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Missouri has to step up its running game in the next few weeks

One-dimensional offenses just don’t cut it when you play in the SEC.

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

Missouri had one of the more obscure games offensively against Georgia this past Saturday, as all four of the Tigers’ touchdowns came on the ground.

I’ll personally give you $20 if you predicted that’s how Missouri’s offense would put up 29 against the second-ranked Bulldogs. No takers? Alright, let’s move on.

Obviously, Drew Lock is the key cog to this offense. There’s no denying that. But Missouri can’t rely solely on his arm in a one-dimensional offense in Southeastern Conference play.

Its defense simply isn’t good enough to limit teams enough to where Lock and the offense doesn’t have to be sharp every possession. When you have a quarterback of Lock’s caliber, the task of driving down the field efficiently most every possession is much more doable than some may think.

However, Missouri’s offense will be tested in its next two games on the road against South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama. The Gamecocks rank 23rd in the country in passing yards allowed (168.7 ypg with a 48 percent completion rate), while the Crimson Tide have the second-most sacks in the nation with 16.

Lock will certainly have his hands full with both defenses, but can see the field open up a little more if his running backs can build off the momentum from a solid game against Georgia.

Missouri may utilize more of a rush attack than usual in their contest against South Carolina Oct. 6, as the Gamecocks have the 75th-best rush defense in the country (163 ypg). Georgia boasts an elite one-two punch in Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift, similar to Missouri’s tandem of Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III — not to mention the emergence of true freshman Tyler Badie.

Holyfield, Swift and Co. thrashed the Gamecocks’ run defense, rushing for 271 yards (5.2 ypc) and three touchdowns in Georgia’s 41-17 victory in Week Two. While Missouri shouldn’t expect as gaudy numbers as those, it’s feasible to believe the Tigers will have a big game on the ground.

Crockett, Rountree and Badie have had big games the past two weeks, going for a combined 396 yards on 73 carries (5.42 ypc). After Saturday’s loss to Georgia, Crockett touched on how the running backs and offensive line are just finally starting to hit their stride.

If that’s the case, production from Missouri’s trio of backs has to continue if they’re going to have a successful year. Lock is a phenomenal quarterback, but as we saw against Georgia, he’s vulnerable. The Bulldogs played a shell-type of defense where the secondary can’t get beat up top, forcing Lock to read defenses more and force throws in tighter windows. They also pressured Lock throughout the game — something most SEC defenses are more than capable of doing.

But as soon as Missouri’s ground game got going in the second half, the field opened up for Lock. It’s a completely different offense that, if they can convert more often in the red zone, is as good as any in the country.

It all starts in the trenches and on the ground, though.