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Mini Mizzou Preview / A Tribute to Dad

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Let me take you back to 2016, the first year of Coach Kirby Smart's tenure in Athens. Long may he reign. Heading into the season, Bulldog Nation knew this would probably be a challenging year. It's hard enough to win in the SEC, and even more so when you're led by a first year head coach. There was cautious optimism around the program, which had stalled in the last few years of the Mark Richt era. Uncle Kirby had managed to hold on to a few key recruits (including 5-star QB Jacob Eason), and UGA finished with the 6th ranked class in the 2016 247 Sports Composite recruiting rankings. Still, expectations were somewhat limited. We knew that either NCAA record holder Greyson Lambert (our friend Brett's all time favorite Dawg) or true freshman phenom Eason would be the starting QB. Nick Chubb was also returning from a catastrophic knee injury that he suffered the year before, and it was unclear whether he would be the same player.

The Creswell Hall trifecta (Kritesh, Brett, and yours truly), decided to make the trek to Columbia, Missouri. For the record, I believe that I also set a record on this trip by consuming 4 Bloody Mary's on the ~1 hour flight from Atlanta to St. Louis. But, I digress. Neither team was able to run the ball effectively, which led to Drew Lock and Jacob Eason combining for 93 passing attempts. Jacob Eason was officially named the starting QB prior to this game, and he threw for 308 yards on the day (only 5.6 YPA, but let's not nitpick). After being held scoreless for the entire 2nd half, the Dawgs faced a 4th & 10 from the Missouri 20-yard line with under 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Then, this happened:

BOOM. It was an insignificant victory in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes you just need a win. I learned that from Johnny Drama. Anyways, the trifecta celebrated as if we had won a natty. In hindsight, I think this game provided Bulldog Nation with a brief moment of joy in an otherwise challenging season. And we needed that. AO was not able to join us on this road trip, but we found his dad in the stadium after the game. GFD.

Coach Mark Richt

At halftime of the game this Saturday, UGA will be honoring a very special guest, Coach Mark Richt. After Vince Dooley retired as UGA head coach following the 1988 season, UGA entered what you could call football purgatory. The Ray Goff and Jim Donnan eras were challenging, and SEC East rivals Tennessee and Florida pulled away from our Dawgs in terms of national relevance. Coach Richt was hired as head coach in 2001, and brought us 2 SEC championships in his first 5 seasons. We never reached the promised land, but we were oh so close in 2002, 2005, and 2012. And more importantly, CMR restored belief in the Bulldog Nation. There is nothing I wanted more than to win a natty with CMR. Legitimately good people are few and far between, and he falls into this category (if you need an example, see this article posted by DawgNation a few weeks ago).

Alas, it was not meant to be. The last 3 years of the CMR era made it clear that a change was needed. The Dawgs had a record of 27-11 in this time, and lost 7 of 12 against ranked opponents. This is not acceptable in Athens when you consider the resources that are made available to the head coach. That being said, the lack of on field success in his last 3 seasons did not make the (forced) resignation any less painful for a lot of fans, including myself. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that CMR was fired (nursing a hangover on my couch in Town Brookhaven, in case you were wondering). For a lot of fans my age, CMR was the only UGA coach that we remembered. He was UGA football, and he was dad. The way things ended did not feel right. It was far too abrupt, and CMR did not get the recognition he deserved. AO was crushed by the news, and posted a beautiful tribute shortly after.

I am genuinely glad that we will finally have a chance to give CMR a proper sendoff in Sanford Stadium. He is a DGD and I hope anyone that attends the game on Saturday gives him a big ovation. I don't know much, but I am certain that he deserves it.

High level hitters

After week 9, Bill Connelly's SP+ ranks Missouri 73rd overall (45th offensive and 96th defensive).

  • Missouri is coming off a 37-28 victory over Vanderbilt last week. The Tigers allowed Vanderbilt to rush for 258 yards in the game. I expect the Dawgs will rush for more than that on Saturday.

  • Sophomore Connor Bazelak is the starter at QB for Missouri. I think Bazelak is among the better QBs in the SEC at the moment, but he is questionable this week after sustaining an injury against Vanderbilt.

  • If Bazelak is unable to go, Missouri is in trouble. The other two quarterbacks on the roster have combined for 16 career pass attempts. Either way, the Tigers are going to struggle against the Junkyard Dawgs.

  • Senior Tyler Badie is the leading rusher for Missouri, with nearly 1,000 yards on the year. Texas A&M, the best defense that Missouri has faced, limited Hadie to 68 yards (3.1 YPC).

  • Keke Chism and Tauskie Dove are the leading receivers for the Tigers. With a healthy Bazelak, these two have proven to be very effective receivers.

  • As the saying goes, you can lose any given Sunday (or Saturday in this case). No disrespect to Missouri, but I don't see that happening this week. The Dawgs are 38 point favorites on Saturday, and should cruise.

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