Position-by-position edge: Missouri at Georgia
Taking a position-by-position look at Missouri vs. Georgia, here’s what to watch for in Saturday’s contest between the Tigers and the Bulldogs:
QUARTERBACK– Georgia: UGA’s Greyson Lambert has weathered an up-and-down past few weeks since his record-breaking (24 of 25 passing) performance against South Carolina on Sept. 19. The graduate transfer quarterback was benched in UGA’s 38-10 loss to Alabama but bounced back with a decent outing (15 of 32, 279 yards, 2 TDs) in Georgia’s heartbreaking 38-31 loss to Tennessee. The low completion percentage was due to a few poor throws but also a few dropped passes.
Missouri freshman Drew Lock will receive his third start in place of the suspended Maty Mauk. Lock was accurate and effective against South Carolina (21 of 28, 136 yards, 2 TDs) but struggled against Florida (16 of 39, 151 yards, 2 INTs).
RUNNING BACKS – Georgia: The Bulldogs lost top RB Nick Chubb (92 carries, 747 yards, 7 TDs) to a knee injury for the rest of the season, but they still have the running back edge this week. Sophomore RB Sony Michel, a former five-star recruit, has been effective as the No. 2 running back this season (63 carries, 421 rushing yards, 4 TDs) and should be ready for an increased workload. Senior RB Keith Marshall also has 28 carries for 155 yards in 2015.
Russell Hansbrough, Missouri’s top returning rusher from 2014 (205 carries, 1,084 yards, 10 TDs), has been dealing with a sprained ankle throughout the first half of the season but showed promise against Florida (9 carries, 74 yards). Hansbrough’s backup, Ish Witter, has 81 carries for 324 yards and 1 touchdown on the season.
WIDE RECEIVERS, TIGHT END – Georgia: The passing game might be shaky, but Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell is the No. 4 SEC pass-catcher in receiving yards with 456 yards on 28 receptions.
The Tigers do not appear on the list of top individual receiving yards until No. 24 WR J’Mon Moore, who has 205 yards on 16 catches. WR Nate Brown is tied for No. 26 with 200 yards on 18 receptions.
OFFENSIVE LINE – Georgia: It’s debatable how much credit goes to the offensive line and how much goes to the running backs, but UGA’s big uglies have been part of one of the conference’s best running games. RG Greg Pyke is getting press for his NFL potential.
The Tigers offensive line is trying to pick up the pieces after getting manhandled by Florida’s front seven. MU is stacked with seniors upfront, but that experience doesn’t seem to be helping Lock stay clean.
DEFENSIVE LINE – Missouri: MU has two of the top pass rushers in the conference on its defensive line. Walter Brady comes in at No. 2 in the conference with 6.0 sacks and Charles Harris claims another 4.0 sacks. As for overall tackle numbers, Harris has 29 total tackles, including 18 solo, while Brady has 16 total tackles, 11 of them solo.
The Bulldogs linebackers and secondary are making most of the tackles on defense. DT Sterling Bailey has 25 total tackles, 6 of them solo, but he’s only credited for a partial tackle for loss and no sacks.
LINEBACKERS – Missouri: The Bulldogs and Tigers both have a pair of linebackers in the SEC’s top 10 tacklers, but MU holds the statistical edge. Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers is currently the conference’s top overall tackler with 74 total tackles. His teammate, Michael Scherer, is tied at No. 8 with 43 tackles. Bulldogs linebackers Tim Kimbrough and Jake Ganus come in at Nos. 10 and 13 in the SEC with 44 and 41 tackles, respectively. Also worth noting, Brothers and Ganus each have 2 interceptions.
SECONDARY – Missouri: MU defensive backs Kenya Dennis, Anthony Sherrils, Josh Gibson and Ian Simon each have an interception to their name. The Tigers are not the flashiest or most-talked about secondary in the SEC, but it’s an experienced unit that benefits from a strong pass rush. Last week, Missouri held UF QB Will Grier to a pedestrian 208 yards on 20 of 33 passing.
Bulldogs defensive backs Dominick Sanders, Reggie Wilkerson and Aaron Davis also have 4 interceptions between them (Sanders with 2). However, the unit as a whole has to address getting lit up last week by Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs (25 of 42, 312 yards, 3 TDs, INT) and his receivers.