Each game has certain matchups within it 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 Defense vs South Carolina’s Running Backs
Missouri’s defense led an inspired first half effort on defense against the best team in the country, Georgia, last week. They held a talented stable of backs, and a top tier offensive line to a season low, 168 yards rushing. That is an encouraging sign for this defense, and one that should increase the optimism for this team going forward.
The biggest change for the group came along the defensive line, with the return of DL Darius Robinson. He’s provided Missouri with another big body, and that’s allowed them to play more snaps with three defensive tackles, plus Trajan Jeffcoat. This is going to be a major factor for this defense going forward.
This week though, South Carolina comes into this game with a lot of momentum and a stable of really talented running backs. Kevin Harris has had a down 2021, but has been productive and led the SEC in rushing last year. They also feature Zaquandre White, who is leading the Gamecocks in rushing as well. This group is more than good enough to bust a few long runs if Missouri can’t control gaps.
If Missouri is going to win this game, the defense is going to have to continue their improvement, and show that that last week wasn’t a fluke. With the running backs they’ll be facing, tackling is going to be for sure a huge factor. Florida gave up numerous chunk plays last week to this team because they simply couldn’t tackle. For Missouri, that will have to be an emphasis.
Tyler Macon and/or Brady Cook vs South Carolina’s Defense
This is being written under the impression that both QB’s will see time, and that Bazelak will be out for his second straight game due to injury.
Mizzou won’t have the benefit of playing quarterbacks who haven’t been seen on film, and in the case of Macon, in particular, the running element to his game won’t catch anyone by surprise. They’ve seen it, are aware that it’s a strong suit, and will game plan to try and take it away. It’s going to be important that both players, no matter who is in, try and threaten the defense through the air. There has to be more of a downfield presence for this team. It’ll be imperative that Drinkwitz try scheme to get both guys comfortable with a few easy throws, and then attack downfield as well.
This is a big game for both guys, at home, in a winnable game that could help be the difference in a bowl game or not. Both guys have got to continue being turnover free, and clean up the mental errors throughout the game. South Carolina’s defense isn’t on the level as Georgia’s, so hopefully that’ll help some.
Missouri’s Offensive Line vs South Carolina’s Defensive Line
Missouri’s offensive line is already without Case Cook, but now could possibly be without starting tackle Hyrin White, as he was listed questionable. This is in addition to the shuffling that continues at the right guard spot as well. All in all, a group who has been pretty “meh”, is starting to tap into it’s depth and that’s something that makes you wonder.
ESPECIALLY if you’re planning on playing on playing multiple quarterbacks. They’re playing two quarterbacks, both of which play pretty different styles, and making sure everybody is sound on their responsibility and assignment isn’t an easy thing to do. There has to be an emphasis on pre-snap procedures, and avoiding those sorts of penalties. As far as assignment, identifying blitz packages and working through those progressions are going to be important for Mike Maietti as well. He’s a center with a whole lot of experience and he’s going to need to step up and be a voice along that line.