’s greatest strengths are in its passing game, as the Tigers had tallied 1167 receiving yards on the season before Saturday compared to just 600 rushing yards.
However, Georgia will face teams with more dominant run games down the road, and Saturday’s performance showed that the Bulldogs' run defense could be more vulnerable than was previously thought.
“If you told me what’s the one most disappointing thing? That they were able to run the ball,” Smart said. “Especially in the low red area. I mean, it’s one thing to run it in the field, but they ran the ball in the low red area, which is concerning for us, because that’s not who we are.”