No. 13 Georgia is tied with Mississippi State 17-17 at halftime in an SEC East-West crossover in Sanford Stadium. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:
Methodical Mississippi State
Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers put together a healthy first drive for his Bulldogs, going 9 of 11 for 63 yards and converting his first three attempts on third down.
The Bulldogs from Starkville, Mississippi, made it all the way to Georgia’s 4-yard line before they were forced to attempt a 22-yard field goal from Brandon Ruiz.
Rogers passed on 11 of Mississippi State’s 15 plays of the first drive, executing a short pass attack against a depleted Georgia defense riddled by injuries. Mississippi State’s first drive burned 8:06 off the clock, went 71 yards in 15 plays and put their Bulldogs on top first at 3-0.
Rogers continued to barrage the Georgia defense with short passes in the second quarter, putting together another long drive that resulted in a lead-regaining touchdown. Mississippi State’s second scoring drive went 75 yards in 14 plays and ticked 7:04 off the clock.
Mississippi State’s next touchdown didn’t come off the same short pass attack, taking its 17-10 halftime lead thanks to a 51-yard Rogers pass to Jaden Walley with less than 1:30 left in the half.
With the methodology of its consistent air raid attack, Mississippi State ended up beating Georgia in time of possession 18:58 to 11:02 in the first half. Rogers ended the first two quarters going 24-of-29 for 210 yards, and Mississippi State outgained Georgia by 30 yards (241-211) at halftime.
Welcome to Sanford Stadium, JT Daniels
Saturday night saw Georgia debut a new starting quarterback, Southern California transfer JT Daniels.
Daniels, who hasn’t started a game since USC’s season opener in 2019 due to an ACL tear, has been running the scout team throughout much of 2020, earning the start after rough showings from Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis against Florida two weeks ago.
Daniels’ first drive was far from perfect. Mississippi State forced Georgia to punt to end its first drive after linebacker Aaron Brule nearly intercepted Daniels and helped to sack him in two consecutive plays.
Georgia’s second possession was much more fruitful, with Daniels leading the charge for an 11-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a perfectly placed 4-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens that helped Georgia gain a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Daniels flashed an explosive ceiling, completing a 49-yard pass to Jermaine Burton in the second quarter, but he still stalled out and forced Georgia to a 41-yard Jack Podlesny field goal attempt. Daniels finished the half going 13 of 17 for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Jermaine Burton’s emergence, George Pickens’ return
Burton, a freshman wide receiver, had great chemistry with Daniels on Saturday night, catching all seven of his targets for 149 yards, earning more receiving yards than he had accumulated in his first six games combined (130).
In Georgia’s game-tying possession just before halftime, Burton caught two pivotal receptions for a total of 64 yards to help drive the Bulldogs from Athens to the end zone.
Pickens, meanwhile, played in his first game since Georgia’s Oct. 17 loss to Alabama with plenty of important catches. He caught five passes for 56 yards in the first half.