Georgia football: 5 Missouri players to watch Saturday
When Missouri fell 37-31 at Wyoming to start the 2019 season, many people weren’t sure what to make of the Tigers. Foreshadowing, perhaps, of a bumpy campaign for Barry Odom and his crew?
On cue, the Tigers are 5-3 when many thought they might enter the Georgia game 8-0.
Sure, they should have never lost to Vanderbilt. Or Kentucky. Although, to be fair, the loss to the Wildcats was partially due to Kelly Bryant getting hurt in the 1st quarter. The loss to Vandy, though? I’ll let Tigers fans pick that apart.
While Georgia will no doubt be heavily favored Saturday, that’s not to say Missouri lacks enough talent to potentially make this a little uncomfortable. Here are 5 players on the opposing sideline Bulldogs fans need to watch during Saturday’s game:
Kelly Bryant, QB
Sure, Bryant is dealing with an injury to his right hamstring sustained against Kentucky on Oct. 26. But he gained a little more time to rehab it as Mizzou’s coming off an open week.
He’s not quite putting up Drew Lock numbers, but the Clemson transfer has turned in some strong performances: He threw for 423 yards in a season-opening loss to Wyoming while going for 329 yards in a win over Ole Miss on Oct. 12. He’s not afraid to run, either, carrying it 17 times for 77 yards in a win over South Carolina on Sep. 21 and 16 times for 72 yards at Vanderbilt. He also has thrown for 14 touchdowns versus just 5 interceptions.
We’ll have to see how Odom plays his cards regarding Bryant’s injury leading up to the game, but I promise you he won’t disclose anything sooner than he has to.
Larry Rountree III, RB
On average, Mizzou leans toward the run more than the pass, keeping it on the ground about 42 times per game versus going to the air around 31 times an outing. It has 6 games with 40 or more run attempts with 2 games of 50 or more, compared to Georgia’s 5 games with 40 carries or more and 0 with 50-plus.
Rountree, a junior, leads the way in rushing and is averaging a respectable 5.0 yards per carry. The stat that stands out is his 8 rushing touchdowns, tied for 2nd in the conference to Texas A&M’s Kylin Hill. That’s notable because the Dawgs have yet to allow a touchdown on the ground.
Will that change Saturday? The way things have been going with this rushing defense, probably not, but Rountree’s a name to know.
Kobie Whiteside, DL
Georgia didn’t allow a sack to a Florida team that led the SEC in that department. And while Mizzou ranks toward the bottom of the conference with 13, that doesn’t mean the Dawgs can ignore the impact that a player like Kobie Whiteside can make. His 5 sacks are 2nd among SEC players despite him not recording one in the Tigers’ past three games.
Still, 5 sacks aren’t bad for a player that had 2.0 in his first 2 seasons combined. And at 6-1 and 310 pounds, it will be fun to see Georgia’s big men up front go at him.
Jordan Elliott, DL
Mizzou has allowed a pair of 297-yard rushing games: to Wyoming and Kentucky. It’s given up 200 or more in just 1 other game, when Ole Miss ran for 204 yards on Oct 12. Outside of that, the Tigers defense hasn’t allowed more than 150 yards to an opponent and has held 4 opponents to 61 yards or less.
It doesn’t stack up to Georgia’s elite rushing defense, but Mizzou’s been able to hem in most teams thanks in part to Jordan Elliott, who leads the team with 7.0 tackles for a loss. The Texas transfer, who played his way onto Pro Football Focus’ All-SEC 2nd team in 2018, has already set a new personal best in tackles and is set to end 2019 with a career-high in tackles for a loss as well.
Nick Bolton, LB
Enough about Mizzou’s defensive line. It might be worth zeroing in on one of the top linebackers in the SEC.
Bolton only trails Elliott for the team lead in tackles for a loss with 6.5, but his 73 tackles ranks among the highest totals in the SEC. He also has 2 interceptions and 3 pass deflections.
Even though his partner in the linebacking corps, preseason All-SEC pick Cale Garrett, has likely been lost for the season due to a pectoral injury, Bolton is still a player that will not only present a challenge for Georgia’s running backs, but has a chance to make it tough for Jake Fromm to throw the football into the flats.