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Opportunity awaits for Missouri’s Emanuel Hall

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The big-play junior takes over for Dimetrios Mason in the Tiger starting lineup.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri released its game notes and depth chart a week early this time around, posting it on Monday instead of Tuesday. The only identifiable change from the last depth chart is that Dimetrios Mason is no longer on it.

Of course, we know there will be changes on defense. Barry Odom has said as much. None are reflected on the depth chart, so there’s no need to break it down in any major detail. It’s a worthless document.

Instead of wasting time on it, let’s talk about the pressing story line facing each side of the ball as the Tigers prepare for Kentucky.

Moving on from Mason

Josh Heupel spoke to the media on Monday.

Posted by Rock M Nation on Monday, October 2, 2017

The main topic of conversation: Emanuel Hall, first-stringer.

“I don’t think there will be a big adjustment for Emanuel,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “He’s played a good amount of football for us. He’s ready to go play at a high level.”

A crushing hit by a Purdue linebacker on a crossing pattern and an early knock against Auburn hampered what might have been bigger days for Hall based on the gameplan.

“The last couple weeks we were planning on him getting a bigger role in what we were doing,” Heupel said. “A couple injuries in the early part of the ballgame limited him going forward.”

Since Heupel took over the offense, Hall has caught 24 of 41 passes for 411 yards and a solid 51 percent success rate. He has been used mostly as a downfield target, though, and he’s now replacing the guy most likely to be hovering underneath the coverage. Mason’s primary role was as a possession guy. It’ll be interesting to see how roles change.

Other offensive notes:

  • Drew Lock is still ugly. Heupel on Lock’s broken nose: “He’s fine. He’s still ugly, but he’s fine.”
  • Justin Smith is still hurt. There’s an open opportunity in the receiving corps, but the 6’7 sophomore just can’t get healthy: “Missouri’s receiving corps is still without redshirt sophomore Justin Smith, whose knee injury in camp limited his participation. Smith is still on crutches and is not practicing.”

It’s all about the defense

We know all the ways in which the Missouri offense has stunk over the last few weeks. But the problems have been relegated mostly to passing downs. Mizzou is a solid 23rd in standard downs success rate and 61st in overall success rate. We were hoping for more from the O, but it’s at least mediocre.

The defense: 118th in success rate, 119th in explosiveness. The defense is worse than it was last year, and until it rights the ship, offensive improvement will be for naught.

Odom spoke to the media on Monday as well.

Missouri Head Coach Barry Odom addressed the media following the bye week

Posted by Rock M Nation on Monday, October 2, 2017

The primary takeaway: bring on the freshmen.

Odom has indicated some freshmen could have expanded roles when the season resumes at Kentucky. On Monday he mentioned four who might get more snaps this week: safeties Tyree Gillespie and Jordan Ulmer, inside linebacker Jamal Brooks and running back Larry Rountree III.

Ulmer started the opener but vanished from the rotation after some early struggles.

“Last week was good for him getting some confidence back,” Odom said.

I’m still expecting us to see more three-man fronts from the Tigers ... actually, let me rephrase: we better see more three-man fronts. It’s a potential strength, and Missouri needs all the potential strengths it can get.

Other defensive notes:

  • Scheme doesn’t really matter if you’re missing tackles. It was an issue last year, and it’s no less of an issue this year. “Tackling has been a challenge thus far for the Tigers, especially among the team’s secondary unit. Heading into the the bye week, cornerback DeMarkus Acy had the second-highest missed-tackle rate (33.3 percent) of anyone in the SEC, according to College Football Film Room.”
  • When your first- and second-down defense is bad, your third-down defense will be, too. It’s been quite bad, though. “Through four games, Missouri’s opponents have converted on third down 49 percent of the time — a rate which ranks last in the Southeastern Conference and 120th ... in the Football Bowl Subdivision. ... Odom said it was ‘absolutely’ a focus for the team during its bye week.”