Week four report card: Grading the MU offensive position groups against Georgia

Missouri had three turnovers and shot itself in the foot with multiple errors on offense.
Drew Lock walks onto the field with team captains before the start of Missouri's eventual 43-29 loss to Georgia on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

Missouri’s 43-29 loss to Georgia was full of twists and turns. Those included a half of seemingly revamped defense, and an offense and passing game that seemed to disappear. If it sounds backwards after the last three weeks, that’s because it is.

The game was defined by Missouri’s mistakes on offense and special teams more than the improvement on defense, with both the offense and special teams groups gifting touchdowns to Georgia that forced the Tigers to play catch-up all afternoon.

Here’s a report card on each position group:

Quarterback: C+

Drew Lock: 23-48, 221 yards, 1 interception, 1 rushing touchdown

Hard to pin down Lock’s performance for a first half in which receivers gave him little room to throw the football, but any Heisman hopes Lock had were dashed with a subpar performance. But he’s at the helm of this offense, and he especially failed to move the ball against the Georgia defense in the first half.

He did well to be patient and check down early in the game to tight ends and running backs, and he made a good read to pick up a blitz and find Nate Brown, but accuracy soon proved to be an occasional issue.

Lock completed under half of his passes and couldn’t make any throws downfield against a Georgia secondary that shut down the Missouri receivers.

The defense played a strong first half and produced plenty of stops, but Lock and the offense couldn’t gain any ground or put points on the board after a touchdown drive in the first half.

Lock was given the ball down 13-7 after the defense made a red zone stop, but he fired three straight incompletions to bring out the punting unit.

Lock’s lone interception was no fault of his own, but he also had two fumbles late in the half that killed Missouri drives. One set up a Georgia field goal. The other was recovered by offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton for a loss off 11 yards and set up a third-and-20.

Missouri’s defense gave Lock and the offense key red zone stops after costly turnovers, but the offense couldn't make progress to keep pace with the Bulldogs, putting Missouri in a 20-7 hole going into the locker room.

In the second half Lock was able to lead the offense on a couple scoring drives and was able to rush for a score to give Missouri some hope, but it was too little too late.

Running Backs: A-

Damarea Crockett: 13 carries, 67 yards, 1 touchdown

Larry Rountree III: 8 carries, 33 yards, 1 touchdown

Tyler Badie: 50 yards rushing, 1 touchdown, 29 yards receiving

The running backs put together another strong performance and were the most effective part of the offense for most of the game, with Damarea Crockett, Tyler Badie and Larry Rountree III each scoring a touchdown on the ground while combining for 183 total yards.

Rountree III started the game and was able to burst through holes given to him by the offensive line early. Rountree barreled through the Georgia defense and ran over two defenders to score from 7 yards out and tie the game halfway through the first quarter.

After being a non-factor last week, Crockett led the way with 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground and ran over a Bulldog defender at the goal line to score from 5 yards out in the third quarter.

Tyler Badie was a dual threat again for the Missouri offense, totaling 79 yards and scampering into the end zone from 3 yards out to bring Missouri within 11 late in the third. He nearly had a long touchdown on a wheel route on Missouri’s first possession, but he couldn’t keep his feet in bounds on a 25-yard gain.

All in all, it was another outstanding performance for a group that looks to be gelling together nicely for the stretch run in conference play.

Wide Receivers: C-

Johnathan Johnson: 4 receptions, 51 yards

Nate Brown: 3 receptions, 35 yards

With 11:59 left in the second quarter, wide receivers had combined for zero catches on two targets. It looked like things couldn’t get any worse for the unit.

Then redshirt junior Johnathon Johnson cut into open space in the middle of the field and a pass from Lock hit him right in the chest – before falling into the hands of a Georgia defender.

The receiving corps didn’t register its first catch until Nate Brown was found for a 7-yard catch in the middle of the second quarter. That would be the only catch by a receiver in the first half.

Georgia’s star cornerback Deandre Baker locked down Emanuel Hall, who finished without a catch, meaning Lock’s favorite target couldn’t take the top off the defense. With Hall bottled up, life became a lot harder for Nate Brown and Johnson, who couldn’t create any space in the first half.

Missouri’s receivers found holes in the Georgia secondary after halftime to keep the Tigers within striking distance, but the damage of a horrific first half was too much for the offense to overcome.

Offensive Line: B+

2 sacks allowed, 2 tackles for loss allowed

The offensive line followed its excellent performance against Purdue with another strong game against a quality Georgia defense. Running lanes were open for Rountree and Crockett for most of the afternoon as the line paved the way for touchdowns from all three of the running backs.

The line was able to get a push against the Georgia front seven to give backs the opportunity to have the impressive game they had. Lock also had room to run into the end zone for a fourth rushing touchdown of the day.

Lock had plenty of time to throw on a couple occasions but had nowhere to go with the football. Protection fell apart a couple times and allowed two sacks that forced fumbles from Lock, but the offensive line did what it could to set up Lock and the running backs, and showed promise for a string of better performances later in the conference slate.

Tight Ends: B-

Albert Okwuegbunam: 9 receptions, 81 yards

Kendall Blanton: 3 receptions, 21 yards

The tight ends got off to a slow start with Okwuegbunam’s fumble spotting Georgia a 7-0 lead.

But Okwuegbunam would bounce back and lead Missouri in receiving yards. He also made a difficult catch on a 2-point conversion that pulled Missouri within 11 with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

The tight ends were Lock’s main targets and kept the pass game afloat in the first half with Kendall Blanton adding 3 catches for 21 yards. Blanton and Okwuegbunam also helped Missouri by blocking in the run game and helped the Tigers to their second-straight impressive rushing performance.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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