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 Defensive Tackles vs. SEMO Offensive Line
Last week, Missouri’s interior defensive line got pushed around by a bigger, stronger more disciplined group. This week however, they have a clear talent advantage and should be able to control gaps and get some sort of push.
I said last week that the analysis with this position group is, and will continue to be very simple. They have to be more physical, and more disciplined upfront. You can’t do things like lose contain, or run out of your gap and expect to win against good teams. This is a “get-right” game for them, and I’d really like them to see them gain some confidence ahead of next weeks matchup against Boston College.
Missouri’s Linebackers vs The SEMO Offense
A lot has been made of the performance of the linebacking corp of Missouri, and most of it isn’t good. Through two games they’ve struggled to shed blocks and in their pursuit of tackles. Bad footwork, bad angles, just not very good at all. This is a group that on paper, has two linebackers who are very talented, but the discipline from this group which has plenty of experience has been subpar to say the least.
After re-watching and crunching some of the film, here’s the play that pretty much encapsulates the issues for the entire Missouri defense:
#18, Trajan Jeffcoat swims out of his gap, #78 Kobie Whiteside runs right out of his A gap, #25 Blaze Alldredge takes a false step to the outside and it’s an easy give for Will Levis and a gash for Chris Rodriguez.
The players who are making these mistakes have played a lot of college football. Players who have plenty of talent to be successful at this level. It’s on them to figure out a way to play more disciplined, consistent football from snap to snap.
Missouri’s Offensive Line and Tight Ends vs SEMO’s Defensive Line and Linebackers
Last season, Missouri ran a lot of inside zone plays. It was a nice bread and butter staple for them and with Larry Rountree III and a solid right side of the line, it was a good play for them. In 2021, it’s been the opposite. As the personnel has changed, so does the tendency. Via SEC Stat Cat, Missouri is running to the outside just under 70% of the time. This is an 18% increase from last season.
This is the perfect game for Mizzou to get their inside run game going. Against an inferior opponent, they should be able to run inside most of the game. They had better figure it out, because they can’t live off the edge forever.
The reason I include the tight ends in this, is because DPJ is basically an extra offensive lineman, and Niko Hea has shown to be an effective blocker at times as well. They can help provide another dimension to the run game that hasn’t been there so far this year. Possibly running with more two tight end sets, and a renewed commitment to the inside running game may fix it.