Each game has its certain matchups within the game that are oh so very important to the outcome. Matchups so important that they can be the difference in a win and a loss. For every game this season, I’ll be taking a look at the three most important matchups regarding an individual or even between position groups.
1st Down: Missouri’s Defensive Line vs Mississippi State’s Offensive Line
Missouri’s D-Line took a beating last week, and going into this week, Coach Drink has said that basically the entire starting unit is questionable for this game. If we can get the usual starters on the field, this could be a chance for a bit of a get right game for them. There will be a lot of chances to rush the passer considering that Mississippi State offense passes the ball 85% of the time, and they’ve given up 28 sacks this season as a result of it. If Missouri can get enough of the starters into this game, this is a matchup they should be able to win. After the week that they had last week, you could chalk it up to simply not being talented enough. If the defensive line can’t control the line of scrimmage in this matchup, it won’t be because of a mismatch of talent.
2nd Down: Ennis Rakestraw, Ishmael Burdine and JC Carlies vs Mississippi State WR’s
Last week against Georgia, there wasn’t much to celebrate. As a secondary, they were scorched. This week there shouldn’t be anyone who is of the same caliber of talent that George Pickens was. Still, Mississippi State, like I said earlier, passes 85% of the time. That just means more opportunities for these guys to make plays, right?
Seriously though, even in the lopsided matchup that these corners were part of last week, they did some decent things. The coverage itself wasn’t always that bad. They just couldn’t ever seem to finish plays. This week, the matchup is a bit more even, and I expect a better display from these young fellas. The keys for these guys are the same every week. Communicate at a high level, and be disciplined at a high level.
This is a great opportunity for all three of these young, talented corners. They’re all getting a chance to get better in a live game circumstance, and prove to the staff that they can be counted on going forward. I predict one interception by one of these gentleman.
3rd Down: Connor Bazelak vs Mississippi State Defense
This Mississippi State defense is ripe for the picking. All season long we have heard how Bazelak is a “game manager” and how he doesn’t score touchdowns. This week is a great opportunity to reverse that trend. This same Bulldog defense gave up 336 passing yards to Vanderbilt’s own, Ken Seals. They also picked him off three times, but hey, it happens. Seals isn’t the only one to do some damage against this defense through the air. JT Daniels had 400+. Myles Brennan torched them, and so did Mac Jones. (Who does Mac Jones not torch?) This tells me that QB’s of all tiers in this conference, from the lower end, to the cream of the crop, have put up numbers on this secondary.
I fully expect this to be a bit of a showcase game for Bazelak. I expect Drink to let him open it up a bit, and let him take some shots down the field. It’s been a long year of handing off to Larry Rountree III anytime this offense gets remotely close to the end zone, but this week, Bazelak is gonna add a few statistics to his name.
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