Let’s talk about Missouri.

Um, not the politics… the football team.  Bill Connelly’s preview of his beloved Tigers is available for your perusal.  It’s as detailed as you might expect from Bill.  If you want the Cliffs Notes version, I’ll give it a go.

What he likes:

  • Coaching stability
  • Flexibility on offense to fit scheme to personnel
  • James Franklin most of the time
  • A well-stocked receiving corps
  • The linebackers
  • The cornerbacks

What he’s concerned about:

  • The running game, due to injuries at running back and the offensive line
  • James Franklin’s tendency to accumulate mistakes
  • Defensive tackle depth
  • Safety

This is a team, coming off an 8-5 season, that’s won 48 games in the last five seasons.  All in all, that’s more than respectable.  So, when Bill points to the likelihood of a seven-win season in 2012, is that due to his concerns, or is it about how Mizzou adapts to its new conference home?  It sounds like a little of both:

Instead, we’re in a situation where there are far more questions than concrete expectations. How will Mizzou attempt to attack SEC defenses with personnel more friendly to the pass than the run? What kind of contribution can Dorial Green-Beckham make in his first year (and how quickly can he begin to make it)? How will James Franklin respond to mistakes this time around? How will Mizzou’s defense hold up to steady doses of South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy and Alabama’s [Insert Random Blue-Chip Running Back Here]? Will poor safety play break a bend-don’t-break defense? And will The SEC Grind™ take effect as conference proponents so often say it does? And do Mizzou fans take in nearly enough brown liquor and tailgate meat to fit in with their new conference mates? We will find out the answers soon enough.

If you’re a believer in the mantra that to win in the SEC you have to be able to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense, you can see where Bill’s concerns play into his prediction.

How does any of that play into Missouri’s SEC home opener against Georgia?  Well, the Dawgs return the 11th ranked rush defense from last season.  The Tigers played one team which played the run stouter than Georgia, Texas, and turned in their worst ypr average of the season.  On the other side of the ball, Georgia was little more than average rushing the ball in 2011.  Missouri against the run was excellent at shutting down really crappy offenses, fair to middling against more respectable offenses and awful against Baylor and Oklahoma State.  At worst, you’d hope that Georgia would have at least a semblance of a running game at work in Columbia, but there are offensive line questions for the Dawgs as well that we’ll have to wait and see on whether they’ve been addressed.

What that leaves is the question we’ve all had, well, since spring break:  the suspensions.  Now we still don’t know how all of that plays out.  What we do know is that Branden Smith will play, Sanders Commings will sit and Malcolm Mitchell will be tired after the game.  Year2 thinks that’s enough to swing the game Missouri’s way.

The other concern is the very dangerous game against Missouri in Week 2. Todd Grantham has had issues at times with mobile quarterbacks, and James Franklin is a very good mobile quarterback. The secondary will also be out two starters in safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Sanders Commings suspended. The latter might be the bigger problem, because it means a very inexperienced player will be opposite either senior T.J. Moe or the nation’s top recruit Dorial Green-Beckham. Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, a high school corner who excelled at receiver last year, will probably be the guy based on practice reports, but that’s going to hurt an offense that, absent a good run game, could really use him. Put this game the next week, and I’ve got Georgia winning it. Instead, it’ll cost the team the division with a loss to the Gamecocks.

That’s a pretty finely tuned assessment there.  And maybe he’s right – there are plenty of pundits who think Missouri is the smart pick.  What I’d come back with is that (1) we don’t know how Georgia’s running game shapes up yet, but if you accept the premise that no back on Georgia’s current roster is as talented as Crowell was, the fact remains that between suspension and injury, Crowell was essentially a non-contributor in five of Georgia’s last six games and the Dawg offense sputtered in two of those (although I don’t believe anyone would suggest that Missouri’s defense is in the same league as LSU’s); (2) Malcolm Mitchell missed three whole games and part of another mid-season last year, the Dawgs won all four games and didn’t have much problem scoring in the three games Mitchell didn’t play; (3) Mitchell is expected to play on both sides of the ball against Missouri (although the unanswered question is how much); and (4) I sure would like to know what Alec Ogletree’s status is for the game.

I’m not being cute there at the end.  In fact, I suspect Ogletree’s status matters more than Rambo’s, given Franklin’s ability to run the ball and Missouri’s likely use of the short passing game to negate Georgia’s pass rush.  So Year2 may be right.  We don’t have enough to go on yet.

32 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

32 responses to “Let’s talk about Missouri.

  1. watcher16

    You still have to factor in how much they want Franklin running due to the fact that he is coming off the injury. The more 1-dimensional we make him the better our chances.

  2. 69Dawg

    Being from the Dooley-Munson school of UGA fan, this game scares me to death. I hope to live long enough for us to start a season without a suspension but that might be too much for which to wish. If the D can slow them down maybe just maybe the O and ST’s can keep from giving this one away.

  3. Serious question, are there any DC’s out there who DON’T have “issues at times with mobile quarterbacks”?

    • James Stephenson

      The answer is Monte Kiffen with really fast LBs and DEs. He completely shut down the Mike Vick experience, but he had a bunch of studs at OLB and DE.

      • When you have Warren Sapp coming up the middle and Simeon Rice/Derrick Brooks for containement (plus Ronde Barber in the nearby flat as well), it’s amazing how much easier it gets.

        • James Stephenson

          Exactly, and that is what you have to do, play contain outside and push up the middle. I am a big Falcons fan and I saw firsthand what that does. Get in the mobile QB’s face with the big guy in the middle and they get happy feet. Make sure you play good contain and well, you can really hurt the QB.

      • shane#1

        A bunch of studs at LB and DE. Hmmm, that sounds familiar.

  4. AusDawg85

    Meh…calm down. Deep breaths. Ok. Set the suspensions aside for just a moment, and rank these teams in order of challenge this season. USCe, FL, AU, TN, Vandy, Tech, Ole Miss, KY

    (well…that’s my order anyway,with some quibbling between TN, Vandy and Tech) Where does Mizzou fall? At best, right in the middle with those 3. Let’s not set this up only to see them Dawgraded after we win convincingly (14+ points).

    This will be just another in the continuing series of “Aaron Murray has not beaten a top-ranked team” games. The only team that can beat UGA in Columbia(w) is UGA (which allows for the impact of the suspensions meaning that Franklin and DGB run all over the secondary). Just don’t see that happening. And Bobo ALWAYS scores 30+ ppg, amirite!!

  5. X-Dawg

    Is there a list of all the suspensions? I wasn’t aware they had all been announced. Thanks!

    • There’s not. All we know for sure is Smith not being suspended and Commings and Vassar being out for two games.

      • X-Dawg

        I guess Rambo’s suspension is just an assumption then. If he doesn’t end up with a suspension for the Mizzou game, then it will be another sign that UGA runs a rogue program (at least that will be the spin).

  6. I agree that losing Ogletree would be the most devasting loss.
    However, I do expect that he will be suspended for a few games.
    The Dawgs just have to find somehow a way to win. GO DAWGS.

  7. Mudcat's Impala....

    At least with Smith back to play field corner I think MM will be OK at boundary corner. from what I’ve read on Mizzou’s practice reports DGB will prolly play short side WR against MM…

  8. BCDawg97

    While I understand you can’t just replace Tree, there is a difference now compared to the Boise game where the staff felt the need to put in someone (Sailors was it?) with less talent but “knew” the system because it was the first game of the season and Herrera hadn’t proven himself yet. Our ILBs this year are more accomplished and I wouldn’t expect as much dropoff in Trees absence (compared to Boise when they ate our lunch on the short intermediate plays to his spot).

    • Cojones

      Good point about Herrera. His and Ogletree’s athleticism is equal as far as I’m concerned. Take a look at tackles/game and a few film clips of Herrera at work. He is good and can lay the lumber. He will have a fine day vs Mizzou.

  9. Slaw Dawg

    Like any good Dooley/Munson era fan, I’m concerned about every game, definitely including Mizzou. I can and do hand wring with the best of ‘em. But I suspect our concerns about that game are really grounded in recent history, and “stepping stone” losses to Ok St, Colorado, BSU, UCF. And you know what? I just can’t make the concern morph into “we’re gonna lose.” Cause I don’t think we are. Despite our problems, we are strong, strong, strong in front 7, still tough in the back 4 on D; and our QB, Receivers and RBs are going to be better than solid. Our O Line may not have depth, but will be okay v the Mo front 4. It won’t be a blow out, but Dawgs will take away a comfortable win in Columbia. Gawd, I can’t believe I dared jinx us that way!

    • Cojones

      Awareness of opponent’s strengths is not a sin, Slaw Dawg. Many of us flash the Munsen-Dooley concerns each and every important game. And for those who don’t wring their hands, just recall the attitude fans had going into that MSU game. Mizzou could play us like MSU did and you have plenty to worry about. MSU’s QB was the cause of that plus our inability to stop the run in the 4th qtr.

      I’m not as comfortable with a “comfortable win” and overall expect to win , but with the caveat to “Watch Out!!”.

  10. Dog in Fla

    Vice President Peg Bundy is my two favorite things about politics in Missouri

    http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2012/08/07/palins-newest-bff-takes-the-bronze-in-missouri/

  11. I wanna red cup

    I think we are going to win by 7. Alec is a great player, be we are deep at ILB. And I bet our running game will be good. We will
    Score gain 400 yds and score 27 at least,

    • Macallanlover

      We were keeping Boise in check last year until Tree went down but as you note, we are better at ILB this season behind him. I agree our running game will be effective against Mizzou’s front. Game scares me simply because we will get everything they have from the start, it will be the best they play all year. but we should be good enough to prevail.

  12. Rebar

    I don’t think Missouri has seen anything like our front 7; don’t think they’ll have time for deep passes and our speed will, hopefully, kill the dink passes that go for first downs. Gonna have to see how well we replace Boykin, he was really special.

  13. Governor Milledge

    I’m convinced that Rambo will not be suspended for the Missouri game. He had the opportunity to declare for the NFL supplemental draft if the rumored 4 game suspension had any legs.

    Richt has known Rambo’s fate for awhile, and as the Smith non-suspension showed, Smith knew his fate for a long while before it was publicly announced.

    Rambo is playing in Columbia(W), no question.

    • If you’re right, we’ll name a central Georgia town after you, Gov.

      • sUGArdaddy

        I don’t think either are suspended. They both seem to practicing plenty with the first team.

        • Cojones

          If that is nothing except forcing Mizzou to prepare for them, I’m all for it. Gaming them as to whether certain individuals play certain positions is a good coaching move. If Mizzou guesses wrong, they risk annihilation. Gambling in their first SEC game could have dire consequences.

      • Cojones

        Or at least an Institution, NRBQ.

  14. HobnailedBoots

    We’re going to kick the shit out of them.

    • Macallanlover

      Those of us who are cautiously optimistic love your positions on the Mizzou and SC games. Keeps us from going “Larry”.