Georgia Football Coach Kirby Smart Praises Missouri; Highlights Challenges

Georgia Football Coach Kirby Smart Praises Missouri; Highlights Challenges

Football

Georgia Football Coach Kirby Smart Praises Missouri; Highlights Challenges


When Georgia faces Missouri this Saturday, it will be Kirby Smart’s third time going against the Tigers as head coach at UGA.

In his two prior matchups, Smart is 2-0, winning the first game in Columbia 28-27 and last year’s matchup 53-28.

Smart leads a Bulldog team currently ranked second in the nation, so he understands that they will be getting Missouri’s best shot.

Mizzou is led by third year coach Barry Odom, a former linebacker for the Tigers in the late 90s. Odom has been on the Missouri coaching staff since 2003, where he started as a graduate assistant.

The two third-year coaches share some similarities, which Smart highlighted after Monday’s practice.

“Onto Missouri, who Barry Odom, similar to myself, is coaching at his alma mater and through the SEC head coaches’ meetings I’ve gotten to know him well, got a lot of respect for him,” Smart said. “He’s a really good ball coach. I thought the job he did last year was just remarkable to go through the tough start they started with and then to come in and really play us tough and then to go on, I guess, a 9-1 streak is what they’ve been on, and they’ve got a really good football team.”

Missouri was 7-6 last season, led by preseason all-SEC senior quarterback Drew Lock, a fourth year starter. This season, the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start with big wins over UT Martin and Wyoming. Last week, they beat Purdue 40-37.

“Obviously a premier quarterback in the country,” Smart said of Lock.

Lock currently leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation in passing yards, with 1,062 yards so far (354 ypg). His 11 touchdowns ranks tied for fifth in the FBS as well. Lock has only thrown one interception in 113 attempts through the first three games.

Smart highlighted some of Lock’s strengths on Monday.

“I don’t know if his arm can get any stronger,” said Smart. “He can make every throw. He threw the ball outisde of the stadium last year on us. I think the biggest thing is his maturity level, his confidence. He’s seen the coverages. He’s seen the checks. He understands where he wants to go with the ball. He’s got as fast of release as I’ve ever seen. He can get the ball out so quick, and he does such a good job of keying your defenders and knowing where to go with the ball.”

Get all that? It’s clear Smart has a lot of respect for the Missouri gunslinger.

Smart continued…

“You can tell they really work hard on it, and I think he’s just more mature. I think anytime you play in this conference and you go to the venues he’s gone to, to have three years under your belt or being in your third year, it makes it a lot more comforting.”

Last season against Georgia, Lock threw 25 times, completing 15 of his passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“He throws the ball with purpose,” Smart said, continuing his praise of Lock. “And he puts them in the right play a lot, and he’s a really good athlete. The guy takes off running on some zone reads, he keeps the ball and he exposes people. He runs for 20 and 30 when he takes off and does it. He just doesn’t do it very often. You can tell he’s a good athlete. So I got a lot of respect for him, and you can tell the way he runs and scrambles and throws the ball he’s a competitor.”

During his sophomore season, Lock gave first year head coach Kirby Smart troubles all night in Columbia. Georgia would go on to win 28-27 on a late Jacob Eason to Isaiah McKenzie touchdown, but Lock had a big night passing, hitting on 23/38 attempts for 376 yards and three touchdowns. The Georgia defense did, however, convert three interceptions.

“You can tell he’s a good athlete. So I got a lot of respect for him, and you can tell the way he runs and scrambles and throws the ball he’s a competitor.”

Georgia takes on Missouri at 12 p.m. ET (11 a.m. local) from Farout Field in Columbia, MO. The game will be televised on ESPN.

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