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Stat Breakdown: Missouri’s defense came to life in the red zone

The Tigers clamped down to halt multiple Alabama drives, Tyler Badie did the best he could with what he was given, and other takeaways from Saturday’s stat sheet.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: Missouri’s defense overall did not have a great performance Saturday.

Giving up 564 total yards, allowing multiple 50+ yards plays and barely putting pressure on the quarterback is not what’s considered a great performance. But when Alabama made its way into the red zone, the Tigers found some success.

The Crimson Tide found themselves within Missouri’s 20-yard line on seven different occasions, but only three of those trips ended in touchdowns. Sure, Alabama still scored another three times on field goals, but with how poor the defense has been at keeping teams out of the end zone, this is a good thing.

Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed just 3 of 9 passes for 22 yards in the red zone, while his backup, Jalen Hurts, ran for 15 yards on three carries. Damien Harris and Najee Harris added 18 yards on eight rushes, a grand total of 2.25 yards-per-carry.

So while the defense didn’t play particularly great Saturday, the Tigers showed they were capable of stopping offenses from crossing the goal line. Even the secondary — which had been the reason Alabama reached the red zone on multiple drives — aided in keeping the Crimson Tide out of the end zone (see: Adam Sparks wisely pushing an airborne DeVonta Smith out of bounds on what would have been a touchdown reception).

Alabama went into Saturday having scored touchdowns on 27 of 33 red zone trips. Its current squad deploys more weapons offensively than most teams can hope for, and they were going up against Missouri’s disappointing 2018 defensive unit.

For the Tigers to play the way they did when the Crimson Tide took the ball deep into their territory, that’s certainly a positive.

Badie impresses without many opportunities

Tyler Badie has been a bright spot for this Missouri offense all season.

The freshman has rushed for 275 yards on 56 carries through six games in 2018. His 4.91 yards-per-carry average is actually ahead of Damarea Crockett’s 4.69 and just behind Larry Rountree III’s 5.07. One of the biggest questions heading into the season was how Crockett and Rountree would share carries, but Badie has forced his way into the conversation with his success on the field.

So why, then, was he only given the ball six times against Alabama?

Yes, the Crimson Tide’s defense is probably the best in the nation, and no, Badie is not yet ready to supplant Crockett or Rountree when Derek Dooley has to decide whose number to call, but he has proven by now that he can be trusted with the ball in his hands.

Remember the final drive of the win over Purdue? Yeah, that was Badie alongside Drew Lock leading the Tigers down the field.

Badie ran for 41 yards in his limited carries against Alabama. His 6.8 yards-per-carry average was by far the best of the running back unit and was the only one above three. He also had the only rush of over 10 yards.

Missouri wasn’t going to win Saturday, regardless of who was given the ball. Badie, though, has shown that he deserves a good share of the carries moving forward.

Other notable Week 7 stats

  • Lock finally ended his passing touchdown drought Saturday when he found Jalen Knox on a 20-yarder in the first quarter. Lock hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass since the Purdue game almost a full month prior, and the drought lasted roughly 172 game minutes. It wasn’t a pretty game for the senior, but at least he finally got that out of the way.
  • Speaking of Knox, he led the team with 61 yards on just three receptions, and his 24-yard catch down the right sideline in the second quarter was the longest reception of anyone in the receiving corps. Of all the freshmen on the Tigers, Knox is the only one that rivals Badie in how big they’ve been in keeping the offense moving.
  • Corey Fatony is still fantastic at pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory. Fatony had six punts for 262 yards, including two for over 50 yards and four that landed inside Alabama’s 20.