If you’re looking for some early poop on Missouri, here’s a Q&A with beat writer Dave Matter that may shed some light on a few things.
It sounds like the Tigers’ offense is being retooled, with some hope that it’s got the same DNA that caused Kirby Smart problems a few years ago.
Q: Do the Tigers believe they have the secret code for breaking a Kirby Smart defense in Josh Heupel? Can you explain their history for our readers?
Matter: “I’m not sure they believe they have the secret code, but at least five offensive players interviewed Monday mentioned the 2014 Sugar Bowl, when Heupel’s Oklahoma offense shredded Smart’s Alabama defense for 429 yards. The offense has been watching that film and it’s obvious we’ll see some elements from OU’s game plan show up on Saturday, possibly the heavy use of presnap shifts and motions the Sooners used.”
On the other hand, the defense appears to be different, too, which may not be such a good thing (remember that last year’s great defensive line coach is now with Richt in Miami).
“Missouri has switched to more of a read scheme along the front where linemen have to diagnose formations and adjust their assignments accordingly. In the past, they were free to burst off the ball and rush up field. There’s been a learning curve so far, and linemen are still adjusting to their new assignments. This group still has loads of talent, starting with Harris, though he hasn’t had much of an impact the first two games. West Virginia and Eastern Michigan neutralized MU’s pass rush with quick passes. Both teams had mobile quarterbacks who had some success on designed runs. This might be a better matchup for the front four because they don’t have to worry about either QB scrambling or keeping the ball on options.”
Missouri finished last season second in the conference in total defense. After two 2016 games, the Tigers are thirteenth, yielding about 130 more yards per game — against West Virginia and Eastern Michigan. Perhaps more surprisingly, they’ve gone from middle of the conference pack in sacks to dead last.
I don’t want to read too much into the sample size, but if Georgia can run on the Mizzou defense and its quarterbacks aren’t feeling much heat, those are good reasons to be optimistic that the Dawgs can put some points on the board.