By Garrett Shearman:
Judging by the scoreline, it was obvious that Nick Chubb never touched the field. Georgia crawled to a 9-6 victory over division opponent Missouri in the first real night name of 2015.
In the first game since sustaining a season-ending knee injury, the former starter Chubb watched Saturday’s game against Missouri from the sideline as Sony Michel took over the vacant starting position. What he saw wasn’t terribly impressive.
Michel amassed 87 yards on 26 carries and led the team in rushing, making Saturday the first game Georgia has played in all of 2015 without a 100-yard rusher. Keith Marshall added 5 attempts for 24 yards, and Brendan Douglas matched Marshall’s yardage on nine carries. Big plays were nowhere to be found; the longest run of the day was a 12-yard carry by Marshall. The Dawgs totaled 120 yards on the ground.
Georgia’s passing game had issues capturing momentum as well, with starting quarterback Greyson Lambert completing 23 of his 32 pass attempts for only 178 yards, with one interception. The screen game was relatively unsuccessful as missed blocks led to negative yardage on multiple occasions. Lambert’s favorite targets were Malcolm Mitchell, who finished with seven receptions for 49 yards, and true freshman Terry Godwin, who tallied six catches for 78 yards, including a 35-yard catch-and-run that would finish as the longest offensive play of the day.
Godwin also shined on special teams, where he shared punt return duties with Reggie Davis. Godwin returned three punts for 49 yards, helping the Dawgs obtain good field position when they needed it most. Elsewhere on special teams, Marshall Morgan hit three of his four fit goal attempts, which turned out to be enough to defeat Missouri’s notably slow offense.
The real story of the game for Georgia was the performance of the defense, who allowed only 6 points and 164 yards after a less-than-stellar performance against Tennessee last week. After an interception return on the very first play of the game gifted the Tigers the ball at the Bulldogs’ goal line, UGA’s ever-improving run defense drove the offense backward, forcing a field goal. Missouri would go on to rush for 1 total yard in the first half.
The Georgia pass rush put pressure on Mzzou quarterback Drew Lock all night, who finished with 143 yards on 11-for-26 passing. Missouri finished with only 21 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Jake Ganus led all UGA defenders with nine tackles, including a sack. Davin Bellamy, who started in place for the injured Jordan Jenkins, tallied six tackles and a sack of his own. Leonard Floyd finished with five tackles and a sack.
Though it should be noted that Missouri’s offense isn’t going to go setting any records this year, a defensive performance like this one for the Dawgs can do nothing but get them going in the right direction as the season progresses.
After the win Saturday, the Dawgs sit at 5-2 (3-2 SEC) and at 2nd place in the SEC East. Georgia will have off this week in preparation for the game against 1st place Florida, played in Jacksonville, FL on October 31.
** Featured photo: Getty