Each game has 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.
Missouri’s Offense vs Tennessee’s Offense
Usually you won’t see me talking about two offenses competing against each other, but this is a rare exception. Missouri, whos run defense has been well documented, is giving up 38 points a game to power five competition. Tennessee, has somehow been worse against power five competition, giving up just under 40 points a game to power five competition. Each team has a small sample size, (just two games) but even on their best days you won’t confuse either team for a defensive juggernaut. That’s why it’s all the more important for Missouri’s offense to beat Tennessee’s offense in the turnover battle, and in time of possession. Limiting turnovers, and limiting your defense’s exposure in the game is paramount to getting a victory.
The offenses will both probably need to match scores to keep the game competitive, and I think they’re both capable of doing exactly that. I expect to see a lot of yards, and a lot of bad defensive football. I think the team that flinches first, is going to give the game away. That could be by getting stopped, or turning the ball over. Regardless, each team is going to need to score every point that they can this week.
The Missouri Defense vs The Tennessee Tempo
Josh Heupel is well known for his tempo, and I think there’s a strong chance we see a lot of it on Saturday. Knowing that the Missouri defense is in shambles, Heupel will try and speed them up and hope to catch them out of position. It’ll be important that Mizzou has a clean game and try and hold Tennessee to minimal yardage on first and second down. If Missouri can keep Tennessee in third and 7+, and make it difficult to get that first, first down, they can also limit how much tempo Heupel and the Vols can do.
If we learned anything from Heupel’s offense from his time in Missouri, his offense can really struggle if you don’t allow them to get that first, first down of the drive. That’s when they want to start going up-tempo and when they’re going up-tempo, that’s when they operate at their most efficient level.
Keke Chism vs Tennessee’s Secondary
Keke Chism has had a nice start to the season, and is another player on this roster who has benefitted from a second season in the Drinkwitz system. He’s been steady. Nothing overly flashy, but he has made plays including many third down catches and been a reliable target for Connor Bazelak. There is an increasingly nice rapport there with those two, by the way.
He’s going against an experienced secondary, who will surely try and test him in a lot of one on one in man coverage, and he’s got to find a way to continue to win those battles. Not to mention, this offense does have to find a way to get an increased downfield presence. That can’t be just a QB issue, this is a WR issue too. If Chism can keep winning, and downfield at that, Missouri may be in for a nice surprise this week.