Georgia football: Plenty to like after Dawgs' blowout win over Missouri
Well, I guess I was wrong. I took the bait of essentially putting Georgia on upset alert against Missouri.
In my defense, the Tigers looked like a confident bunch coming into this one, having won 3 straight and appearing to hit their stride toward the tail end of Year 1 of the Eli Drinkwitz era. Perhaps the memories of the Dawgs’ loss to South Carolina last year was another factor that led me to tag this as a possible letdown game.
And it looked as if Mizzou was looking to get off the mat after going down 14-0 to start the game, as they eventually tied it late in the 2nd. As it turned out, it was the last time they’d score. And it turned out to be a comfortable victory for the Bulldogs ahead of a final tuneup against Vanderbilt before a sure New Year’s 6 berth.
There were a few quick hitters to glean from the game:
- Georgia’s run defense was its usual self, allowing 22 yards on 22 carries.
- Their 3rd-down offense, converting at a 47.7 percent clip this year, was 8-of-13 against the Tigers.
- JT Daniels didn’t need another 400-yard passing game, but 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions will do.
But there were 3 things I wanted to dig into in particular that stood out to me, notable not only because of their impact on the game itself but as strong signs of what could equal a dangerous offensive unit in 2021:
1. George Pickens playing the way we expected him to play all along
It wasn’t so much Pickens’ production as the types of catches he made against Missouri. For example, this, somehow, was a touchdown:
After only watching this guy for 1 half, I am incredibly impressed. George Pickens has the making of a future first-round wide receiver pic.twitter.com/uCb5q2mQQd
— Hashing Out the Draft (@ITHBenschwartz) December 12, 2020
Sure, there are still signs of his immaturity — such as his water bottle stunt against Tennessee that drew the ire of Kirby Smart — and a minor injury that hampered his progress a little. But you’d like to think that he is looking to turn the page and commit himself to realizing his full potential. And since the installation of Daniels as the starter at quarterback, Pickens is starting to resemble the player who went off for 175 yards in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor.
That George Pickens guy is pretty good
— JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) December 12, 2020
It’s safe to say that Georgia will be set at wide receiver next season. Don’t count on Pickens being here past 2021 with more games like the one he had.
2. The developing chemistry of Daniels with Darnell Washington
Washington is hard to miss on the field at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. And as Daniels continues to develop chemistry with his receiving corps, I think that his ability to get the Las Vegas product involved is equally as important, as a reliable pass-catching option at the tight end spot has been something the Dawgs have been missing in past years.
Is Washington going to be Kyle Pitts good? It’s too early to tell, but seeing him continue to be targeted as the 3rd quarter progressed — he tried to outdo Pickens with a pretty catch of his own — means that he isn’t just out there for looks and will be a major X-factor for this offense moving forward.
JT Daniels gaining some chemistry with Darnell Washington is bad news for the SEC next year.
— Sydney Hunte (@SHWrites) December 12, 2020
3. The running game continuing the momentum it gathered against South Carolina, including the younger players
Missouri had done reasonably well against the run in previous games, outside of allowing 232 yards to Tennessee and 292 to Arkansas. Still, the Tigers were yielding just more than 144 yards on the ground per game.
Georgia, though, picked up right where they left off against South Carolina with their 2nd straight 300-plus-yard rushing game, adding 4 rushing touchdowns in the process. It’s the first time the Dawgs have reached the 300-yard plateau on the ground since doing it in 3 straight against Auburn (331), Kentucky (309) and UMass (426) in 2018.
Zamir White fronted the effort with his 10th rushing touchdown in 9 games — matching D’Andre Swift’s number through 14 games in 2018 — on his way to his first 100-yard game since Nov. 7 against Florida and 3rd this year. But seeing Daijun Edwards, getting more playing time after the injury to Kendall Milton, continue to gain confidence and make the most of his opportunities bodes well for a potent running attack in 2021. The fact that Georgia did all this against a fairly decent run defense makes it even better.