How did Tyler Macon and Brady Cook play? Grades from Mizzou's loss to Georgia
During a game where Missouri football was outmatched from start to finish, No. 1 Georgia took care of business.
The Tigers were tamed 43-6, and that outcome was always likely, even as Missouri took an early 3-0 lead.
Amid the blowout loss, there were blips of success Saturday from different avenues, including the two quarterbacks playing meaningful game minutes against the best defense college football has to offer.
Here are our grades from Missouri's loss to Georgia:
The biggest concern for Saturday wasn't how backup quarterbacks were thrust into action against the Georgia defense. It was how the Bulldogs’ offense matched up perfectly against the Tigers’ defense.
The Tigers' inability to stop the run has been well-documented, and Georgia's rushing attack with James Cook and Zamir White is a notable one-two punch.
Factoring out Bulldogs receiver Kearis Jackson's 37-yard gain on a non-traditional end-around play, UGA rushed 32 times for 133 yards. Neither Cook nor White broke the 100-yard mark.
Still, in selling out for the run, Missouri conceded in the passing game. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, but those two scores forced him to make great throws.
Credit to Bennett, he recognized Missouri was selling out to stop the run and made those great throws to beat the one-on-one coverage consistently.
However, the biggest win for Missouri's defense was how it won the turnover battle. It's a testament to the offense for not turning the ball over, but the defense deserves credit for forcing one of its own.
Jaylon Carlies intercepted a JT Daniels pass that was batted in the air. It was great awareness from Carlies, who finally got back into the turnover category.
It's difficult to grade a defense with high marks that gave up 41 points (the other two came via a safety). But when MU dedicated its afternoon to slowing the run and did, the unit deserves at least some props.
Quarterback Tyler Macon
Saturday's starter was inexperienced, but it was clear what sets him apart from the likes of Brady Cook and Connor Bazelak.
Macon actually led Missouri in rushing, gaining 51 yards on the day. He also threw for 74 yards and led the Tigers to a field goal on his second drive of the game.
The biggest difference was how Macon made plays with his feet. There were designed runs and scramble plays where he made something out of nothing, and it extended drives.
He showed some accuracy and decision-making issues, however, such as a fourth-and-3 in the first half where Macon had a lane to run for the first down but hesitated long enough to where that lane closed. He got two yards when he needed three.
But those two issues can simply be chalked up to some inexperience. Macon didn't turn the ball over, either.
How many quarterbacks make their first career start on the road against the No. 1 team in the nation?
All things considered, Macon was fine.
Quarterback Brady Cook
Cook was about a few plays from being a C, but bumped his grade up with a clear change in play.
There was a moment in the first half where Cook scrambled in an attempt to move the chains but slid before taking contact. That marked him down short of the first down, and earned him a talking to by head coach Eli Drinkwitz.
Cook redeemed himself in the second half, as he ran for a first down on fourth-and-9 in the third quarter from the Georgia 38-yard line. Instead of sliding, he dove head-first for the marker and absorbed contact.
Cook grew right before Missouri fans’ eyes Saturday. He completed 14 of his 19 passes for 78 yards. Cook didn't throw a touchdown, but he also protected the football and didn't throw an interception.
Cook also showed his mobility, gaining 46 yards on 10 carries. He was efficient and careful on the day, while also showing immediate growth.
Missouri's offensive line
Much like the defense, the offensive line wasn't great. Leading up to the game Saturday, MU players preached how the game was going to be won or lost up front.
Missouri's offense scored just six points on the day and struggled to pick up consistent momentum.
But facing a ferocious defensive front and a defense that has wreaked havoc on much better lines, the Tigers' front largely held up. They picked up blitzes, created running lanes and didn't allow a single quarterback hurry.
The line did allow two sacks, but that's just fine. This is the same Georgia front that dominated Clemson, South Carolina and Arkansas for seven, five and four sacks in a single game, respectively.
Sure, the offense didn't finish most of its drives with points, but this grade is a little more lenient considering how the Tigers still rushed for over 130 yards and how the offensive line has dealt with injuries.
Wide receiver Tauskie Dove
It took a while for Missouri to get comfortable throwing the football vertically against Georgia, which makes sense. The Bulldogs’ defense bottlenecked nearly everything from the second quarter on.
When MU finally got into passing more, Dove was ready and it showed.
The redshirt junior caught five passes for 84 yards, including receptions of 31 and 28 yards on the Tigers' final possession of the game. Dove's 28-yard reception was all him, as he fought off two Georgia defensive backs for the ball and came down with the catch at the UGA 3-yard line.
When MU gained confidence to throw vertically, Dove was ready. He's establishing himself as Missouri's No. 1 wide receiver on a team with a handful of options.
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