Hmsdf... huh... what? What? Wassgoingon?
OH SHOOT, IT’S FOOTBALL TIME AGAIN! NO, I WASN’T NAPPING OR DREAMING ABOUT BASKETBALL!
WELCOME BACK TO PREGAMIN’, Y’ALL!
We had another rueful showing in the Pregamin’ Kentucky edition, but Ryan came close enough to justify not wiping the board again. He retakes the lead from Mitch, and Nate and I (Dad Pod!) will do our best to stop him from wrapping up the scoreboard probably for good.
So wrap yourself in bubble wrap, squish a rotten peach in your fist and get ready, BECAUSE THE TIGERS ARE HEADED TO JAWJIA!
What’s Barry Odom’s November record again?
So Fresh and So Clean, Clean
The outcome may not end up being good, but Missouri will look good no matter what.
Seriously, major props to the equipment team this year. The looks have been a little inconsistent, but when they’re good, they’re incredible.
So uh... does anyone feel good about this game?
Just a few weeks ago, Missouri was 5-1 and the odds-on favorite to win the SEC East. Now the Tigers face an uphill climb to even get to 8 wins. What’s been the biggest thorn in this team’s paw?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: The disintegration of the offensive line. When Missouri ripped off the five-game win streak at home, the line was doing everything it needed to. It opened up holes for Larry Rountree III. It gave Kelly Bryant enough time to find his receivers, who have had trouble getting open all year. It’s not as though the line had been great, but it was certainly good enough.
In these past two games, though, the line has been bulldozed by weaker opponents. Rountree, who needs holes in order to bulldoze defenders, can’t find any space to run. Bryant, already less mobile after the Troy incident, hasn’t had time to make anything happen. A line that came into the season as one of the dominant portions of the roster has allowed 13 TFLs and 7 sacks to the 45th and (sigh) 95th ranked defenses. Out of all the issues this offense has had, the line has been the biggest.
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: The receivers. It’s never good when you drop the ball, and Mizzou’s receivers currently have a 26 percent drop rate. It’s been the worst in the past three games and it bit them in two. If they could cut the drops in half it would go so much further in helping get the offense back on track.
Ryan Herrera, Lead Football Beat Writer: I’m basically beating a dead horse right now but offensive line play, offensive line play, offensive line play. The offensive line is what makes the offense go, and the last two games, the line has done the rest of the offense no favors. The run game hasn’t had the openings to build a rhythm, Kelly Bryant has had to shift around the pocket and scramble more often than he’s wanted to, and even when the offense has moved the chains, we’re seeing it get called back due to bone-headed false start or holding penalties.
Case in point: Bryant’s 10-yard run on Missouri’s second drive against Kentucky that got the Tigers to the Wildcats’ 15 and deep in field goal range, the one that ended with him pulling up lame running out of bounds (which eventually was revealed to be a right hamstring injury), was called back instead because Yasir Durant was flagged for holding.
Every unit on the offense has to take blame for the offensive woes, sure. Bryant has had a couple down games, the running backs haven’t gotten going and the receivers have seemingly done just as much dropping as catching. But when Missouri’s offensive line is consistently one of the best in the nation, seeing it struggle this much is a huge concern.
Much of the football talk this week has centered around Kelly Bryant and if he’ll be able to go against the Bulldogs. Seeing as Bryant is most effective when he’s mobile, should the Tigers roll with a limited Bryant or take their chances with Taylor Powell?
Josh Matejka: If Bryant wants to go, you let him go. Usually I’m not on the train of, “play the injured QB in a game you’re not likely to win,” but even a hobbled Bryant is still better for Missouri than Taylor Powell. I understand that Missouri is currently thin at QB depth, but the sophomore from Arkansas has a 42.3 completion percentage. The offense has never looked good when he’s behind center. At this juncture, you need a proven QB to work with Missouri’s group of receivers, and Powell is anything but proven.
Nate Edwards: If KB is anything but 100 percent, I say roll with Powell and just take the L. Even with a healthy Bryant, Georgia should just best the hell out of us. No reason to press an already injured KB into possibly causing more damage in (a probable) lost cause. I know, my positivity is down right palpable. (editor’s note: nobody likes a negative nate)
Ryan Herrera: Considering what Barry Odom said on the SEC conference call Wednesday, there’s a lot of hope that Bryant will be healthy and will play Saturday. But in the spirit of the question, I’d have to say rolling with a limited Bryant is the right move. Listen, Georgia’s defense is elite; the Bulldogs are the only defense in the country that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown. So even with a fully mobile Bryant, it’ll be very tough for Missouri’s ground game to produce much of anything. At that point, when the Tigers are forced to try to move the ball through the air, they need to have their best arm out there. They need to go with Bryant.
Georgia looks like a tall mountain to climb, but the one team that already did it lost to Missouri by quite a bit earlier this year! What does Missouri need to do if they’re to hand the Bulldogs their second loss?
Josh Matejka: It’s an easy answer (almost too easy), but the defense is going to have to pick up the offense. Jake Fromm is an efficient, but not exactly explosive QB who thrives on playing off the run. Per usual, the Bulldogs boast a stable of excellent running backs led by the versatile D’Andre Swift. If the defense can limit the run game and force Jake Fromm into third-and-longs, they might have a shot at making this a fight. But they’ll likely have to do it all game if Missouri wants a really good opportunity at downing the Dogs.
Nate Edwards: Force 3+ turnovers. South Carolina managed four and gave up zero and still required the Bulldogs to miss on a few fourth downs and have the best kicker in the nation miss a field goal. Turnovers and then a truck load of luck should get it done!
Ryan Herrera: The offensive line needs to play close to the level it did against Ole Miss, the receiving corps (especially Albert Okwuegbunam) need to produce more than the 65 yards they had against Kentucky and the defense can’t be susceptible to Georgia’s run game. Those things seem to be the three most glaring issues over the current losing streak, and Missouri just can’t let these problems be problems if it wants to have any sort of chance.
PICK ‘EM! Score (and over/under) and pick a game MVP.
Josh Matejka: One of the best teams in the country goes up against a team coming off a bye and their worst two weeks of football. Weirder things have happened, but it’s hard to see a reality where Missouri wins. Georgia 27, Missouri 13. Tyler Badie logs 150+ total yards and score through the air.
Nate Edwards: You could put any total out there and I’d take the under. MVP will be Nick Bolton.
Ryan Herrera: Georgia is coming off a huge win over Florida, but I don’t think the high from that game will affect the outcome of this one. The Bulldogs win 30-17, which just stays under the line, and Albert Okweugbunam is the MVP (I’m feeling very optimistic) with a touchdown, a season-high six receptions and 90 receiving yards.