Monday, October 6, 2014

Early thoughts on Missouri

First and foremost, both very disappointed and very pleased in the kickoff time. The fact that it's at noon really put a monkey wrench in my weekend plans. On the other hand, nooners on the road are often preferable, especially with so many young players.

  • The trend this season is to first look at the opposing offense. Can they pass the football effectively? How talented are their receivers? How polished is their quarterback? Can they pass protect?
  • They are 10th in the conference in rushing the football, averaging 178 yards per game.
  • They are a little better at passing, where they rank 9th in the conference and average 222 yards per game.
  • This Missouri team isn't missing Henry Josey, who left early after gaining over 1100 yards last season, as much as you might think. Russell Hansbrough is on track to math Josey's 2013 numbers. By comparison, Josey averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year and Hansbrough is averaging 6.27. 
  • However, it was their senior running back Marcus Murphy that lead the team in rushing against South Carolina. He has a hundred less yards than Hansbrough on the season and is averaging nearly two yards less per carry, but he consistently found space with the football against the Gamecocks - 16 carries and 98 yards.
  • Still, it was Hansbrough that scored Missouri's three touchdowns on rushes on 18, 1 and 1 yards.
  • But the key offensive player is Maty Mauk. He's the kind of quarterback that can hurt you with his arm, but devastate you with his feet. He's not an electrifying passer or runner, but can extend plays with his mobility. And that's scary.
  • However, against SC he did not play well. His completion percentage was a paltry 35%, and the Gamecocks contained him very well as he only had nine yards on the ground. As a result, the Tigers were 2/16 on third down. Somehow, they still won. Quite possibly because they converted on all three fourth down attempts.
  • Defensively, their leaders are Kentrell Brothers (linebacker, #10), Michael Sherer (linebacker #30) and Shane Ray (d-line, #56). Ray leads the team in sacks with seven.
  • Despite their light schedule thus far, Missouri is a middle of the pack defense statistically. They're 8th in rush defense and 9th against the pass. That comes in the form of wins against South Dakota St., Toledo and Central Florida, the loss to Indiana, and then the win in Columbia.
  • With the extra week I think they'll be planning to work on their time of possession, which through five games is just over 28 min/game. They'll want to continue their balance on offense, run both Hansbrough and Murphy a lot to set up some looks downfield. The more they can do that the more Gurley will have to sit and watch.
  • They'll also try to create mismatches with our linebackers, most likely with their TE Sean Culkin and Murphy out of the backfield. They'll do this because that's what every team does.
  • One key to keep in mind, their kicker has missed nearly as many field goal attempts (3) as he's made (4). However, Andrew Baggett has a touchback percentage on kickoffs that is absurd - 64%.
This is a big game. Will go a long way to determining how the rest of the season shakes out.