The Missouri Tigers face a different test than the last two games when they play the Georgia Bulldogs: a pro-style offense.
In Mizzou’s losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the Tigers faced run-heavy offenses led by backup quarterbacks. Vanderbilt was on its third-string quarterback, while Kentucky leaned on Lynn Bowden Jr., a converted wide receiver.
But the Bulldogs have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Jake Fromm, a battle-tested junior in his third year starting. Fromm leads a strong aerial attack that can pick apart a secondary.
“He’s pro-style, doesn’t make mistakes,” Mizzou defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said of Fromm. “He gets the ball out on time. He gets to his third progression, has a good command of the offense.”
But it’s not just Fromm, MU coach Barry Odom points out. Running back D’Andre Swift has run for 104.8 yards per game, complementing Fromm with his legs. Between the two — and a group of talented wide receivers led by Lawrence Cager and George Pickens — the Georgia offense beats you both ways.
Saturday evening will likely be the Mizzou defense’s toughest test of the season.
“Fromm is able to decipher and really deliver the ball out of the break, the timing,” Odom said. “Every area will be tested. Corners and safeties, linebackers matched up on the running back.”
While the Mizzou defense has played well in the past two losses, Odom said the unit has allowed too many explosive plays, those that go for more than 15 yards. That area has been a point of emphasis since the bye week.
As is the case for every football game, Odom said it starts in the trenches. He had high praise for the Bulldogs offensive line coach, Sam Pittman. Odom said Pittman uses double teams well to neutralize the point of attack, making it difficult to get into the Georgia backfield. That’s also where defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and his teammates become vital, needing to pressure Fromm and forcing tackles for loss.
“This is something big in the trenches,” Elliott said. “We’re excited for this week.”
The Bulldogs are also unforgiving on third downs, converting at a 47.4% rate this season, 18th in the nation. Facing Florida last week, they were 12 of 18. Getting off the field was a weakness for Mizzou when it allowed Vanderbilt to milk the last six minutes of clock in the game.
“You can go on and on about their offense,” Walters said. “Every possession is going to matter, every third down is critical. That’s where we’re going to win the game. They’re really good on third downs. So we have to get them on third down and get off the field in those situations. It’s going to be a physical game.”
As the Tigers look to fix their run game and offense, the defense will have to keep Georgia off the scoreboard for any chance to win Saturday. Against a talented team with athletes all over the field, Odom said it’ll come down to execution.
“We’re just good enough as a team to win some games,” Odom said. “But we’ve gotta do absolutely everything right. The execution has to be on point. We have to bring our A game.”