The Dawgs will be playing Missouri on Saturday and they look to their powerful running game to win the road.
The second-ranked Bulldogs prepared for their upcoming SEC-East clash with Missouri this week with two-hour workouts on Wednesday in full pads inside their indoor practice facility.
Speaking on the SEC Head Coaches Weekly teleconference, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs will have to perform in a tougher environment in Columbia this Saturday facing a talented Tiger squad with a passionate fan base. Georgia opened SEC action with a 41-17 victory over No. 24 South Carolina in Columbia on Sept. 8.
Smart was asked about the team’s kickoff coverage mindset as Bulldog junior placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship has yet to allow a return this season with a national-leading 23 touchbacks, and what happens when an opponent does attempt a return.
“We really drive that home each week; we show teams that maybe don’t cover as hard as us or take it easy thinking it’s going to be a touchback,” said Smart. “We’ve shown a lot of clips of guys returning the ball nine yards deep. We try to keep them honest. We practice every day where it comes out even though in a game it hasn’t. A lot of our guys are excited for an opportunity for it to come out.”
Smart was asked about the importance of a rushing attack in helping Jake Fromm and the offense.
“A run game is the quarterback’s best friend,” said Smart. “It certainly slows down the rush if you’re able to run the ball. A lot of times that’s what negates sacks and lost yardage plays by your ability to run the ball, be physical and control the line of scrimmage. It’s really important to the quarterback because it brings up friendly down and distances. If you can’t run the ball, you end up with a lot more 3rd and longs. It helps any quarterback in the country.”
Although Georgia’s powerhouse running game appears to be a significant threat to the Missouri defense, the Tiger’s Head Coach does not feel the Bulldogs offense is unstoppable.
According to Mizzou’s head coach Barry Odom, the Tigers must make assignments and fill the gaps to stop the Georgia run game.
“There’s times, the way they play and get up to the next level of defenders — which would be our linebackers and sometimes a drop-down safety — they can overwhelm you a little bit with the way they play in the run game,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said in a press conference. “I think they have as talented a run-oriented system, when they decide to run the ball, as we’ve seen. If you’re out of your gap or your assignment a little bit, it will be exposed really quickly.”
“We have to go into the arena and make one snap at a time,” said Odom.
Missouri has won nine straight regular season games dating back to last year and has averaged about 40 or more points per game for those victories.
The last time Georgia lost to Missouri was in 2013 in Athens, 41-26. Georgia is 6-1 all-time against the Tigers including 3-0 in Columbia.
The Bulldogs will face Missouri Saturday with kickoff slated for Noon ET on ESPN.