Georgia Bulldogs: Marcus Lucas



ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the teams in Saturday's Georgia-Missouri game is a top-10 team and, until Saturday, felt like the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC East.

Then No. 7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0 SEC) barely survived a Tennessee upset bid, winning 34-31 in overtime while losing several key players to injury, while No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0) smashed Vanderbilt 51-28 on its home field. And suddenly the Bulldogs' chances of winning the SEC East -- and their odds of winning Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium -- don't feel like such safe bets anymore.

“I'm not surprised to see Missouri jump in the top 25. They're an undefeated team and played extremely well against a good Vanderbilt team,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team dropped a spot in this week's Associated Press Top 25, while Mizzou entered the poll for the first time since September 2011. “… As far as where we are right now, it doesn't really matter all that much right this minute. What's important, really, is to try to score some points and slow Missouri down a little bit.”

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsAaron Murray had reason to celebrate after Georgia's overtime win at Tennessee.
Missouri rolled through the first month of the season, blasting four overmatched nonconference opponents like Murray State and Indiana with its prolific spread offense.

Skeptics had reason to question the validity of that production because of the lower level of competition, but cracking the 50-point barrier in Nashville quieted much of that criticism. Sure, the Commodores aren't at the level of Alabama or Florida on defense, but they had not allowed 50 points to an opponent since 2010.

After demolishing Vandy on Saturday, Missouri passed Georgia for second in the league in total offense (543.8 ypg) and is second in scoring (46.6 ppg). The Tigers will face a Georgia defense that surrendered 277 yards after halftime to Tennessee's underwhelming offense.

Richt disputed the notion, however, that Georgia's fortunes rest on whether its offense is productive on a given Saturday since the defense has consistently struggled.

“I think we're all just one team, we're Georgia, and we know that regardless of the situation or the score, we're expecting our defense to get stops and our offense to score points and whatever it takes to win is all we're worried about right now,” he said.

After at least two Bulldogs -- tailback Keith Marshall, filling in for All-SEC star Todd Gurley, and receiver Justin Scott-Wesley -- suffered season-ending knee injuries against Tennessee. Receiver Michael Bennett also went down with a knee injury that will sideline him for at least the near future.

Quarterback Aaron Murray's late-game heroics saved the Bulldogs from a stunning upset, but they must regroup quickly in order to hang with Missouri's explosive offense where quarterback James Franklin has three of the conference's most productive receivers – Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington -- and the SEC's top rushing attack (258.8 ypg) at his disposal.

“No doubt, they're very good,” Richt said. “We think they're playing at a lot higher level on offense this year than a year ago. I think now their quarterback's healthy and he's just performing so well and you've got big, physical, great-looking receivers, but they're running the ball well. It's not just the passing game, that's for sure. A lot of yards -- they're averaging over 550 yards or so -- a lot of points per game. They're really doing some great things.”

SEC lunchtime links

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
12:45
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Happy Friday to you all. Saturday is almost here and that means another weekend of entertaining SEC football. Here is some reading to get you ready for game day:

Upon Further Review: UGA 41, Missouri 20 

September, 10, 2012
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Jarvis Jones AP Photo/Paul AbellJarvis Jones was all over the field for Georgia in its victory over Missouri, disrupting the Tigers' offense at every turn.
Some notes and observations after rewatching the TV broadcast of Georgia's 41-20 win at Missouri on Saturday night:

• Mark Richt said after the game that the play of the night might have been when Richard Samuel sniffed out a fake punt in the fourth quarter. After rewatching the game, I’m conviced Richt was correct -- despite the enormous plays Jarvis Jones made after Samuel's big stop.

I couldn’t believe they tried the play at the time and I’m still mystified by the decision. My best guess is that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was feeling a bit desperate because his defense was having so much trouble slowing down a Georgia offense that had scored touchdowns on three of the previous four possessions. But Missouri was still fully in the game, moving the ball well overall and didn’t need to take such a big risk. The Tigers were down only 24-20 at the time.

Random thoughts from UGA-Mizzou 

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
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ST. LOUIS -- Some scattered thoughts and other notes on Saturday’s Georgia-Missouri game while waiting to catch a flight back to Atlanta:

* Might the Missouri game have been the breakout performance from Marlon Brown that we’ve been waiting four years to see? Most Georgia fans likely recall his four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s Vanderbilt game, but the Bulldogs actually just caught the Commodores out of position twice and hit Brown for touchdowns with the exact same play.

Against Missouri, he was everywhere, finishing with a career-high eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the first thing he brought up after the game was that he should have had two more catches that he dropped. Brown’s coaches and teammates have raved about his receiving skills for the last two preseasons, only to watch injuries sidetrack him before he ever got going. It looked like more of the same when he missed the Buffalo game with a hamstring strain, following yet another strong preseason, but Saturday’s game provides hope that the results might be different this fall.

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Game breakdown: Georgia at Missouri 

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
7:00
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NO. 7 GEORGIA AT MISSOURI
7:45 p.m. ET Saturday
Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.
ESPN2

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Justin Hunter and Da'Rick RogersAP Photo/Wade PayneJustin Hunter (11) and Da'Rick Rogers (21) are considered to be the best receiving duo in the SEC.
Our SEC position rankings continue with a look at schools' wide receiver and tight end groups.

Past rankings:
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:

1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.

(Read full post)

You've already seen Chris Low's to-do lists for the Western Division teams, so now it's time to check out what the East teams need to take care of before next fall:

FLORIDA
  • Two major areas new offensive coordinator Brent Pease needs to hit during his first offseason with the Gators is running back and wide receiver. Florida must find a downhill running back for Pease's offense, and a reliable go-to wide receiver -- two things Florida lacked in 2011.
  • With quarterback John Brantley graduating, Pease must find a new starting quarterback. That means developing rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, who struggled in relief of Brantley at times last season, and Tyler Murphy, who has yet to take a snap.
  • Toughen up mentally and physically. The Gators ranked 89th nationally in penalties, and were called out by coach Will Muschamp as being too soft in his first season. Soft can't win in the SEC.
GEORGIA
  • The Bulldogs' coaching staff needs to toughen running back Isaiah Crowell up. As the season went on he visited Georgia's training table more than the end zone in games. He was even booed by Georgia fans when he limped off the Georgia Dome field in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs were inconsistent running the ball because their lead back was always nicked up.
  • Getting the offensive line ready will be key to 2012. The Bulldogs will have to replace three seniors on that line, including All-SEC performers Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones.

(Read full post)

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