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.
* Richard Samuel was responsible for what coach Mark Richt said might have been the play of the game. The senior fought through a group of Missouri blockers to blow up a fake punt run by Tigers punter Trey Barrow for only a 3-yard gain at the Mizzou 38. Georgia led just 24-20 at the time, but the Bulldogs got a Marshall Morgan field goal out of the deal.
It seemed like a bizarre call with such a long distance to cover from so deep in Missouri territory, and Tigers coach Gary Pinkel had to answer for it after the game. “I have been doing this for a long time and a coach never calls something that he thinks will not work,” Pinkel said. “When they work, they are good calls and when they don’t work, they are bad calls, and I will take responsibility.”
* Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham made sure to bring up how many college football pundits had picked against the Bulldogs on Saturday because starters Bacarri Rambo, outside linebacker Chase Vasser, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Sanders Commings were suspended (more on this later). He credited the Bulldogs’ replacements -- he specifically named cornerbacks Devin Bowman and Malcolm Mitchell and safety Connor Norman -- for getting the job done when few observers thought they could.
* Georgia did dodge a bunch of bullets, however, with Missouri quarterback James Franklin missing open receivers at points and a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half appearing to go through Marcus Lucas’ hands after he beat Norman into position in the end zone. The Tigers went just 4-for-18 on third down, 1-for-3 on fourth down and scored twice -- both field goals -- on their three trips inside Georgia’s 20-yard line.
* A strange stat from Saturday: Sophomore Amarlo Herrera finished with a career-high 10 tackles against Missouri -- all in the first half.
* Freshman tailback Todd Gurley made his first start and Missouri bottled up him and Georgia’s running game for most of the night. Gurley had six carries for 16 yards at halftime, but broke a 44-yard run in the fourth quarter from the shadow of the Georgia end zone that helped the Bulldogs flip the field position. Huge play. Gurley finished with 10 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown.
* Georgia did its best to hem in Franklin and make him run up the middle. By and large, it was successful -- and Richt credited his defensive ends for setting the edge of the defense and forcing Franklin back inside. Franklin finished with 20 rushing attempts (including an 11-yard Jarvis Jones sack) for 25 yards.
* By the way, I think Jarvis made himself some future money last night. That was the kind of game that NFL scouts are going to drool over.
* Bulldogs nose guard John Jenkins left the game with an apparent ankle injury, but Richt said after the game it did not appear to be serious. Perhaps he will provide an update later today on his 6:15 p.m. media teleconference.
* After the game, Richt said, “We’re not trying to send a message, we’re just trying to win SEC games,” but Georgia’s fans apparently felt differently. Once the Bulldogs opened a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, those in red and black repeatedly cheered, “Old Man Football!” to mock Tigers defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who last week used that derisive term to say that Georgia's brand of football is boring.