Saturday’s game for Georgia is one we might remember for a long time. It was Jacob Eason’s coming out party, as the freshman quarterback silenced the question of who will start for the rest of the season — and for that matter for the next two-and-a-half years.
It didn’t take long for everyone to realize Georgia’s running game was not going to work well against Missouri. The Tigers were stacking the box as they were determined to not allow Nick Chubb to run all night long.
It was all on Eason. Missouri practically said to Eason, “OK, kid, we’re not going to let Chubb beat us. So if you can beat us, go ahead.”
And he did.
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Eason was composed and did not buckle under the pressure of starting his first SEC road game. Columbia, Missouri, might not be Knoxville or Baton Rouge, but it was still hostile territory. When Georgia needed a huge play on fourth-and-10 from the 20 with less than 100 seconds left, Eason came through in the clutch.
The zip on Eason’s throws is impressive, and he still needs to learn how to put a good touch on his passes once in a while. But he did well, with not much help from his offensive line. As great as the win was for Georgia, the concern about the offensive line is at high alert level.
The Bulldogs have no depth on the line of scrimmage, and the talent level is just not very good. Head coach Kirby Smart inherited a mess on the offensive line, and he has been telling us that for nine months. But there’s no help on the horizon. The current players just have to get better, to play better.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney must make more adjustments in case opposing defenses shut down Chubb and the running game. And Eason needs someone besides Isaiah McKenzie to step up at receiver, while the vertical passing game could be important to Eason against better defenses.
Eason had one interception against Missouri and a couple of bad throws. Sure, chalk them up to freshman mistakes. But senior quarterbacks make mistakes too. Eason will have his ups and downs, but there were so many positives against Missouri to give Georgia hope for this season.
Let’s calm down before everyone goes crazy. This week’s game with Mississippi will be tremendously tough. The Rebels have two losses and must save their season Saturday. They have a much better line of scrimmage on both sides than Georgia, so the Bulldogs may need a perfect performance to win this road game.
Eason won the battle of quarterbacks against Drew Lock and Missouri, but can he do it against Chad Kelly at Ole Miss? Kelly is the best quarterback in the SEC, and with no running game, Ole Miss has no choice but to let Kelly sling the ball all day.
That will put the pressure on Georgia’s defense. Even with the three interceptions last week, Georgia had little pass rush. Someone (Lorenzo Carter maybe?) needs to step up and put pressure on Kelly so he doesn’t have a field day. Remember, Ole Miss scored 43 on Alabama’s defense.
Georgia had one star — Chubb — going into last week. Now, the Bulldogs might have a second star. Eason proved why he was a five-star prospect, and the questions about what kind of competition he faced in Washington have stopped. But with Georgia’s other issues, it might not be the last time the Bulldogs have to depend on their 18-year-old quarterback to bail them out this season.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.