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Pregamin’ Tennessee

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He’s a bit under-leveled, but give him a chance!
Jack Peglow

Gameday hype:


1. The Volunteers are one of the toughest squads the Tigers will face off against this season, but that doesn't mean they're unbeatable. In your opinion, what is Tennessee's biggest weakness and how would you like to see Mizzou exploit it?

Chris Bohkay - Their defense is very, what's the Italian word, ah yes, "Fra Gile." They'll give up a boatload of points if you try. Also, there's a good possibility they'll have to play iron man football at some point. Finally, their coach looks like he's ready to pop at any point and that's never a good look.

dcrockett17 - Two things: the defense seems like a high variance unit overall. Even when they play well, they don't always play well the same way. There are plays and points to be had. Add to that, Dobbs is prone to have a quarter, maybe even two where he just kind makes a mess of everything.

Jack Peglow - If Mizzou’s defense can keep the pressure going like they have been the past two weeks, there’s a real possibility that they can force Dobbs into some mistakes. He’s very good, but the isn’t immune to such things. The other big thing to attack is Butch Jones’ temper. The redder his face gets, the better shot Mizzou has of pulling off the upset.

PBoggs - Tennessee has a hard time stopping a balanced offense, specifically run first. If Crockett gets room and good blocking, Mizzou will exploit their run defense.

Josh Matejka - The defense is inconsistent to the point that I think Missouri might actually be able to beat them in a variety of ways. Missouri just needs to avoid letting UT's defense get into a rhythm by settling for #HeupelDrive and not making them work or adjust.

AlaTiger - As everyone has said, Tennessee's defense is not all that. Establish the run, utilize the TE over the middle, and open up some deep shots and this could be a game. It would also be helpful if Tennessee served up a helping of Derp Dobbs rather than his effective alter ego.

Sam Snelling - Their biggest weakness is Butch Jones. Mizzou is gonna win because Butch sucks.

2. It's quite possible - nearly probable - that Damarea Crockett will surpass 1,000 yards rushing before the conclusion of the season, which is thrilling. Lost amidst the fanfare of his chase, however, is the even more sure probability that Drew Lock will become Mizzou's first 3,000-yard passer since Blaine Gabbert eclipsed the 3k mark in 2010. In your opinion, which milestone would be more impressive? Why?

Bohkay - I would say Crockett only because of his age, the uncertainty surrounding the line and the fact that when you're losing as much as Mizzou has you tend to fling the ball around more. That's not to take away from Drew who is clearly a LOCK for Heisman next year.

dcrockett17 - Crockett is by far the more impressive player to my mind because his floor seems considerably higher. Apart from early fumble trouble, there's not been a lot of variance in the quality of his carries. As a runner he reminds me a bit of S. Carolina's Marcus Lattimore. (Side note: He was just named head coach of a local high school here in a Columbia last week.) You can nitpick some carries and maybe his pass pro, but it's hard to say Crockett hasn't maxed out his touches given where he is developmentally.

Lock plays in the world's most QB friendly offense, but the game-to-game variance in his play (hell, series-to-series) makes the 3000 yd mark less impressive. He's had a ton of drops (good heavens), but also a boatload of flat out misses and silly interceptions. Cut the misses (so often based on sloppy footwork) and mindless interceptions in half--both easily within his capacity--and he's probably pushing 3500 yds and Mizzou is probably going bowling.

Peglow - I think Crockett’s is the more impressive milestone not because of either his or Drew’s performance, but because of what they each have around them on the offense. Lock is young, yes, but he has a large stable of immensely athletic receivers on the other end of his passes (drops aside). Crockett on the other hand, has been running behind an unproven offensive line that’s much better at pass blocking than run blocking. It’s still very close, though.

PBoggs - Crockett surpassing 1,000 yards is much more important than Drew surpassing 3,000 yards. Mizzou needs to build a foundation around a solid run game, and getting Crockett some confidence going forward is the first step.

Matejka - How could it not be Crockett? Drew Lock is a talent, and I'm convinced he'll be an NFL starter by the time he leaves Columbia. But this is an offense built to stack his numbers. Crockett, on the other hand, was largely ignored toward the first half of the season. It's been evident since early September he was the guy for the job, and he only recently got that job. Lock is impressive, but Crockett's success is impressive on its own, and in the fact it enables Lock to be better down the road.

AlaTiger - Clearly Crockett, especially considering how underutilized he was early.

Snelling - Crockett because he's a freshman probably, but both having confidence going into 2017 is going to be a nice stepping stone for an offense that will return just about everyone.

3. Regardless of who had the more accomplished 2016 campaign, both Crockett and Lock will certainly be major keys to Mizzou's success in 2017. How do you envision Josh Heupel divvying up the offensive load next season, and how much do you think the Tigers will be able to improve?

Bohkay - I think they'll improve 43% each over this year, with nary a regression. Hopefully in the offseason Crockett works on his fumbliness and Drew works on not LOCKING on his receivers all the time.

dcrockett17 - I said last week, this needs to be more of a run-to-throw offense as we've seen the past few weeks. A credible run threat opens things up for the pass, even beyond play action. Obviously, Odom didn't hire Josh Huepel to run Stanford's offense, but I think the high-volume passing attack is not the best thing for Lock or the team. I'm indifferent to tempo, and think way too much has been made of it. (It's become the football equivalent of batting order in baseball, where people are arguing over microscopic effects.)

Peglow - I would love to see Heupel maintain the same kind of balance that he’s utilized this season. Both players have the ability to make plays, there’s no reason to sideline one of them (metaphorically, of course) so that the other can shine a bit brighter. If they can accomplish this, I would expect the offense to continue taking steps forward just like it has during the last few games.

PBoggs - Heupel will and should call similar plays as to this year. The amount of points, and possibly wins, that Mizzou lost off of dropped passes this year was one of the highest in Mizzou's history. Train and coach the speedy receivers on catching, and the points will come.

Matejka - I think Heupel is adjusting well to the emergence of Crockett, and I really don't have any problems with how he's been calling plays - though he still displays a troubling habit of abandoning the run for periods of time. Really the biggest jump will come from the progression of the wide receiver corp, though Crockett and Lock will factor in. With Moore, Mason, Johnson, Blanton, Reese and (hopefully) a viable Nate Brown, the offense will be able to put up points it lost this year, simply by not shooting themselves in the foot.

AlaTiger - A balanced offense that establishes the run first and doesn't randomly abandon it for a quarter at a time. Plus a ton of off-season work on footwork, reads, and catching the dang ball.

Snelling - I don't know about next year, but this year should be about 50% bone package the rest of the way.

Your eyes have met ours, Vols. Now we must do battle.
Jack Peglow