Then Purdue happened. I am not trying to take anything away from our performance in West Lafayette against the mighty Boilermakers, but it certainly wasn’t what I, along with many other fans, had expected. I had expected Missouri to march into West Lafayette and handily take care of Purdue, which certainly wasn’t the whole story. But a win is a win, is a win, so on, and so forth. So back home to take on the Georgia Bulldogs undefeated. Let’s dive into what I believe could be some big factors in the game against the Dawgs.
Our Secondary and Pass Rush
Whew, that was atrocious, watching our secondary get absolutely picked apart by David Blough. Blough threw for 572 yards. You read that correctly, David Blough put up 572 against our defense. It didn’t help that Demarkus Acy went down on the first play of the game and did not return. Simply put, in order to hang in with Georgia, our secondary and pass rush have got to get better.
They have shown that they can be a great group of defensive backs against lesser opponents, now that has to translate into a game against bigger, stronger, faster, and better WR’s. Where has our pass rush been? In three games, this defense has only accumulated six sacks. The lack of a pass rush has been the most alarming thing so far this season to me. It really puts our defensive coaching staff in a tough spot on calling plays. Do you call a blitz and run the risk of leaving our corners and safeties hung out to dry even more?
We certainly can’t do what Purdue did to Lock. Lock, along with Fromm, are the kind of QB’s that can sit back and just wait. They’re going to make a play. The only way to disrupt them is by "drum roll please"…….a pass rush. We just aren’t equipped with the secondary we have had in years past. The lock-down guys like Penton and Gaines are two names that REALLY stand out to me. I believe the Purdue game was a wake-up call for both of these groups. We can't see another performance like that again, and we certainly can’t have another performance like that against Jake Fromm and the Georgia offense, or it’s going to be a long night and in all reality, a long frustrating season.
My next two points go hand in hand with each other, so I’ll start with the running game. It was apparent that Derek Dooley really wanted to establish the running game against Purdue. The running game definitely wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard against UT-M or Wyoming, but I felt like we saw it take off a little better against Purdue. The Tigers rushed for 233 yards against the Boilermakers, led by Larry Rountree’s 168 yards. I think this is a huge key, not only in this game, but for the rest of our season. I believe we will get there. It’s only the third game of the season guys, hang in there.
How Drew Lock and this offense handles the Bulldogs
I’m going to sort of roll this point off of my previous point. I want to see how Drew Lock and everyone on this offense handles the Dawgs’ defense. This is the toughest defense they have faced so far and certainly not the last tough defense they will see. Drew Lock has looked like the quarterback we all had expected and hoped for so far. Lock has thrown for 1,062 yards, 11 touchdowns, and an impressive one interception through three games. Despite the fact that the interception was sort of an aggravating play, we have seen him mature from his freshman year until now into one of the best QB’s in Missouri’s history.
How he plays against Georgia will be another huge factor, if not the most important factor, in this game. I think we are going to see Dooley start to open the playbook a little more in this game. I have liked what we have seen so far from this offense, even though the running game hasn't played to its full potential yet, the offensive line has looked impressive, the WR’s have looked impressive, Drew Lock has looked even more impressive, and how about those TE’s! I know I am not alone when in years past, I’ve screamed angrily at the TV about not using the middle of the field, and not using the tight ends. This year we are actually seeing our TE’s being utilized! The middle of the field is being utilized! Hey, whatta you know? It's not illegal after all to throw to a tight end or the middle of the field! I would love nothing more to see this offense show the nation that they really are a force to be reckoned with and something inside of me says that will be the case.
There you have it, these are the factors that I think will be important in the upcoming game against the Dawgs. Will we see improvement on the defensive side of the ball? Will we see the offense slide? All we can hope for is a solid performance and to be competitive and maybe, just maybe, we can sneak one away from the #2 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. So everybody going to the game, see ya there!
If you’re staying home, don’t forget the Shlaflay! MIZ!