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 between 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.
1st Down: Missouri’s Offensive Line vs Auburn’s Defensive Line
If you’ve seen Missouri’s offensive line through three weeks, it could not be described as anything besides underwhelming. Particularly in the run game. Missouri’s bread and butter through the last two years have been inside and outside zone. So far, both concepts have been shut down. Outside zone is generating just a success rate under 30%. Inside zone reads are generating a success rate around 45%. Both are down significantly from 2021.
If Missouri wants to have some sort of competent run game, it’s going to have to start with the offensive line setting the tone early. If Missouri can piece together a respectable run game, it can really help their offense set up the passing game and keep their quarterback out of situations where he needs to throw.
2nd Down: Missouri’s WRs vs Auburn Secondary
The Missouri wide receivers are legit. Between Burden, Lovett and guys like Tauskie Dove, there is no shortage of guys who can be playmakers. We’ve had discussions about how the run game has struggled, and if that does continue Missouri’s wide receivers are going to have to carry more of the offensive load.
Quarterback play is one thing, but the wide receivers need to do anything and everything they can to help out their QB. That means avoiding mental mistakes like procedural penalties, avoiding drops as well as being on the right page as far as the routes being ran. This offense has shown that they don’t have very much margin for error, so every unit on the field needs to really concentrate on cutting out the avoidable mistakes.
3rd Down: Missouri’s Defense vs Tank Bigsby
Auburn's offense hasn’t done a lot well, but when they do, it usually has something to do with Tank Bigsby. Through three games, Bigsby is the lead rusher in the backfield and is actually leading their team in all purpose yardage.
With Auburn starting a backup quarterback, you should expect them to try and lean on Bigsby even more so than usual. With that being the case, Missouri should have an emphasis on Bigsby and concentrate on slowing him down. The ideal scenario for Missouri’s defense is for them to keep them in difficult situations that make them one dimensional. That may mean that they stack the box and leave the secondary on an island.
Also, with a runner like Bigsby, tackling is going to be a big key. They have to find a way to avoid arm tackles and get everybody flowing to the ball because one player isn’t going to be enough to tackle him.