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Stat Breakdown: Okwuegbunam, Knox break the 100-yard barrier

The tight end/receiver combo combined for 263 receiving yards, the defense stepped up against a high-powered Memphis offense and other takeaways from Saturday’s stat sheet.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Only three times this season had a Missouri player caught for over 100 yards in a single game heading into the Week 8 matchup with Memphis.

Emanuel Hall did it twice in the first two games of the season — both times for 171 yards again UT-Martin and Wyoming — while Jalen Knox had 110 receiving yards against Purdue. It hasn’t been since Knox’s big game in Week 3 that a player has come within even 19 yards of the triple-digit threshold.

On Saturday, and for the first time all year, Missouri actually had two players complete the feat.

Knox was the first to pass 100, breaking the barrier on a 6-yard reception with around two minutes left in the second quarter — which ended up being his last catch of the game. Albert Okwuegbunam broke 100 just three plays later on a 47-yard touchdown catch over the middle, giving him 108 of his team-leading 159 yards.

With No. 1 and 2 options Hall and Nate Brown missing the past three games, the air attack has faltered. After the impressive showing from the receiving corps against Memphis, though, the question now becomes whether they can put another one together against Kentucky this weekend.

Defense improves on recent success

Through the first six games of the season, Missouri’s front line was by far the bright spot on defense.

While the Tigers’ secondary allowed an average of 301 yards-per-game in the air, the run-defense gave up just 120 rushing yards-per-game. Against Memphis, the defense did give up 200 yards on the ground, but in a game with 28 total drives combined between both teams, both squads were bound to pick up some yards.

What was encouraging about the defense, though, was the play of the secondary.

Missouri allowed just 208 yards in the air — its lowest total since Week 2 — and forced 23 incompletions. Christian Holmes and Adam Sparks both had interceptions, doubling the Tigers’ total on the season.

Sure, Memphis still put up 408 total yards and scored 33 points, but again, its offense had 14 different drives to do so. The 408 yards are also the fourth lowest Missouri has allowed all season.

So while it won’t go down as the greatest defensive performance in Tigers’ history, it was still quite the defensive display against a top-tier offense.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Other notable Week 8 stats

  • After a string of underwhelming performances, Drew Lock finally looked like the guy who was a Heisman-candidate again. Lock threw for 350 yards, four touchdowns and a season-high completion percentage of 79.3. He also had 36 rushing yards, his second-highest total in 2018.
  • Larry Rountree III was insanely efficient on the ground. The sophomore ran for 118 yards on just nine rushes for 13.1 yards-per-carry — by far the highest number of any Missouri running back this season. Rountree also punched in three touchdowns against Memphis, bringing his total to seven on the year.
  • Missouri beat Memphis in almost every relevant offensive category: total yards (646 to 408), yards-per-play (9.0 to 5.0), total first downs (30 to 25), and offensive touchdowns (eight to four), just to name a few.