A lot of As despite a loss: Grading Mizzou football in its near-upset of No. 1 Georgia

You don't almost upset the top-ranked team in the nation without having a few high-grading performances.

Although the Tigers came up short 26-22, Missouri still had performances across the table that would have earned the team wins if it were playing a lesser opponent, which would be most of the country considering Georgia's ranking.

Here are some postgame evaluations of Missouri after its four-point loss to No. 1 Georgia on Saturday night.

The Missouri defense

It's such a stark difference from last year to this year, but this year's Missouri Tigers defense proved last year's unit deserves to be forgotten. The performance against Georgia proved it.

The defense recovered two fumbles in the first half. The Tigers forced one, and you have to give credit where it's due for jumping on a loose ball.

Trajan Jeffcoat set the tone early with a sack that forced a three-and-out on the first Bulldogs drive of the game.

Missouri safety Daylan Carnell (13, left) scoops up a fumble in front of Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13, right)  during the Tigers' game against No. 1 Georgia on Oct. 1, 2022, at Faurot Field.
Missouri safety Daylan Carnell (13, left) scoops up a fumble in front of Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13, right) during the Tigers' game against No. 1 Georgia on Oct. 1, 2022, at Faurot Field.

After that, the Tigers bent but never broke until the fourth quarter. The only points the defense allowed other than field goals came on rushing touchdowns where the Bulldogs cut the lead to three and then took a four-point lead.

Missouri's defensive play calls were aggressive, and its players matched that aggressiveness. It showed in the final stats, as MU recorded two sacks, seven quarterback hurries and nine tackles for loss. The defense also won the turnover battle.

"We were hitting," head coach Eli Drinkwitz said. "We were physical. We forced turnovers."

Grade: A

Missouri's offense

The parts of the game that lacked for MU were where the offense had its chances to sustain drives or capitalize with touchdowns.

This grade was almost an A. Had Missouri done those two things, it would have knocked off Georgia.

It doesn't matter Brady Cook threw for 192 yards and averaged six pass yards per attempt. It didn't matter that the rushing attack produced 39 total rush yards when you factor out Cody Schrader's 63-yard burst.

Had the Tigers won, the offense would have done enough to beat the Bulldogs.

The most concerning problem for the offense remained the critical mistakes. Last week, MU couldn't sustain drives against Auburn. This week, a false start moved the ball away from the 1-yard line and resulted in a field goal. A crucial third-down conversion at the Georgia 38 was called back due to a personal foul.

Dominic Lovett continued to showcase his spot as the team's No. 1 wide receiver. Mookie Cooper continued to expand his role in the offense.

Grade: B-

Missouri quarterback Brady Cook

Against one of the best defensive lines in the nation, with an offensive line still piecing itself together, Cook took care of the football. That's all you can ask for sometimes, but he went beyond in a way that showed growth.

He created plays with his feet, something that played into him winning the starting quarterback job in the fall. That led to a touchdown drive where he found Lovett for a long gain and capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Tyler Stephens.

Cook was efficient, completing 63% of his passes for 192 yards. He used his feet to extend plays in the passing game, which wasn't something Cook had displayed at a confident level this season.

His play wasn't a reason Missouri was going to win the game. He threw three straight incomplete passes on an 18-second drive that resulted in a punt in the fourth quarter. MU never got the ball back again after that.

However, he was more confident in his deep ball and didn't hesitate on his throws.

That was a step forward in his development as a starter.

Grade: B

Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis

Perhaps the only way Harrison Mevis could have had a better game was if he nailed a field goal to beat Georgia. Instead, he'll settle for hitting all five of his field-goal attempts.

His long on the night was 56 yards. Four of his five field goals were beyond 40 yards and two were beyond 50.

After missing an excruciatingly painful field goal that would have beat Auburn, Mevis bounced back in one of the biggest ways possible.

The Thiccer Kicker is back.

Grade: A

Missouri linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper

This is why you get that player. This game is why it was meaningful when Tyrone Hopper got his cousin to transfer to Missouri.

For what seemed like the majority of the night, Ty'Ron Hopper was the best player on the field that featured a team that will most likely have multiple first-round NFL Draft picks.

Hopper recorded seven tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. He was the heart of a defense that proved its mettle against the No. 1 team in the country.

Hopper proved he's rapidly becoming one of the best linebackers in the Southeastern Conference.

Grade: A

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Grading Mizzou football in its near-upset of Georgia