In a game full of future early round NFL draft picks including star quarterbacks Drew Lock and Jake Fromm, Georgia edge rusher D’Andre Walker and Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr. made the biggest impressions Saturday in an entertaining contest that ended with the Bulldogs winning 43-29.
The 6-foot-3, 305 Beckner recorded two flashy tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage over the first 30 minutes - including on a 4th and one just before halftime to thwart a potential Georgia scoring drive - keeping the game close despite three turnovers by his offense.
Unfortunately for Beckner, a fourth-year senior, and the yellow-clad Tigers fans in Columbia, Georgia’s defense was even more efficient, scoring touchdowns on a fumble return and blocked punt in the first half to stake the Bulldogs to a 20-7 halftime lead they would never relinquish.
While there was plenty of credit to go around, the top Dawg was clearly Walker, a slithery 6-3, 240 pound senior who forced two fumbles and provided constant harassment of Lock, who failed to throw a single touchdown Saturday after tossing four in a loss to the Bulldogs a year ago in Athens. Walker’s burst, bend and length had Lock backpedaling much of this game and his accuracy dipped, as a result.
Lock, NFLDraftScout.com’s top-rated senior quarterback after setting an SEC single-season record with 44 touchdowns a year ago, certainly was not helped much by his teammates. The Tigers not only struggled to protect him, they often dropped catchable passes. His interception, for example, was a short, accurate pass over the middle that went through the hands of his intended receiver.
This two-point conversion to redshirt sophomore tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was one of his best throws of the game.
Lock entered the game completing 69% of his passes with a sterling 11-1 touchdown to interception ratio but was just 23 of 48 for 221 yards and an interception Saturday, failing to throw for a touchdown for the first time in 13 games. Lock did run for a score, one of four rushing touchdowns by the Tigers on Saturday.
Like his defense, Fromm was more efficient than his counterpart. The true sophomore completed 13 of 23 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns along with an interception, that, frankly, was more on his receiver Mecole Hardman, who allowed the ball to be wrestled away from him.