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Opponent Preview: Missouri

The Tigers have a recipe for success this season.

Missouri Mascot Truman the Tiger poses in the football stadium against a blue sky.
Truman is ready to have some fun this year.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Opponent: University of Missouri (Summer Preview | Roster | Mizzou Athletics)

When: September 30, 2023, 3:00 PM CT on SEC Network

Where: FirstBank Stadium - Nashville, Tennessee

Last year: 6-7 (3-5 SEC)

The last time we saw these guys: 17-14, Missouri (2022)

Series record: 10-4-1, Missouri

Head Coach: Eliah Drinkwitz (21-19 at Missouri)

Eliah Drinkwitz is a pretty good coach with a sort of weird coaching page. He focuses on the achievements of his kicker and of his bowl game viewership numbers very early, going so far as to compare the Tigers to Steph Curry. It all just seems strange, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that Coach Drinkwitz has built something special in Missouri these past few years, even if the record hasn’t shown it quite yet. He has put together multiple top-20 recruiting classes and that talent has started to develop and congeal into a legitimate contender in the East. He is a passionate, excitable guy, who I expect will be at Missouri for years to come unless a bigger, better opportunity opens up for him.

Offense: Cooking Up Something Great

Brady Cook has completed 72 percent of his 100 pass attempts for over 1,000 yards through this season’s first 4 games. This may end up proving unsustainable, but I doubt it won’t be sustainable against us. Brady Cook is clearly putting together a special season early on, and I am scared of what he will be able to do against our defense. SEC Network agrees with me.

At the end of that clip, they point out that Brady Cook currently has the second-longest streak of passes without an interception in SEC history. Yeah, this is not going to be a messy game like last year. I expect to get picked apart by Cook, although he may get rested early since he has been battling injury. So has Luther Burden, III, Missouri’s top receiver with 500 yards so far this season, but both will be playing Saturday. If either does end up leaving the game, I would expect some of the responsibility on offense to shift over to running back Cody Schrader, a seemingly dense dude who has powered his way to 100 yards per game.

Defense: Draining Out the Grounds

Kris Abrams-Draine has two interceptions and a handful of pass deflections already this year, and I would expect him to be similarly effective against us. The real highlight of this defense is the absolute lack of ground game it has allowed, giving up only 82.5 yards per game, near the top of FBS defenses. Johnny Walker, Jr., Daylan Carnell, and Nyles Gaddy all have multiple sacks, with five other players having one sack each, and I would not be surprised if this defense added to that total early and often. They allow a closer to average number of passing yards per game, but I wouldn’t hold my breath that we’ll hang 500 yards on them through the air. Overall, this is a scary defensive unit that is poised to give us real trouble all game long.

Special Teams: More Like the Special Sauce on Top

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Harrison Mevis’s incredible 61-yard game-winner against Kansas State as time expired. What you may not know is that that is no fluke. He regularly makes it from 50+ yards out. Their punter (yes, he is Australian) is a little less impressive. Riley Williams averages the least number of yards of any punter in the SEC and is 94th in average yards per kick of the 117 FBS-level players that have attempted at least 2.5 punts per game this year. On returns, it was difficult to find individual stats. It does not seem like there is much of a threat in the return department given Missouri’s averages, but it’s not like many teams’ gameplans normally hinge on consistent massive kick returns anyways.

(Reminder in these dark times that our punter, Matthew Hayball, is on the Ray Guy Award Watch List and is coming off a Punter of the Week performance. Eat your heart out, Iowa!)

Schedule: The Ingredients List

Outlook: Bon Appétit

This Missouri team is going to be good. they maybe should have won bigger than they have in some of their games so far, at least on paper. They have too tough of a schedule going down the stretch for the College Football Playoff to be a real possibility, despite what SEC Shorts may try and have you believe:

But I still think they’ve got 9 or 10 wins in them. Who knows, maybe they’ll upset Georgia like they almost did last year and end up in Atlanta. ORRRRR, maybe they’ll play down to us like they’ve done in some recent matchups, slip up, lose, and burn out the rest of the season. A Commodore can dream. right?