As the Missouri Tigers prepare to host the Florida Gators, there are a number of areas where Mizzou needs to play well, in order to contain the Gators.
Three weeks ago, I would not have even imagined uttering a statement such as this, but here we are – Missouri is playing better than it has, and Florida is a team that seems to be amid turmoil.
The good news for the Tigers, is on the outside, it looks like Florida should be a fairly even opponent; that is, as even as SEC opponents can be to a Missouri team which has had a roller coaster season.
In order for Missouri to give the Gators a hard time, the Tigers will have to control Florida at the line of scrimmage on defense. If the Tigers can contain Florida’s running game, then the defensive front might be able to put enough pressure on the quarterback to force him into making some errant passes.
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Missouri’s defensive secondary has been the Tigers’ biggest problem all season. However, maybe there’s something to head coach Barry Odom’s giving younger guys a chance to play. I’m not saying that Mizzou will create any defensive turnovers, but maybe pressure from the front can cause some incomplete attempts.
On offense, running back Larry Rountree seems to be coming into his own, in the wake of Damarea Crockett’s potentially season-ending shoulder injury.
While many fans figured the absence of Crockett would leave Mizzou without a viable option for “thunder,” Rountree has filled in nicely.
In addition to Rountree, the Tigers also field Senior running back Ish Witter, who is quick and sometimes helps the offensive line in passing situations.
As long as the coaching staff doesn’t mix-up who plays “lightning” and who plays “thunder,” the ground game should perform well enough against Florida’s defense.
The other question mark going into this game, is how will quarterback Drew Lock perform against Florida’s defensive secondary? Lock has struggled, and in some cases failed, against SEC defenses throughout his career at Missouri.
Missouri’s under-utilized tight end Albert Okwuegbunam will play a huge role for the Tigers in the passing game and across the middle of the field. Between “Albert O” and wide receiver Emmanuel Hall, veteran receiver J’Mon Moore has been able to get a little more involved in the Tigers’ passing game. My prediction: Missouri 31, Florida 28.