With all due respect to Buffalo, the first real test the Bulldogs will face in the very important 2012 season is the newest member of the SEC East, the Missouri Tigers.
Missouri and Coach Gary Pinkel have been an average Big 12 team over the last few years, and had a really good season with star QB Chase Daniel in 2007. Prior to 2007, Missouri was chugging along in the 5-6 to 8-5 range. In 2007, the Tigers went 12-2 and came real close to playing for the BCS title that year, only losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. In fact, both of Missouri’s two losses that season came to the Sooners.
The following year, Missouri had another decent season, making a return trip to the Big 12 Championship game, and were again thrashed by Oklahoma. The 2009 squad came back down to Earth a little. In 2010, Missouri had a pretty year again, going 10-3. The three losses were a 14 point defeat to Nebraska a week after upsetting top ranked Oklahoma, a 7 point loss to Texas Tech and 3 point loss to Iowa in the Bowl game.
Last year Missouri again came back down and went 8-5. The Tigers lost to Arizona State by 7 in OT, lost to the top ranked Sooners by 10, Kansas State by 7, #4 ranked Oklahoma State by 21, and to Baylor by 3. The Tigers most notable win was against #16 Texas, but Texas was grossly overrated all season long.
Known for their good QB play and spread offense, Missouri actually had a strong ground game in 2011. Henry Josey rushed for 1168 yards on only 145 carries (8.1) and Quarterback James Franklin had nearly 1,000 yards himself, getting 981 on the ground to go along with his 2865 passing. But Franklin did have 11 interceptions to go along with his 21 TD (almost a 2:1 ratio).
But Senator Blutarsky made a post last week that showed that Quarterback James Franklin’s shoulder injury might be worse than originally thought and running back Josey will have to undergo a second knee operation. Josey appears doubtful for all the 2012 season. Though the back field may have some question marks, Missouri did sign Dorial Green-Beckham in February, and he appears poised to be the SEC’s next big thing at wide receiver (pun intended, he’s 6’6” and 220 lbs).
Georgia’s secondary when the Dawgs roll into Columbia, MO to open the 2012 SEC schedule appears to be Branden Smith, Malcolm Mitchell, Shawn Williams and Corey Moore. It would obviously look better if Rambo and Cummings were in the mix, but that is not going to be the case. Stopping Green-Beckham will be a tall order (again, pun intended) for the depleted secondary.
But Missouri’s strength is running the ball. That could change with Green-Beckham, but in 2011 Missouri ranked 9th in the nation and led the Big 12 with 243 ypg. Georgia, on the other hand, was 11th in rush defense, giving up only 101 ypg on the ground.
So while all the concern has been on the Secondary, the most important defensive units to stop Missouri it seems will be the front 7. With Washington, Geathers, Jenkins, Robinson, Herrera and Jarvis Jones all returning, plus VHT Ray Drew’s new role as Defensive End and the plethora of young talent we have on the defensive side of the ball, Georgia should be quite capable of stopping the run.
And everyone knows that your secondary is only as good as the pressure you can put on the QB (see: UGA in 2009).
I won’t go as far as saying the concern of a depleted secondary is much ado about nothing; in fact, it really sucks that Rambo and Cummings will be out that game and the quality depth behind the aforementioned starterss is dental floss thin.
And that doesn’t take into account the intangibles of this being Missouri’s first SEC game and it will probably be a night game on ESPN or ESPN 2. But looking at what Missouri supposedly does well on offense, and what the Georgia defense is very good at doing, we match up better than originally feared with the depleted secondary.
P.S. And if you were wondering, I got all the info from, I went to www.cfbstats.com. If you look at what Georgia does well on offensive, passing, Missouri’s pass defense is not very good. So there is that going for Georgia also.