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AoG Offensive Preview: Missouri

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After the SEC’s nice little change up, here’s a preview of our Big XII opponent

Missouri v Arkansas
It took 7 pages of scrolling to find a picture of a current Missouri offensive player, and this one is from last year.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Vanderbilt plays Tennessee Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, forcing a number of difficult cancellations on the Dores such a Senior Day and a series of parents who haven’t been able to see their kids play. A brief note on this: I don’t think that’s Vanderbilt’s fault. The fact of the matter is that the SEC pulled the switcharoo here. That being said, yours truly will get you prepped on our Big XII rival opponent.

Overall Offensive Performance

Missouri is 7th in the SEC and 42nd in the NCAA in passing ypg at 257.2, just ahead of Texas A&M. They aren’t particularly close to the top end passing squads in the league, but they are more than serviceable. Texas A&M is a decent barometer for their passing performance to date, at least in terms of standard yardage. They do not do a particularly good job of scoring via the pass, as they only have 5 total touchdown passes. They have, however, thrown only one interception all season. Not particularly explosive, they are affective in the midrange as they get 7.61 yards per attempt and average 11 yards per completion. They are also highly ranked in completion percentage 68%.

Their running game comes in at 127 ypg, just ahead of Vanderbilt who is at 126.3, which makes them 10th in the SEC in that statistic. They average 3.36 yards per rush, also 10th in the SEC, with 7 rushing TDs.

They convert 42 percent of the time on 3rd downs, which is about middle of the pack in the SEC as well. They also aren’t afraid to go for it on 4th down, where they have attempted the 4th most tries in the SEC in only 5 games, successfully achieving conversions at 69%. Interestingly enough, they have the fewest red zone attempts in the SEC with only 15. They are averaging only 22.6 ppg in scoring offense, ahead of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Missisippi State, so the offense is lighting the world on fire.

Quarterback

The Tigers began the season not committing to one definitive starter, but they appear to have settled on redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak over TCU transfer Shawn Robinson. Robinson started and played against Alabama in their season opener, and has only played since against Tennessee. Bazelak has a 139 QB rating, completing 68% for 1,304 yards and 5 Tds, with very solid performances against South Carolina, Kentucky, and LSU, and not so good at Florida and Tennessee. Not a super successful runner at this level, he was a wishbone QB in high school, so he’s not a totally inept runner, as he demonstrated against Kentucky where he ran 10 times for 40 yards. All in all, he does a pretty decent job running the offense, even if he doesn’t set the world on fire.

Running Back

The top running back here is senior Larry Rountree III, who has rushed 122 times for 490 yards and 5 touchdowns, good for 4 ypc. Rountree is only responsible for 1 fumble this year, which came against LSU. Rountree isn’t a big player at 5’10” 210 lbs. While he isn’t particularly used in the passing game, he can keep teams honest with his abilities out of the backfield, as he showed against Florida where he had 6 catches for 26 yards. The only other player who gets touches (other than Bazelak) is junior Tyler Badie, who has 36 carries for 142 yards and 1 touchdown, good for 3.9 ypc. He also has one fumble to his name. Badie, however, can and will catch the ball out of the backfield, as he was their top pass catcher last year. This year he has 13 catches for 200 yards and 2 TDs, and he paces their top receiver in this category.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

The Tigers rely on a number of pass-catching targets and really spread the wealth. Their leading receiver Jalen Knox, has 25 catches for 248 yards. In addition to Knox, they have KeKe Chism, Damon Hazelton, Tauskie Dove, Barrett Bannister, and the aforementioned Badie all with 10+ catches for over 100 yards. They will also rely on TE Niko Hea at times who has 9 catches for 80 yards and a TD.

Offensive Line

Missouri’s offensive line was a question mark coming into this season, but it’s held up ok in pass protection, allowing 10 sacks over five games. They do allow a lot of tackles for loss at about 6.6 per game. They have settled on a crew at this point that seems to get the job done.

Coaching/Coordinator

Eliah Drinkwitz is both the offensive play caller and the head coach. He originally started under Gus Malzahn but his offense isn’t exactly like his. Still, it’s a multiple look that he likes to use and obviously the use of many receivers shows how he likes to get creative in getting the ball to keep defenses off balance. The Tigers have a few nice pieces, but they are probably a year or two away from making a jump offensively.