The Georgia offense can’t seem to catch a break.
One week after defeating Florida 24-17 on Nov. 2, the Bulldogs face the Missouri Tigers, who are No. 11 nationally in total defense, just three spots behind Georgia’s highly-praised defense.
An emotional win like the one against the Gators — ranked No. 6 in the country at the time — can’t linger in the minds of the Bulldogs, tight end Charlie Woerner said.
“It starts in practice, meetings [and] walkthroughs,” Woerner said. “As much as your body hurts, as much as you’re mentally drained, you just have to come out ready to practice at the beginning of the week to try to prepare yourself for Saturday. Because if you don’t do that, then you’re going to be slipping up.”
After a Week 1 loss to Wyoming, Missouri ascended to No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 thanks to a five-game winning streak before losing two consecutive games to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Even after the recent defeats, Missouri’s defense holds opponents to only 281.4 yards per game, good for second in the SEC. Georgia, first in the SEC allowing 268.1 yards per game, is the only other team in the conference to have given up less than 300 yards per game.
On top of that, Georgia is first in the SEC in rush defense, and Missouri is first in pass defense.
So, if the statistics mean anything, the two teams could be in for a defensive battle. Some of that is by design. Like Kirby Smart, Missouri head coach Barry Odom is a former defensive coordinator and played on defense during the late 1990s for the team he currently coaches.
“They have done a good job every year [Odom has] been there,” Smart said. “They [have] an aggressive style. They load the box on you. They make you play one-dimensional.”
Smart likes to pick Odom’s brain when they are around each other.
“We always study what they do because we are always trying to get better,” Smart said. “[But] we are not like philosophically built the same as them. Yeah, stop the run, don’t let them score, don’t give up big plays, turnovers, we are all the same there. But schematically, they are different from us.”
All three of the Tigers’ losses have come on the road. Saturday’s matchup will come under the lights in Sanford Stadium, but Smart doesn’t pay attention to things like that.
“The bottom line is I know the football team they have,” Smart said. “I know the coaching staff they have. I know the players they have, and I can watch the tape and know they have got a really physical football team.”