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Pregamin’ Ole Miss

FIVE SCORE AND EIGHT YEARS AGO, OUR FOUNDERS BROUGHT FORTH ON THIS CONTINENT A NEW SCHOOL... AND WE’RE PREGAMIN’ TO CELEBRATE!

♪OLD MISSOURI, FAIR MISSOURI, DEEEEEAR OLD VAR-SI-TYYYYYYYYYYYYYY♪

Oh wait, don’t we do that after games? Oh, sorry just got a little overzealous.

Welcome back to another week of Pregamin’, friends! And a very happy Homecoming to all True Sons and Daughters everywhere.

As we head into this week’s Pregamin’ matchup, let’s take a look at the scoreboard.

Pregamin’ Scoreboard

Writer Wins
Writer Wins
Ryan Herrera 3
Mitch Hill 2
Ryan Faller 1
Sean MacKinnon 1
Tim Bussen 0
Nate Edwards 0
Brandon Kiley 0
Josh Matejka 0

After Ryan’s ferocious run to start the year, Mitch Hill is on his own little run over the past two weeks. However, BK and Nate have come close to unseating the champ before. We’ll see if they can get themselves on the board heading into the end of the schedule’s first half.

Now load up your muskets, don your Union blues golds and crack a cold one. We’re welcoming the Rebels of Ole Miss to Appomattox Columbia only to send them whistling back to Dixie with a big fat L. Just like 1865, right?

Highlights. Hype. Homecoming.

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

Can we talk about the low-key genius of having Daniel Parker Jr. as the uniform model for Homecoming? Kansas City kid who’s turning into the next great tight end, showing off his personality on the quad next to the columns... [chef’s kiss]

As for the uniforms, I’m a big fan. I know when it comes to big colors like gold that less can be more, but I like the boldness of the gold redesign on the helmets. I’ve always liked the gold uniforms, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy them with a gold lid.

Also...

BLOCK M SZN, LET’S GET WEIRD.

How’s Everyone Feeling?

While the win over Troy offered us a bit of a mixed bag, let’s start with the positives. What most encouraged you about the Tigers dominance last Saturday?

Mitch Hill, Podcast Producer: Two wins in a row! Three wins in a row is a winning streak, right?! Anyways, I am most encouraged by the fact that Mizzou came out of the game fast. Sure, Troy scored on their first drive, but there really was nothing to be mad about with how Mizzou started this game. We all know what the history was coming off of a bye week, and that was the total opposite of what we have become used to.

Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer: How about the defense? Yeah, definitely the defense. This defense has now proven in back-to-back-to-back-to-back games that it’s not the same unit we saw take the field in Wyoming. I will never understand what truly happened in that game, but I digress.

The defense was dominant. They allowed 3.2 yards per play. That would be a good game for a run defense. To do that to an entire offense for a game? Sheesh. Barry Odom’s unit showed up in a big way in a game that could have been easy to come out flat. We’ve seen the Tigers come out of the bye lackadaisical before. That certainly wasn’t the case against Troy.

Nate Edwards, Football Editor: Easily the best thing to come from the Troy game was affirmation that the defense is good. Despite being a G5 team, Troy’s Offense is one of the best on the entire schedule, and the defense smothered them. There are a few more tests to go, but Troy was an excellent showcase that, yes, the defense is elite.

Alright, let’s get to it — Cale Garrett is out for the year, Richaud Floyd is out at least a week and Kelly Bryant is “healthy”... whatever that means. Walk us through your thoughts on how each injury impacts your outlook.

Mitch Hill: On Cale: It sucks. Plain and simple. He was having an All-American/All Conference year and it was awesome to see how he has grown in the program. You lose the player who has been the best on the team and the QB of an intense defense, but the injury - for whatever reason - does not stop me from believing Mizzou wins 10 games (9 at the minimum).

I am very nervous about this Richaud Floyd injury, though, because without him, we have seen what Mizzou’s punt return game has been like. He is someone who I knew would catch the punt each time and maybe turn it into a big return. Turnovers on Special Teams can kill you, and without Floyd, I just hope Mizzou is OK fielding punts and does not turn it over and give a team a short field.

On KB: WHEWWWWWWWWWWW, that was a close one. The hit was not necessary and it looked bad. But he is supposedly playing this weekend (I don’t think Mizzou needs him to beat Ole Miss), but as with most every football team, your QB is the most important player.

Brandon Kiley: Cale Garrett - The most significant of the injuries, both in severity and in impact on the roster. There’s no way to over-hype what Garrett has done this season. He was playing at a legitimate All-American level. He’s one of five Mizzou players in the last 20 years to have at least three interceptions in the opening five games of a season. His 30 solo tackles are tied with ‘Spoon for the most by a Mizzou player through five games in the last 20 years. He was playing at a level we’ve rarely seen by any linebacker at Missouri. And now he’s gone. There is no “next man up” for that. There is no replacing that production. All you can do is hope that each and every player on the defense takes their game to another level to help make up for the loss of Garrett. The defense won’t look the same. It can still be very good. But it’s not going to be the same without him out there.

Kelly Bryant - I have no idea how Missouri avoided disaster here, but I’m so glad they did. I don’t see this as being all that significant, honestly. I doubt we’ll see much of the designed runs this week, but we really haven’t seen much of that this season to begin with. The one other thing I’ll be interested in watching is how much this impacts Bryant’s ability to scramble. He’s been tremendous on the run this season, so that could lower the ceiling on the offense a bit for a week or two. Regardless, I’m not sure that’ll matter much against Ole Miss.

Richaud Floyd - Floyd is a game-changer in the punt return game, but this is pretty clearly the least significant of the injuries. That’s not a shot at Floyd so much as it is a reality of how important Garrett and Bryant are to this team’s success. I would imagine we’ll see Johnathon Johnson handle those duties. He did so last year with Floyd out. He didn’t add the same dynamism in the return game, but he was steady and that’s really all they need for now.

Nate Edwards: Cale Garrett being injured = bad. He defended in position, swarmed to the ball, and was always making plays. The one game where he wasn’t as sharp was Wyoming and that’s where a few explosive gains in the ground made all the difference. Hopefully, the rest of the D can cover for his absence.

Richard Floyd being injured = sad. After being injured most of last season, I was hoping he would have a full slate of games to make an impact on special teams. I think the Tigers will be OK without him but, for his sake, I was really rooting for him to stay healthy this year.

Kelly Bryant being injured = mad. You can’t convince me that what Troy did to Kelly wasn’t bush league and, as I wrote in my “Count the Ifs” piece in the preseason, a magical season requires Bryant to be healthy. If some G5 scrub ruins this year with a cheap shot.... well, I’m not going to do anything about it, but I’ll be furious. So there. (editor’s note: love how your feelings rhyme)

Ole Miss isn’t the best team Missouri will face this season, but SEC wins are never a given. What’s Missouri’s biggest key to a winning at homecoming?

Mitch Hill: Protect Kelly Bryant and don’t make him do too much from a running stand point. Get that Big O-Line everyone has been talking about to stop being a question mark and establish Larry Three-Sticks™ in the run game and just control the game in the trenches. Wouldn’t hurt to get a few turnovers as well.

Brandon Kiley: Take advantage of the clear mismatches. Ole Miss is good against the run. Only Alabama has rushed for more than 5 yards per carry against them. But, they’re horrible against the pass. Arkansas, Southeast Louisiana, Cal & Alabama each threw for at least 300 yards against the Rebels. On the other side of the ball Ole Miss has been a pretty solid running team, but they’ve had very little going in the pass game.

Shut down the run, force Ole Miss into obvious passing situations, and take advantage of a pass defense that has been getting taken advantage of by everyone else thus far. Do that, and Missouri will win the game.

Nate Edwards: Limiting big plays on the ground. Even with Matt Corral at QB, the Rebels are one dimensional through the air. John Rhys Plumlee is a major threat running RichRod’s offense, and it’s all ground based. With Garrett, Mizzou was prone to giving up big plays; Ole Miss is good at creating them. The D-line needs to cave in the O-line and keep any run to 3-4 yards.

BONUS QUESTION: As we always do at HC every year, tell us: what’s your fondest homecoming memory?

Mitch Hill: For me (and just strictly as it relates to football) being from Oklahoma and raised as a Mizzou person, it has to be beating OU in 2010. That game was insane and I loved every second of it.

Brandon Kiley: It’s not a *Mizzou* homecoming memory, but it’s a homecoming memory that involves Mizzou nonetheless. I remember going to Florida in 2014 to cover the game between the Tigers & Gators. At the time, none of us were really sure just how good Missouri was. If you remember, that was the year in which Missouri had a tremendous defense but an offense that sputtered from start to finish. Well, the Tigers went down to Florida and absolutely blew the doors off of Florida by a final score of 42-13... And they did so while finishing with 119 yards of total offense. Mizzou finished that game with six takeaways including two that were returned for touchdowns, and the Tigers added a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown as well. It was the craziest thing I think I’ve ever seen.

Nate Edwards: The fondest one I can share would be 2010: Stood in line for GameDay starting at 5am, practiced/drank/performed with the Marching Mizzou alumni band, then watch again McGaffie kickstart the victory over #1 Oklahoma.

PICK ‘EM! Score, over/under (54.5, though this could change), and MVP pick.

Mitch Hill: I am writing this on Tuesday, but as of now... Night game, big crowd, Nice weather... SO: Over 54.5. Mizzou wins this one 38-24. Larry Three-Sticks­™ is going to have a “Hello! Remember me?!” game with 2 TDs and between 150-200 total yards.

Brandon Kiley: I’ll take the Tigers to win by a final score of 38-24. That’ll go firmly over the current point total. Give me Albert O with a two touchdown performance as my MVP for this one.

Nate Edwards: There’s no point in me doing this due to the nebulous nature of having to pick an MVP. I mean, seriously, I’ve gotten the spread correct every time we do this, but because someone views a different player as mvp than I do I lose? Preposterous!

....regardless...

Over 54.5, MVP is Nick Bolton

[Editor’s Note: Minus one to Nate for being a complainer. Other Editor’s Note: SERIOUSLY.]