The Georgia Bulldogs were favored by about 30 points entering its game against Missouri on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium in Athens. Less than four minutes into the second quarter, the No. 4 Bulldogs were in a fight for their lives, the score tied 21-21.
At that point, the Dogs’ run game woke from its slumber and Georgia rolled to a 53-28 victory against the Tigers.
Georgia improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC.
Here are five observations from the game:
Fromm leads an early role reversal.
Quarterback Jake Fromm was used to the running game carrying the offense during the first six games, but the freshman gave Georgia an early spark Saturday. Before the run game got going, Fromm was 9-of-12 passing over three drives for 142 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a 185.2 rating. (The Dogs had 38 yards rushing at the point.)
In the first half, Fromm was 16-of-21 passing for 250 yards and one touchdown and a passer rating of 182.4. The low point of the half for Fromm was an interception deep in his own territory with 7:28 to play in the first quarter. That set up a first-and-goal at the Georgia 5, which Missouri turned into its first touchdown of the game two plays later, one that matched Georgia’s first touchdown and tied the score at 7-7.
Fromm finished 18-of-26 passing for 326 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 192.2 passer rating.
Also of note, backup Jacob Eason did not play. (And Fromm attempted one pass in the fourth quarter, a 59-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman with 10:27 left to play in the game.)
Secondary struggles lead to touchdowns.
The score was tied 21-21 with 11:34 to play in the second quarter. That score chiefly was the result of two 63-yard touchdown passes from Missouri quarterback Drew Lock to Emanuel Hall on consecutive possessions, the first with 34 seconds to play in the first quarter and again with 11:34 to play in the second. Take those two plays out of the equation, and Missouri gained 74 yards on the other 22 first-half plays, 27 rushing and 47 receiving.
Also, Mizzou’s final touchdown came on a 27-yard pass play when receiver Jason Reese got behind Georgia’s secondary for the long gain.
Missouri finished with 312 total yards on 49 plays, an average of 6.4 yards. The 126 yards on two plays from Lock to Hall inflated the numbers and skewed an otherwise-decent performance by the defense. Without those, Mizzou gained 186 yards on 47 plays, an average of 3.96 yards per play.
Georgia’s run game starts slowly, picks up steam.
Before the Bulldogs finally began to run through Mizzou’s defense, the run game looked unusually weak for the first three possessions.
At that point, the Bulldogs led 14-7, but the lead was courtesy of the passing game. Georgia had rushed for 38 yards on seven carries, and one of those carries was a 35-yard touchdown run by Hardman on a reverse. The other six carries produced three yards.
The tide turned that that point and at halftime, Georgia had 157 yards rushing on 24 carries. The Dogs finished with 370 yards on 51 carries, an average of 7.3 yards per play. D’Andre Swift led the rushers with 94 yards on six carries. He gained 71 on one play, and he had a 36-yard run taken away because of an illegal-formation penalty. Sony Michel rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, and Nick Chubb gained 70 on 16 carries.
A sophomore wide receiver, who converted from defensive back this spring and who was a high school quarterback, struggled with dropped passes in the first half of the season. He looked considerably more comfortable in the role of receiver Saturday.
In addition to his 35-yard touchdown run, he caught a 59-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. He caught another pass for 12 yards.
Georgia led in time of possession 39:26 to 20:24 and gained 696 total yards (the second most in a game in school history) on 77 plays, an average of 9.0 yards per play. Georgia had 24 first downs to Mizzou’s 10. The Dogs were 6-of-6 scoring in the red zone and are 29-of-29 this season.