White

Georgia running back Zamir White (3) during the Bulldogs’ game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. (Photo by Cassie Florido)

No. 9 Georgia leads No. 25 Missouri 21-14 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. Here are some observations from The Red & Black:

Wild end to second quarter

Georgia’s special teams play had been its one consistency through the first eight games of the season. That wasn’t the case in the first half against the Tigers.

After Kearis Jackson muffed a punt with under three minutes remaining in the half, the Bulldogs were more than fortunate for White to fall on it as there were multiple Tigers in the area. It was Jackson’s first real flounder of the season in the return game, but the crisis, at the time, was avoided.

The same can’t be said for punter Jake Camarda. After a three-and-out on Georgia’s next possession, Missouri’s Mason Pack blocked Camarda’s punt, with Will Norris recovering to set up the Tigers on Georgia’s 1-yard line.

Missouri running back Larry Rountree powered his way into the end zone two plays later, tying the game at 14 apiece.

But Georgia’s offense responded with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive immediately after. The drive took just 43 seconds of play and was capped off by quarterback JT Daniels’ 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver George Pickens, giving the Bulldogs the 21-14 halftime lead.

Daniels ended the half completing 10 of 17 pass attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Run Georgia run

Because of an interception by cornerback Eric Stokes on the game’s second play from scrimmage, Georgia took over for its first offensive possession on Missouri’s 23-yard line.

From there, it was clear Georgia wanted to test Missouri’s rush defense. It was also clear by the first snap to be the right decision.

All six plays on Georgia’s opening touchdown drive were runs, with the first four going to redshirt sophomore Zamir White and the final two going to sophomore Kenny McIntosh for his first touchdown of the season.

Not much changed thereafter. As a group, Georgia’s trio of White, McIntosh and junior James Cook finished the half with 17 rushing attempts for 83 yards and one touchdown. Cook even found the end zone as a pass catcher on a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback JT Daniels.

The Bulldogs rode the running game for a season-high 332 yards and four touchdowns in their 45-16 victory against South Carolina. Entering Saturday, Missouri’s defense was seventh in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 144.4 yards per contest.

Tigers spark offense with trick play

While the second play of the first quarter didn’t go in the Tigers’ favor, the second play of the second quarter certainly did.

A 29-yard pass from Missouri wide receiver Keke Chism to tight end Messiah Swinson set the Tigers up on Georgia’s 2-yard line, leading to a rushing touchdown by quarterback Connor Bazelak one play later. Bazelak’s rushing touchdown was his second this season and cut Georgia’s lead in half to 14-7.

Before then, Missouri had only tallied 71 yards of offense on 16 plays. The Tigers were trying to test a Georgia secondary still without senior safety Richard LeCounte but found little success.

Entering Saturday, Bazelak had 698 total passing yards and 86 pass attempts over Missouri’s previous two games. And it was working, as the Tigers scored 41 against Vanderbilt and 50 against Arkansas, but it wasn’t as effective against Georgia.

At the end of the first half, Bazelak completed 11 of 16 passes for 66 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception.

Bazelak briefly left the game on Missouri’s fourth drive of the game after colliding with Georgia’s Christopher Smith and Jordan Davis but returned to begin the next possession.