Each game has its 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 one with a position group.
1st Down: Nick Bolton vs Najee Harris
Najee Harris is an absolute monster. Nick Bolton is an absolute monster. Will the world implode when these two meet the first time?
All jokes aside, this personally will be the matchup I’m looking forward to watching the most. With a Crimson Tide team that is going to absolutely try and establish a power run game, I expect these two to meet up quite often. I’m sure you’ll also see Bolton tracking him out of the backfield, and even possibly being matched up with Harris on the blitz. The Tide are going to trot out multiple talented RB’s, but expect to see Harris get the share of the snaps. The slim to none chance that the Tigers can be competitive on Saturday starts with slowing down Harris, and Bolton is going to have to have a large hand in that.
2nd Down: Ennis Rakestraw vs Jaylen Waddle/Devonta Smith
On Tuesday, Coach Drinkwitz released the first depth chart and there weren’t alot of surprises ,or hints for that matter, to who all of the starters were. The only exception was in the case of prized freshman, Ennis Rakestraw, who will find himself starting opposite Jarvis Ware at cornerback.
His defensive coordinator made it clear that Rakestraw left no doubt about who the starter should be:
Mizzou DC Ryan Walters on CB Ennis Rakestraw: "When a freshman earns the job it can't be close. He's got to go take the job. And he did."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) September 23, 2020
All of this is well and good, but on Saturday, he’s gonna be lining up against two of the best wide receivers in the entire country in Waddle and Smith. Those two combined for over 1,800 yards and 20 TD’s on a team that had Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs on it. Point is, his hands are going to be full.
I don’t know that anyone is expecting him to shut them down, but I think that everyone will be watching out for those flash plays that show the potential he has. Expectations should be low in this matchup, but competing and making this dynamic duo work hard, would mean a lot in his long term development.
3rd Down: Keke Chism vs Patrick Surtain II
Last season, Chism started at Angelo State and their week one matchup happened to be The Western Oregon University Wolves.
This season, Chism is going to start at Missouri and their week one matchup happens to be.... Alabama.
It’ll be interesting to see how Keke handles the adjustment in competition levels. Going from facing the Western Oregon’s of the world, to Alabama (without a regular offseason) probably isn’t going to be easy to say the least. On the flip side, Chism is probably going to have Alabama’s top corner, Patrick Surtain II covering him for at least part of the day. Surtain is a playmaker, and is battle tested with 28 games under his belt. With an extremely talented corner following him, I wanna see Chism carry himself like the distinguished grad transfer that he is. He doesn’t even need to dominate the field, but being surehanded and blocking well would be a good start to this season.