Sophomore Nate Crawford was limited against Florida last week.
It’s certainly not the reason Missouri lost, but a healthy Crawford makes the offensive line better.
He suffered a sprained left ankle at Kentucky and sat out the South Carolina victory. Against the Gators, he did the best he could, but wasn’t healthy enough for a full return.
“Basically, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play, but I did know I was going to push myself as far as I was able to, because that was a dream game for me playing against the Gators,” said Crawford, a Pensacola, Fla., native.
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Senior Taylor Chappell, who had been starting at left guard, soaked up the practice and game reps in Crawford’s absence.
Chappell saw most of the action against Florida, but the line might shift back to the regular starting lineup at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Georgia at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
Crawford, who is getting treatment three times a day, hopes to help Missouri turns things around after the offense generated only three points last week.
“I’m very confident with this week,” he said Monday at the Tigers’ media day. “It already feels a lot better than last Monday. I proved to myself that my body can actually do a little something on Saturday when I played. The key this week will be getting as much treatment as possible in between class and practice and stuff like that, and getting as healthy as I can.”
Will Georgia be able to keep Missouri’s offense bottled up? That’s one of the questions we had for the Bulldogs’ beat writer Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, who joins us for this week’s Four Downs.
First down: How much of a drop-off, if any, is there with Sony Michel and Keith Marshall now handling the bulk of the rushing duty after Nick Chubb's season-ending knee injury?
Weiszer: Georgia could still be nearly as productive, assuming Michel takes the bulk of the carries. There’s a bigger drop-off now to Marshall than there was from Chubb to Michel.
Two years removed from major knee surgery, Marshall hasn’t shown yet his previous form, but perhaps this will be the chance he needs to become close to that kind of player again. Michel is more of a threat in the screen game than Chubb, but he’s not as physical a back. Both are big-play threats whenever they touch the ball.
Second down: What do we make of Greyson Lambert’s season so far? He’s been accurate and taken good care of the football, but can he push the ball downfield against Missouri’s defense?
Weiszer: Well, he’s been accurate in particular in back-to-back games against South Carolina and Southern, when he threw just one incompletion in each game and set an NCAA record by completing 24 of 25 passes against the Gamecocks.
He has struggled the past two weeks, completing just 44.6 percent. He has thrown just one interception and will throw a ball away at times instead of taking a risky chance, but also could have had a couple others throws picked off.
One thing he has done well, particularly last week, is throw the deep ball. Malcolm Mitchell is his top target, but Reggie Davis had a TD catch last week and would have had another if not for a costly drop late.
Third down: Missouri ranks last in pass efficiency and last in rushing offense, but is Georgia’s defense good enough to hold the Tigers in check?
Weiszer: I don’t expect Georgia to limit Missouri to a field goal like Florida did. The pass defense can be leaky at times, but without a running quarterback and with Russell Hansbrough not in peak form, the Bulldogs are capable of keeping the Tigers in check. Freshman defensive lineman Trenton Thompson cracked the starting lineup a couple of weeks ago and had eight tackles last week.
Fourth down: How big is the loss of Jordan Jenkins if he’s unable to go Saturday?
Weiszer: He’s arguably their best defensive player when healthy, but he wasn’t himself while trying to play some though a hip strain last week. He could hardly be blocked in the SEC opener against Vanderbilt. Georgia’s pass rush should be better but the Bulldogs haven’t affected the quarterback as much as was expected before the season.
Leonard Floyd started at inside linebacker, but was back on the edge more against Tennessee and the Bulldogs need him to impact the game, especially since Jenkins probably won’t be playing this week. Jeremy Pruitt can dial up some pressure to make Drew Lock have to earn it in his first road start.