Each week, before the Missouri Tigers football game, we will be posting a preview shortly before Mizzou’s contest with each opponent to get you prepped for what you may see roll out on Saturday. However, Thursdays are important for Tiger fans too. This is our brand new segment, a preview to the preview, a pre-preview, if you will.
This is “The Thursday Three Keys To Victory”:
Last week, we saw Missouri take care of South Dakota State, 38-18, to open the season 1-0 for the 13th straight season. While Mizzou was impressive at times, there were also several areas of concern, and more than a few moments that irked Tiger fans to no end. Mizzou looked undisciplined and rusty and its coaching staff struggled to create a solid gameplan.
The team ultimately got things together and pulled away. A 20-point win was nice; but allowing 365 yards and 18 points to an FCS team wasn’t a welcomed sight. Mizzou must step up their game next weekend, especially against a better team.
MU’s test this week is Toledo as the Tigers travel to central Ohio for a rematch with the Rockets, whom they defeated last season, 38-23. Here are the Tigers three keys to winning this game:
Get Going Early
Mizzou looked rusty in the early parts of their season opener. The Toledo game is not the time to start off slow and sluggish. Toledo scores. Ask New Hampshire. The Rockets put 50 points on them in three quarters. But they also didn’t start off too hot, letting that New Hampshire team put them in 14-3 hole before pulling away big for a 50-24 victory.
Point is, Missouri must come out of the gate firing. I’d like to see the Tigers put up 17 first-quarter points. Any cushion will be nice, considering that Toledo will put up a fight. The Rockets return 18 starters from a year ago, a team that gave the Tigers fits in their first ever meeting last season in Columbia. I suspect Toledo to get big yards through the air and put up some points. Missouri must not have a shaky start because if Tiger fans find themselves shaking their heads early, it could be a problem.
Run The Football, Slow Things Down
There’s a bad kind of slow, and then there’s a good kind of slow. Last week, Mizzou failed to set up a great game plan that established a running game and the team looked all over the place. Don’t get us wrong, the rushing attack looked darn good thanks to solid performances from Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough. But this team has young receivers and a first year starting quarterback. They also have one of the SEC’s best offensive lines. What do all of these little clues point us to? Use that running game– early and often.
The main reason for this in this particular game is Mizzou’s troubles in the defensive secondary. Because Toledo likes to throw the ball around, we don’t want the ball in their hands. Control possession, control the flow and control the clock. I like– no I love Mizzou’s match up with Maty Mauk throwing down field against a weaker defense. But a structured, grind it out start, will limit Toledo’s opportunities and keep their scoring at bay.
Take advantage of turnovers
Mizzou has 45 consecutive games with a forced turnover, currently the nation’s longest streak in college football. Not only must this continue, but the Tigers must also score off these turnovers. Touchdowns must happen. Not field goals. Toledo isn’t an especially turnover-prone squad. But if Mizzou can get one or two gifts, they have to unwrap them in the endzone. If I sound like Captain Obvious here, that’s fine. If Mizzou doesn’t score off turnovers, Toledo will make them pay for it.
These three factors will likely secure a Tiger win. If Toledo is allowed to heave the ball up and down the field at will, though, it could be a long day for Mizzou.
Check out our full-scale in-depth preview to the game coming this weekend.