The Missouri Tigers head down to Georgia later this week to face the Bulldogs on the road in what will be a hostile SEC environment. This game features two top 25 teams and two very good quarterbacks. James Franklin has played out of his mind so far this season for Mizzou, and Aaron Murray is finally winning the big games for the Dawgs. Murray has made all the throws this season, and is a big part of UGA’s national top ten ranking. Murray’s progression from last season to this one is particularly impressive, and Georgia has leaned more and more on their star quarterback to not just manage but to win football games as he has improved. With both running backs questionable for Saturday’s game, UGA will be leaning even more on their star QB. Stopping Murray will be extremely important if the Tigers want to pull off a big upset against the Dawgs.
Missouri’s offense has been getting all the press so far this season, and rightfully so. The Tigers are top ten in the nation in scoring offense and total offense this year. So we know Mizzou will be able to score points against Georgia and stay in the game behind a strong run game and the arm of James Franklin. The challenge for the Tigers will be stopping Aaron Murray. UGA is ranked 17th in the nation in passing yards per game, and the Tigers have been pretty terrible so far in passing defense. In five games, the Tigers have allowed on average 293.8 yards per game, ranking 113th in the nation. Yikes. The Mizzou defense is going to have to step up and play their best game of the season if the Tigers want to have a chance at victory.
One way Missouri can help itself on defense is getting a good pass rush all game. The Tigers have to knock Aaron Murray down a couple times and not let him get comfortable in the pocket. Through five games, the Tiger’s best pass rusher has been Michael Sam, who has been in beast mode the past two weeks. Sam and the rest of the D-Line need to have a monster game Saturday, pressuring Murray and getting a few sacks.
With both of Georgia’s best running backs questionable for the game Saturday, the Dawg’s gameplan will be to throw the ball early and often. Knowing this, the Tigers should drop extra linebackers into coverage to help out the secondary. This is risky, because it jeopardizes Missouri’s ability to pressure the quarterback and stop the run. But it is important to not let Murray have lots of one on one matchups to choose from, because Georgia’s wideouts are good enough to win those matchups. Playing zone and double teaming UGA wide recievers will help the secondary and make it a lot harder for Murray to gain yards through the air.
Georgia is a very good football team, with a top ten national ranking to back it up. But they are also not invincible, as we saw last week when the Dawgs barely pulled out a win against Tennessee. The Tigers will have their hands full with Aaron Murray, but if they get good pressure on the QB and everyone plays up to the competition, an upset might not be too out of reach.