Another football weekend is nearing, and a huge swing game is up next for Tennessee. It’s another SEC East matchup for the Volunteers, who this time will travel to Columbia to face the Missouri Tigers.
So let’s learn a little more about the Tigers, shall we? Sammy Stava at Rock M Nation is here with all of the answers.
1) Missouri is 2-2, but each loss has been by just one touchdown. I haven’t seen any full games, just highlights here and there — are the Tigers that close to being a 4-0 team?
Sammy: You can make an argument that Mizzou could be a 4-0 team right now., but I’d actually say more on the 3-1 side. They were fortunate enough to be within one possession against Kentucky the way the Wildcats outplayed them. The loss to Boston College in overtime was a one that got away from them. Either way, they’ve had their chances in both. Being 2-2 is certainly frustrating, but all is not lost.
2) Tyler Badie is the SEC’s second-leading rusher, but he hasn’t had 20-plus carries or 100 yards in a game since his 25-rush, 203-yard performance in the season opener. Help me make that make sense. Is Drinkwitz doing enough to get him involved?
Sammy: Yeah, the biggest question about Tyler Badie heading into this season was could be carry the heavy workload after the departure of Larry Rountree leaving for the NFL. I think it’s a mix of Drinkwitz opening up the playbook more and getting more creative. He’s getting him involved, just in different ways.
3) I feel like I’ve seen some Mizzou fans being pretty critical of Tigers’ starting QB Connor Bazelak. He’s hitting receivers at nearly a 70-percent clip with a 7.8 YPA and a three-ish-to-one TD/INT ratio. What is it about his play that has some fans a bit, um, restless?
Sammy: I don’t really get it. I think the expectations for Connor Bazelak were really high after he won SEC Freshman of the Year last season. Bazelak has only 3 INTs to 10 TDs so far, but those have been some costly mistakes, all coming in their two looses. But let me be the first to tell you, he definitely hasn’t been the problem, or the reason for Mizzou’s 2-2 start. He’s really been fine, I’d give him a B+. I would like to see more from him however as he’s struggled to throw downfield consistently.
4) The offense is racking up yards and scoring some points, but the defense is allowing opposing offenses to do the same. It’s defensive coordinator Steve Wilks first season — is this about what Tiger fans expected?
Sammy: Oh, I’m sure Mizzou fans thought the defense would be a work in progress due to the lack of talent Barry Odom recruited and a first year defensive coordinator to get used to a new scheme. That’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t think anybody was expecting to have one of the absolute worst run defenses in the country, however. It’s been a tough watch when the defensive line is absolutely getting handled.
5) What are your keys to the game, for either or both sides? Who wins?
Sammy: Mizzou doesn’t even need to have a “good” run defense to win this game, it just needs be….mediocre. The secondary might need to come up with a big play or two and force a turnover. Bazelak and Badie need to do their thing. With this game at home and coming off of a tough loss, I think a plenty motivated Mizzou team shows up, and that might be just enough to put away Tennessee. Mizzou 31, Tennessee 27.