'Old-man football': Missouri's playbook had Georgia on its mind

Saturday, October 12, 2013 | 8:18 p.m. CDT; updated 10:34 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 12, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. — Bud Sasser's touchdown pass to L'Damian Washington is the play everyone will remember from Missouri's 41-26 upset win over No. 7 Georgia on Saturday, but the Tigers sealed the victory by playing "old-man football."

Clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, Missouri was battling its toughest adversity of the season. Sixteen unanswered points from Georgia loomed large, the crowd at Sanford Stadium was deafening, and the Tigers' offense was stagnant.

That's when Missouri's offensive line remembered its motto.

"As an offensive line, when the momentum started shifting, we said, 'We have to put it on the line, man,'" senior guard Max Copeland said. "That's our motto. 'Put it on the line.'"

That's exactly what offensive coordinator Josh Henson did. With starting quarterback James Franklin sidelined, Missouri turned to the running game — old-man football.

Runs of 6 and 9 yards set up Sasser's improbable touchdown pass, and on the next two drives, playing with a lead, Missouri's offensive line got stronger and stronger.

Consider it a late validation of Sheldon Richardson's controversial comments about Georgia playing "old-man football" before the two teams played in 2012.

In last season's game against Georgia, Missouri wore down in the fourth quarter, letting a lead slip away and ending up with a 41-20 loss in its first game in the Southeastern Conference.

Saturday's win was the opposite.

"Yeah, we played some old-man football today," Copeland said with a laugh. "It was a pretty good time." 

Maybe even more important than the strong showing from the offensive line was the defense's ability to create turnovers. The Tigers forced the Bulldogs into four turnovers and did not turn the ball over once themselves. That, along with the 142 rushing yards Missouri accumulated, was an old-school recipe for success.

"They did a really good job of securing the ball and we didn't," Georgia coach Mark Richt said after the game. "You hear coaches say it over and over, but you can't win a game turning the ball over like that."

The high-flying offensive attack Missouri has utilized in the first half of the season, along with the dominance of the passing game in the first half against Georgia led Richardson, now with the New York Jets, to voice his opinion on the Bulldogs' playing style once again.

"I promise u UGA u are gonna lose this game..#old man football," Richardson tweeted.

Richardson may have been taking a shot at Georgia by calling its playing style "old-man football," but it turns out that's exactly what Missouri needed when the going got tough on Saturday. 

"We were determined," Copeland said. "We came here to win. We didn't come here to just hang with them."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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