Georgia escaped Nicholls State's upset bid and emerged from the scare relatively unscathed. But positives were few and far between in the 26-24 win over Colonels from the FCS.
The Bulldogs turned it over three times and appeared unfocused at times during the disappointing performance.
“We did not get great practices every day,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of the week's preparation. “But at the end of the day that comes from within. That comes from great leadership, and we have to get better leadership.”
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At his direction, Smart said the No. 16 Bulldogs are moving on to this week's opponent, Missouri. The two East Division colleagues kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. The game will be telecast on the SEC Network.
Missouri is 1-1 after bouncing back from an opening loss to West Virginia with a 61-21 blowout of Eastern Michigan.
Coach Barry Odom's Tigers erupted for 647 yards of total offense in that game with quarterback Drew Lock throwing for 450 of it with 24 completions in 37 attempts. His backup, Marvin Zanders, connected on all three of his attempts for another 27 yards.
“They have a very up-tempo offense and very disruptive defense,” Smart said. “They do a great job — they always have. Coach Odom does a great job defensively. He has always been a great defensive mind in this conference, and they have a great offensive coordinator in Josh Heupel, who has done a tremendous job at really fast-pace offense.”
Smart did not name his starting quarterback during his week press conference.
Talented freshman Jacob Eason started and played the majority of the game against Nicholls. Senior Greyson Lambert played just a handful of plays, but Smart would not commit to either against Missouri.
“I feel a sense of urgency to get the best guy on the field to give us an opportunity to win each game,” Smart said. “If that means getting one guy ready then that's what it would be.
“Right now, we're not in a position to do that. Right now we're in a situation where we've got two quarterbacks that are both developing, both a part of the game plan, and we want to continue to do that.
“It's a situation where if one guy dominates during the week, that guy will play. But within every game we've got a situation where another quarterback has to be ready. You've got to have two quarterbacks ready for the most part anyway. We just want to get the best guy out there that gives us the best opportunity to win based on that game plan.”
In the two games, Eason has passed for 335 yards in completing 19 of 32 attempts with one interception. Lambert, last year's starter, is 7 of 11 for 56 yards.
The big weapon offensively for the Bulldogs, of course, is junior tailback Nick Chubb. Chubb has rushed 52 times for 302 yards in the two games and has scored three of Georgia's four rushing touchdowns.
A sophomore, Lock got off to a slow start against West Virginia, completing only 23 passes in 51 attempts for 280 yards, but rebounded with the big game against Eastern Michigan a week later.
“He is doing a great job of running our offense, and things are slowing down tremendously for him,” Odom said. “I think he will continue to grow by learning from his mistakes, while learning from the good things he does as well.
“He's got a chance to be special. If the 10 guys around him continue to play well, his game is going to continue to get better. He did some really good things tonight.”
Wide receiver Johnathon Johnson had a big day in the win with five receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.
“He has got playmaking ability and continues to work and develop his skill set, Odom said of the redshirt freshman. “The things he did on the field tonight he does in practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“It's important to him that he is a total package player, having the ability to not only play out wide, but to return punts and block. He is only going to get better.”