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 Secondary vs Will Levis
Missouri’s secondary had a weird day last week against CMU. There were bright spots, like the Akayleb Evans pick, or the uptick in play when JC Carlies went in at safety. There were also some rough patches like CMU’s opening drive, though, where they got a deep gain on Ennis Rakestraw.
All in all, it was good enough for a win that day.
However, Coach Drinkwitz saw where some of the issues came from:
“I think we had some eye discipline issues,” Drinkwitz said. “You know, guys in man-to-man who let their guys cut loose, and it may not have shown up on tape, but it’s going to show up if we don’t fix it. You know, we had some loose coverage, supposed to be inside technique but we were lined up outside, supposed to be outside technique, lined up inside.”
And if Will Levis is as talented as he displayed last week, those kind of errors will get you beat, and beat pretty easily at that.
This secondary has got to be disciplined with their eyes and, quite frankly, better in man coverage. They were average to outrightly bad at times when in man coverage, and that can’t happen against better, more talented receivers like Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson. We’ll see if last week was an aberration, or if this may be a longer standing issue.
Missouri Offensive Line vs Kentucky Defensive Line
The Missouri offensive line struggled against a Chippewa defensive line that wasn’t too overly imposing. They struggled to get a consistent push and had a hard time getting the momentum moving in the first half. It was sort of a shock to me, as I expected this offensive line to gel very quickly and start imposing themselves on defenses. That didn’t exactly happen in the first half, but as the game progressed, they got better and finished the game on a strong note.
The defensive line for Kentucky is a cause for concern, however. They have size, speed and a whole lot of athleticism. The Tigers have to find a way to limit pressure and interior push from the Wildcats or it could be a long day.
If Missouri can find a way to channel the spirit from the 2020 Tigers offensive line, they will do just fine. If they come out and play how they did in the first half against Central Michigan, they could get embarrassed.
Eli Drinkwitz vs Mark Stoops
Something we found out last year in the game against Kentucky is that coaching absolutely matters.
Missouri out-toughed, and out-physical’d(?) Kentucky and that was a large reason for the win, but Drinkwitz also outcoached Stoops. He was more aggressive, more creative, and his team fed off of it. It was a total showing that kind of shocked Kentucky.
I doubt in this year that Kentucky is shocked by Missouri, or the team they are. Which is why I’m so curious to see who can manage to affect this game in the best way for their team. Who is going to have the testicular fortitude to go for it when necessary? Who’s going to have the nerve to to get creative, and pull something out of the trick bag? *Looking at you, Eliah*
Those little decisions are why they get paid the big bucks, and very well could be the difference in a win or a loss for either team.
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