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 Defense vs Anthony Richardson
The Mizzou defense has been nothing short of awesome thus far. Adequate pass rush, elite linebacker play from Ty’Ron Hopper and a secondary that has, for the most part, kept the busted coverages to a minimum.
This week though, the opposing quarterback presents a threat in not just the passing game, but also the running game. There will be designed runs for Richardson, but I think I’m more concerned with his ability to extend plays and scramble, particularly when Missouri’s defensive backs are in man coverage and have their backs turned. There needs to be an emphasis on keeping Richardson contained in the pocket, as well just an overall emphasis on taking good angles to tackling him.
Javon Foster & Connor Wood vs Brenton Cox, Jr.
It’s a battle on the edge this week, and Missouri’s offensive line has a star they need to worry about in Brenton Cox. Cox is a bona fide problem lining up at defensive end, and Missouri has to find a way to keep him from wrecking their gameplan.
Missouri has a pair of experienced tackles who could be up to the task. Both Javon Foster and Connor Wood have played a lot of snaps in between the two of them, and it’s going to be up to them to try and get lanes opened up for their run game. I honestly don’t know how much help they can expect from tight ends and running backs in pass protection, so they may just be on an island for much of the game.
Foster and Wood’s ability to hold up against Cox will be a huge swing factor in how this game ends up going.
Brady Cook vs Florida’s Defense
It’s fair to say that the quarterback play for Missouri could be better. That’s not an insult to Cook, per se, but statistically through four games he ranks as a bottom half of the SEC quarterback. It’s not like that can’t change, though.
Cook is in his first year as starting quarterback and playing a lot of snaps. No matter how many reps he’s received in practice over the years, this is his first year getting a lot of game reps and he’s still growing. Playing quarterback at the collegiate level is tough enough as it is, but if you aren’t accustomed to that speed quite yet, it is going to be a struggle at times.
This is another road test against another Power Five team, but Cook doesn’t need to wow the world with what he does; no one is expecting him to be perfect. He does need to play smart, however, value the ball, and when his number is called— deliver.