Mizzou at Georgia: Five Questions

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock looks for a receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)

1. Double down on the deep ball?

Georgia’s defense has surpassed Alabama as the SEC’s best — at least statistically — but opponents have barely challenged the Bulldogs’ secondary. The most efficient passing team among Georgia’s five FBS opponents is Vanderbilt, with a season rating of 137.4, which ranks No. 66 nationally. The other four opponents rank No. 66 (Appalachian State), No. 112 (Tennessee), No. 113 (Mississippi State) and No. 116 (Notre Dame). At Kentucky last week Mizzou uncovered its strength as Drew Lock completed several deep balls to outside receivers Emanuel Hall and J’Mon Moore. If MU’s protection holds up, Lock might be able to stretch the Georgia defense for similar gains.

2. resistance for Georgia ground game?

The Tigers don’t stand a chance if they can’t limit Georgia’s running game. Coming off a 423-yard rushing day at Vanderbilt, Georgia runs the ball as well as anyone in the conference with an endless supply of backs behind a much-improved offensive line. Missouri might be tempted to load up eight defenders in the box and attempt to take away UGA’s strength. Georgia won’t throw unless it’s necessary. In their last three games, the Bulldogs completed only nine, seven and 10 passes — and won each game comfortably.

3. Special teams problems solved?

Just when the Tigers thought they had their special teams in order some lousy snaps doomed the field goal unit at Kentucky. The Tigers opened the long-snapper competition this week and could hand the job to untested freshman Drew Wise. Against South Carolina the Tigers allowed a costly kickoff return touchdown. Fumbled punts have been a problem in other games. Another breakdown or two could sabotage any chances to stay close with the Bulldogs in Athens.

4. Will Mizzou stop the turnover binge?

Mizzou continued its charity efforts at Kentucky with two more turnovers, giving the Tigers an SEC-high 14 for the season. Only four teams in the country have lost more fumbles than MU’s eight. Running back Damarea Crockett has coughed up the ball in each of the last two games and could be in danger of losing carries to steady senior Ish Witter. For the year, the Tigers are minus-10 in turnover margin, the third-worst mark in the country. Georgia will pounce on more freebies.

5. Can Mizzou keep Lock on his feet?

The Bulldogs have smothered opponents at the line of scrimmage without relying on an abundance of sacks and tackles for loss. But Georgia can unleash a lethal blitz on passing downs. Pass protection will be crucial, especially if Mizzou wants to dial up more deep passes. Expect MU to use extra blockers (tight ends, H-backs, tailbacks) on obvious passing downs and send just three receivers on routes.

Missouri starters

Offense

QB Drew Lock 3

RB Damarea Crockett 16

WR J’Mon Moore 6

WR Emanuel Hall 84

WR Johnathon Johnson 12

TE Jason Reese 11

LT Yasir Durant 70

LG Kevin Pendleton 71

C Trystan Castillo 55

RG Tre’Vour Simms 75

RT Paul Adams 77

Defense

DE Jordan Harold 55

DT Terry Beckner Jr. 5

NT Markell Utsey 90

DE Marcell Frazier 16

WLB Terez Hall 24

MLB Cale Garrett 47

SLB Brandon Lee 4

CB Logan Cheadle 28

CB DeMarkus Acy 17

SS Ronnell Perkins 3

FS Thomas Wilson 8

Specialists

PK Tucker McCann 19

P/H Corey Fatony 26

LS James Workman 86

KR Larry Rountree III 33

PR Johnathon Johnson 12

Georgia starters

Offense

QB Jake Fromm 11

RB Nick Chubb 27

WR Terry Godwin 5

WR Javon Wims 6

WR Riley Ridley 8

TE Isaac Nauta 18

LT Isaiah Wynn 77

LG Kendall Baker 65

C Lamont Gaillard 53

RG Solomon Kindley 66

RT Andrew Thomas 71

Defense

DT Tyler Clark 52

NG John Atkins 97

DE Jonathan Ledbetter 13

SLB Lorenzo Carter 7

JACK Davin Bellamy 17

MLB Reggie Patrick 45

WLB Roquan Smith 3

CB Malkom Parrish 14

CB Deandre Baker 18

S J.R. Reed 20

S Dominick Sanders 24

Specialists

PK Rodrigo Blankenship 98

P/H Cameron Nizialek 92

LS Trent Frix 69

KR Mecole Hardman 4

PR Terry Godwin 5

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