It will sting at first. The Missouri Tigers were poised to upset the top-ranked team in the AP Poll for the first time in program history. Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad news at Tiger Town.
Missouri’s defense looked exceptional in many ways and didn’t allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter of the 26-22 loss. The pass rush looked powerful and they harassed Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett all night.
Georgia entered the game averaging 153 yards per first quarter. Mizzou held them to just 49 yards in the first quarter of Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs finished with 481 yards on the night, but almost all of that came late in the game when the Tigers defense was gassed. Their solid defensive performance is something this team can rely on going forward.
Offensively, head coach Eliah Drinkwitz seemed a bit more adept as a playmaker, and quarterback Brady Cook played his best game of the season. Cook finished with 192 yards and a touchdown without giving up a turnover.
Although he didn’t do much on the night, it was clear Missouri was making receiver Luther Burden a priority in their offense. Burden saw a fair amount of targets and was also used as a punt returner.
Their leading scorer on the night, however, was kicker Harrison Mevis, who went 5-for-5 on field goals and also netted his only extra point. Mevis had a tough Week 4, missing out on a potential winner against Auburn, but he bounced back strong against Georgia.
He completed every kick he attempted, including a 55-yard radiator that gave Mizzou his final points. It’s a good sign for the Tigers going forward, and they’ll be a little more relaxed knowing they’ve got Mevis to bomb him for three just about anywhere.
Mevis’ five field goals were impressive, but the Tiger’s offense needs to turn more into touchdowns. Missouri’s defense has given the offense a short field many times, and that’s the kind of stuff you need to capitalize on to beat the defending national champions.
In this one, it wasn’t lack of firepower but rather costly penalties that stalled the Tigers’ offense. On a handful of drives that looked like surefire touchdowns, they were pushed back by senseless mistakes. The worst came on a false start while the Tigers were on the 1-yard line, which pushed them back forcing them to settle for a basket.
There were a lot of positives in this game, but there is still a lot of work for Missouri to do. They travel to Gainesville next weekend to take on the Florida Gators in another SEC battle. The Tigers are still looking for their first conference win and will be hungrier than ever when they take to the field at The Swamp next Saturday.
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