FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Georgia Sports Communications
Dec. 12, 2020
Note: Quotes from head coach Kirby Smart, redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels, and senior linebacker Monty Rice are included at the bottom of this release.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – With a second-half offensive surge, the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (7-2, 7-2 SEC) pulled away from the 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers (5-4, 5-4 SEC), 49-14, Saturday afternoon in front of 10,830 fans at Faurot Field and an SEC Network television audience.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels finished 16-for-27 passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver George Pickens hauled in five receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore tailback Zamir White also tallied 126 yards rushing on 12 carries with a touchdown. Freshman tailback Daijun Edwards also amassed a career-high 103 yards rushing and a touchdown. For the afternoon, the Bulldogs posted 615 yards on offense, the most for the team since 656 last season against Arkansas State.
After scoring 91 points in its last two outings, the Missouri offense was held to just 200 total yards by the Georgia defense, with sophomore safety Lewis Cine leading in tackles for the second-consecutive game with four stops.
“Really proud of our team, proud of our seniors, proud of our leadership, proud of our staff, and proud of our support staff,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the game. “It was some really tough conditions to play in today, and it just goes to show you that not everybody across the country loves football the way the kids do, especially in our conference. But they love it and they love it at Georgia. The leaders on this team said they wanted to play well and they practiced really hard this week.”
The Georgia defense immediately made its mark as junior cornerback Eric Stokes intercepted Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak on the Tigers’ second play from scrimmage, returning his fourth pick of the season 27 yards to the Missouri 23-yard line. With outstanding field position, the Bulldogs ran six consecutive times, culminating in sophomore tailback Kenny McIntosh’s 2-yard scoring rush, his first of the season, wrapping up a 6-play, 23-yard drive.
After forcing a Missouri punt, the Georgia run game continued to excel as White and junior tailback James Cook notched consecutive long rushes. Cook added to the Bulldogs’ lead with a 37-yard catch-and-run touchdown on third-and-8, bringing the score to 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. Cook’s scamper finished off an 8-play, 89-yard sequence that bled over four minutes off the clock. Throughout the day, Georgia was impressive on third down, finishing 8-for-13 in the game.
Missouri answered on its ensuing possession as a 29-yard trick play reception in Georgia territory set up a 2-yard touchdown run from Bazelak. For much of the second quarter, both teams struggled offensively, but the Tigers’ special teams came up with a critical play late, blocking a Jake Camarda punt and returning it to the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line. After two Georgia goal line stops, tailback Larry Rountree broke through the line for a score, tying the game at 14 with just over a minute before halftime.
In need of a response, Daniels and the Georgia passing game came through, quickly moving down the field with three straight long completions, culminating in a terrific 36-yard touchdown catch by Pickens. Using only 43 seconds, the 6-play, 75-yard sequence helped give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead entering the locker room.
The Georgia offense carried the momentum into the second half, beginning with a 36-yard White rush into Missouri territory. Three plays later, Daniels again found Pickens for a 31-yard touchdown reception, extending the lead to two scores following the 5-play, 75-yard drive. After the Tigers stalled near midfield, the Bulldogs broke the game open as White took off for a 43-yard touchdown rush, making it 35-14 following a 6-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
On the ensuing Georgia possession, a 36-yard completion from Daniels to freshman tight end Darnell Washington set up Cook’s second touchdown of the day, a 9-yard rush that finished a 4-play, 71-yard drive. Edwards would then wrap up the Bulldogs’ scoring for the day with a 6-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter, becoming the fourth different Georgia runner to score in the contest. Edwards’ rush completed a 10-play, 79-yard drive.
Junior quarterback Stetson Bennett entered for Georgia on its penultimate drive, marking his first action since the Florida game on Nov. 7. A 47-yard rush from Edwards set up the Bulldogs again in scoring position, but redshirt sophomore place kicker Jack Podlesny missed a field goal attempt from 43 yards out. Freshman quarterback Carson Beck made his Georgia debut on the game’s final drive as the Bulldogs sought to run out the clock.
Georgia will return home next weekend for its season finale against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Dec. 19 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. The game against the Commodores is set for a noon kickoff with television coverage to be determined at a later date.
Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart
“Really proud of our team, proud of our seniors, proud of our leadership, proud of our staff, and proud of our support staff. It was some really tough conditions to play in today, and it just goes to show you that not everybody across the country loves football the way the kids do, especially in our conference, but they love it and they love it at Georgia. The leaders on this team said they wanted to play well and they practiced really hard this week. I thought Monday and Tuesday were our best practices of the entire year. They had a lot of juice and energy. For whatever reason, coming off the break, I think it actually helped them a little bit with that and gave them a lot of juice and energy, and it carried over into the game. We had some adversity in the game—had a punt blocked for basically a touchdown right there at the end zone and couldn’t keep them out. We’ve got to clean that up. This team just continues to be resilient.”
On today’s game sending a statement…
“I don’t know if it was a statement game. I do know that our kids responded to that, and they get tired of the criticism because of the two biggest games we played and we didn’t play our best. It probably had something to do with who we were playing. I think Missouri is a good football team. I really do. I think they’ve got a good football team that’s growing, young, getting better, and we were able to overpower them in the second half. Early in the first half, we did the same, but they also created some adversity for us. I think Eli (Drinkwitz) is doing an unbelievable job here of getting kids to buy in, and he’s tough to defend offensively. The weather conditions probably limited both offenses a little bit, in terms of being able to do some things. Look, you can make an excuse and say, ‘Well, Missouri’s not that very good. Georgia just beat them.’ You can say that all you want, but at the end of the day, those kids showed up to play and play physical and play fast, and they practiced hard all week when, across the country, that’s not happening in every place. I’m proud of the way those guys handled it.”
On the impact of JT Daniels on the offense…
“There’s no way I can put a barometer on that. I certainly think that there’s a combination: JT is throwing the ball and throwing it accurately, which is helping. It was tough conditions today to throw it in. Everyone is playing in Coach Monken’s system for the ninth game, and the freshmen are growing up. So, I’ve said repeatedly that JT’s doing a tremendous job. I’m not going to take anything away from JT, but I’m also going to recognize that George Pickens is healthy, Warren McClendon being an older tackle, Jermaine Burton growing up, Darnell Washington growing up. There’s so many factors. They’re hearing plays and concepts for the 50th time, instead of the fifth time, so where that falls and who gets the credit, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re playing better and we still haven’t reached our potential. I really feel like offensively, we haven’t been stopped unless we’ve stopped ourselves.”
#18 JT Daniels | Sophomore | QB
On the rhythm of the passing game, coupled with the running game and the offense as a whole…
“It’s what we’ve been looking for the last couple of weeks. I said that was our first real complete game. Mississippi State throwing, didn’t run it like we wanted to. South Carolina, more of a statement game, we came out and tried to run it. Today, we threw when the look said to throw and ran when the look said to run.”
On working with George Pickens…
“That was really the first look you got where nobody is playing help on George, it’s George one-on-one. That’s what it looks what it’s him one-on-one. I will never overthrow George, I’ve never overthrown George. You just throw it up to him and you know a 50-50 ball with George is an 80-20 ball. Probably the most important thing he does, and he and I talk about it at least once a week, I told him I’ll throw it to you every single time as long as you make sure that it never gets picked if it isn’t the right throw. So yeah, that’s George one-on-one, just got to throw it up to him.”
#32 Monty Rice | Senior | LB
On the defensive play in the second half and what changed at halftime…
“Nothing. They really didn’t do anything the first half. They had one drive they scored a touchdown on, they actually drove the ball down the field. The other touchdown was, they blocked the punt. So, they really didn’t do much the whole game if I’m being honest. We just kept doing what we’ve been doing the whole year and we really wanted to stop the run because 34 (Larry Rountree) had been hot coming into this game.”
On what the attitude coming into the game was…
“Missouri had to deal with the same stuff we had to. Not playing for our league either, and it’s raining, we’re cold, they’re cold. It’s really just about when you line up between the numbers. That doesn’t matter. It’s about making tackles, making interceptions, doing what you’re supposed to do. That’s all we can do.”