Mizzou Football: Keys to Victory Against Tennessee

The Tigers face-off against the #21 Tennessee Volunteers in a morning showdown at Neyland Stadium

Key #1- Better play from the offense and defensive lines

Going into the season it was well known that the offensive line was the major weakness for the Tigers. Drinkwitz hinted at the issue after the second team scrimmage talking about how the offensive line struggled throughout the evening.

The concern was made real on Saturday when the Tigers faced Alabama. The quarterbacks were under constant pressure and there wasn’t much room for the one-two punch of Rountree and Badie to make plays. The Tiger’s offensive line had no answer for the constant pressure that Alabama was bringing, which resulted in 8 tackles for loss for Alabama’s defense and one forced fumble.

Alabama’s defense was also able to collect 3 sacks on the evening. It is a blessing that neither one of the quarterbacks for Mizzou got hurt because they were getting punished every other play.

In order for the offense to put up points against Tennessee, the offensive line has to give more time to Shawn Robinson and allow Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie to show why this backfield could be one of the best in the country.

Mizzou’s defensive line doesn’t have a lot of big-time playmakers but the line possesses a lot of experience. Mizzou’s defense as a collective didn’t play bad and even had a few bright spots, but the defensive line severely underperformed. The line collectively only had one tackle for loss and one sack. The Tiger’s struggled to create pressure from their front four which gave Mac Jones ample amount of time to dissect the Tiger’s secondary.

Kobie Whiteside, one of the best defensive tackles in the SEC, has to play better for the Tiger’s if they plan to upset the Vols. Whiteside only had 3 total tackles and didn’t have a tackle for loss or a sack. If Whiteside and the rest of the defensive line create pressure and make plays behind the line of scrimmage, the Tigers will have a great shot of winning this ballgame.

Key #2- Get the Receivers Involved 

Drinkwitz did a complete overhaul of Mizzou’s wide receiver corps in the offseason. The haul began when Drinkwitz brought in two grad transfers in Dame Hazleton and Keke Chism. Both of these receivers stand at 6’3 and 6’4 respectively and were expected to be huge and reliable targets for whoever won the quarterback battle.

On Saturday Hazelton and Chism were not existent for the majority of the game. Jalen Knox, who has been in intricate part in the offense for the past two seasons, was the only receiver that seemed present. Knox finished the game with 5 receptions for 63 yards. Hazleton had 5 receptions for 34 yards and Chism posted 2 catches for 12 yards.

The three starting receivers have to combine for more than 109 yards receiving this Saturday. All three receivers are talented and have traits that make them each unique. The offensive scheme has to be better to get these three involved to put pressure on the Vols secondary. The Tiger’s passing game should be a lot better this week since they don’t have to face two potential first-round corners in Patrick Surtain II and Josh Jobe.

Key #3- Win the Turnover Battle

Winning the turnover battle is always a key to victory for every football team. It’s simple, no turnovers equal fewer opportunities for the opposing offense to score and more opportunities for your offense to score.

The Tigers didn’t do a terrible job of turning the ball over against Alabama. Robinson or Bazelak didn’t throw an interception the entire game despite being under duress. However, Robinson did fumble the ball.

If Shawn Robinson is the head man on Saturday he has to keep up the accuracy that was displayed last week and tone down on the superhero style of play. The Tiger’s have enough weapons around Robinson for him to make plays and not feel like he is by himself.