A healthy respect

Brandon Sudge, Staff
GA Varsity
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USA Today

Georgia continues SEC play on Saturday against a Missouri team that travels to Athens with a 1-4 record and zero conference wins.

The Tigers have a -76 point differential in their second season under head coach Barry Odom. Georgia opened as 28-point betting favorites ahead of the action, so many are expecting the Bulldogs to cruise to their fourth conference win.

Kirby Smart, the leader of the fourth-ranked Bulldogs, doesn’t see it as such of an easy path to victory.

“This is an extremely high-powered offense, extremely explosive,” he said. “When you watch the tape you see the reason they are. To be honest, offensively, they have only stopped themselves. Not many people have really stopped them as far as yardage.”

Missouri’s offense is ranked 28th-best in the nation, and posted a 73-point total in its season opener against FCS foe Missouri State.

The problem for the Tigers has been a defense that allows 40 points per game, although Smart credits the defensive philosophy of Odom and his front-seven. However, the biggest threat for the Bulldogs’ defense comes with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock.

“He has incredible arm talent. I think this is the third year that I’ve seen him,” Georgia senior cornerback Aaron Davis said. “Every time he can make any throw that he possibly wants to on the field. We definitely need to be on our cues when we go against him.”

Lock showed his capabilities last season when he nearly knocked off Georgia in Columbia. The Bulldogs squeaked by Missouri with a 28-27 victory, but wouldn’t have if it weren’t for thanks to a last-second touchdown from Jacob Eason to Isaiah McKenzie.

The Tigers’ junior signal caller threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the near victory. A year later, Georgia hopes to avoid a repeat performance.

“We’ve got to have a good week of practice,” Smart said. “I hope last week got our attention that a good quarterback that is accurate that knows where to throw the football can attack a defense. I think this kid (Drew Lock) has as strong as an arm as anybody in the league. He has two really outstanding wideouts, not to mention some big tight ends.”

Georgia’s scoring defense ranks second-best nationally by allowing 10 points per game. Against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs gave up two scores in their 31-point victory. Roquan Smith said that his defense didn’t play to its standard, and the group sees areas that it can improve.

One of which is enhancing pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“It’s not where it needs to be. We’re not an explosive pass rush team,” Smart said. “I don’t care what everyone wants us to be, that’s just not who we are. We’re strike blockers, play run and we try to convert the pass rush and we try to get the quarterback in passing situations and attack them. It’s hard sometimes in the style of defense that we play.”

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