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 Defensive Line vs Florida’s Offense
Last week, Missouri’s defensive line had its most complete showing to date in the win against South Carolina. There was consistent penetration and a true commitment to gap integrity. It takes a lot to absorb double teams and not get driven out of your gap, and they managed to not just get the job down, but to completely shut down South Carolina on the ground.
That was against South Carolina’s suspect offense, though. This week presents a new challenge.
Florida comes in with an offense that, with Emory Jones, has a lot of QB run game, with intermediate and deep shots peppered in, too. They have the capability of putting up a lot of points against this defense if Missouri doesn’t come to play.
The defensive ends in particular have to be prepared for the QB run aspect of the game. Rush lanes and contain have to be a priority. Trajan Jeffcoat and the rest of the defensive ends have made a habit of biting down hard on read options, and for the past few weeks it hasn’t burned them too bad and they’ve made a few really impressive stops in the run game. However, this week, gambling on blowing up running backs up on a read could be even more consequential with the dual threat Florida has under center.
Missouri’s Offensive Line vs Florida’s Defensive Line:
The gameplan is very simple for the Missouri offense at this point of the year.
Run the Rock.
Earlier this week, I detailed the inside power read, and how it was a huge success for Missouri in their victory over South Carolina. The reason why the Tigers had such great success was not only because of Tyler Badie being Superman, but also because of the offensive line, which opened up rushing lanes all day long. Particularly good is how they did this with a patchwork offensive line, and still managed to control the line of scrimmage.
Against Florida, they’ll need a repeat of that performance. We all know who the ball is going to, and so does the defense. They have got to get off the ball, and play with good pad level. Preventing negative plays and avoiding the dreaded holding calls is also going to be important, too. This offense isn’t the kind that can operate efficiently when playing behind.
Missouri’s Secondary vs Florida’s Offense
Last week, you could see that secondary also kind of put it together. It wasn’t perfect, but the duo of Akayleb Evans and Kris-Abrams Draine were all over the field making plays. Martez Manuel was creating pressure on the QB. Everybody was showing just a little piece of their game that intrigues the eye.
Last week, Florida threw it over the yard at will. 416 yards through the air is an impressive number. They were playing Samford, but still.
That’s what this offense is. With all of the attention given to their run game, defenses leave themselves vulnerable on the outside trying to stack the box to stop their run game. When Missouri’s secondary finds itself on an island in man coverage, they have to find a way to win without penalties. This was the only area where I felt like they struggled considerably last week.
This Missouri team just isn’t good enough to absorb penalties in the backend and expect to still win games against solid-to-good teams. They have got to find a way to play clean football to win their sixth game, in order for Mizzou to become bowl eligible, and for Dan Mullen to be fired.