Missouri lost for only the 14th time Saturday when the opposing team’s last score allowed it to take the lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Tigers and here are a few things we learned:
1. Drew Lock is human
Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock has been largely spectacular* this season.
Lock started the season with 119 straight passes without an interception, a streak that ended in equally spectacular fashion.
Midway through the third quarter, Lock said he got greedy with a deep dart down the left sideline for J’Mon Moore into double coverage.
It was picked off by cornerback Juwuan Briscoe, who later recovered a Moore fumble with 1:10 remaining to ice Georgia’s comeback win.
Two drives later, Lock was picked off on another deep pass down the left sideline by safety Quincy Mauger.
Missouri’s next drive featured 14 straight runs and four first downs, but on the 15th play Mauger again intercepted Lock — this time in the end zone, taking away a possible 35-yard field-goal try that might have ended the fame.
It was his third interception in six pass attempts.
First-year coach Barry Odom said Georgia made some adjustments, playing more Cover 2 in the second half (and possibly baiting Lock into those throws into double coverage).
It’s a learning moment for Lock, who still finished 23 of 38 for 376 yards with three touchdowns as well. But he was only 4 of 9 for 54 yards in the second half.
* Lock leads the SEC in passing yards per game (368.7), completions (70) and attempts (126). He’s the conference’s only passer with more than 1,000 yards through the season’s first three games.
With 1,106 yards this season, Lock broke Mizzou’s record for most passing yards in the first three games, a mark set by Chase Daniel with 1,017 yards in 2007.
Locks ranks second in the SEC in yards per attempt (8.8) and touchdown passes (nine) and also ranks third in passer rating (148.1).
His 32 completions of at least 10 yards are third most in the conference.
Lock only trails Mississippi’s Chad Kelly with 15 completions of 20-plus yards and nine of 30-plus yards. His seven completions of 40-plus yard and four of 50-plus yards lead the conference.
Meanwhile, Lock’s three completions of 60-plus yard and two of 70-plus yards are tied for first in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
He only ranks seventh in completion percentage at 55.6 percent, but he’s 47 of 75 in the last two games — a 62.7-percent clip that that would rank third in the SEC.
Both marks are a substantial upgrade from last season, when Lock completed 49 percent of his passes for the season and only 45.6 percent in conference games.
2. Coaching curiosities
First, credit the defense, players and staff, for figuring a few things out against the run. Junior running back Nick Chubb only had 63 yards on 19 carries and was largely a nonfactor. Georgia finished with 101 yards on 38 carries, a paltry 2.7-yard average, so that’s a positive sign*.
* Of course, that also was still better than Mizzou’s 95 yards on 37 carries, a malnourished 2.6-yard average. But the run-game struggles, and senior running back Alex Ross wasn’t available, are a separate issue.
Missouri’s pass rush also showed up with four sacks, but that same defense couldn’t get punish freshman quarterback Jacob Eason during the game-winning drive and get a stop. Sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. managed the only credited QB hurry on Georgia’s 10-play, 80-yard march.
Eason only went 3 of 8 for 43 yards, but he also drew a critical defensive pass interference against senior cornerback John Gibson on a third-down play at midfield and made a perfect throw on fourth-and-10 at the Tigers’ 20-yard line to deliver the victory. Missouri had no help over the top on the play and senior cornerback Aarion Penton got beat by a lobbed pass to Isaiah McKenzie.
Missouri led by six with 13:35 remaining when it decided to take it foot off the accelerator on offense, running the ball 14 straight times and gaining four first downs on a 60-yard drive. However, the drive only evaporated 5:24 from the clock and Lock was picked off on the 15th play, taking away any scoring opportunity. Better clock management could have bled the clock and left Georgia without time for its final drive, which started with 3:32 remaining.
In between, the Tigers handed the ball to junior Ish Witter on third-and-11 at the Georgia 40-yard line rather than see if Lock could convert a first down. He’d had interception woes, but that still had a better chance of success than a running play. When Corey Fatony’s punt went into the end zone, the stage was set for the Bulldogs’ rally.
There also was the illegal-substitution penalty when Missouri had 12 men on the field coming out of a timeout. The miscue negated a great backfield tackle by Michael Scherer early in the second quarter and kept a touchdown drive alive for Georgia rather than forcing a field-goal try.
3. Mizzou going bowling?
Bowl projections in September mean nothing, but I’ve always expected Missouri to go at least 7-5 and make a bowl this season.
Given a remaining schedule that includes Delaware State, Middle Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble getting to 6-6 even without a signature win.
National analysts also gave Missouri fans a reason to be encouraged despite a 28-27 loss Saturday against Georgia.
Apparently, the Tigers have done enough in the last two weeks to merit inclusion in updated bowl projections.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm pegged Mizzou as a 5-7 team that would qualify based on APR to fill out the field of bowl participants after week two.
Now, there seems to be near universal agreement that the Tigers will go bowling during Barry Odom’s inaugural season: