Missouri played their worst game of the season last Saturday against Indiana. There are many things that need to be corrected if the Tigers are to have a chance this Saturday at South Carolina.
Mizzou needs to step its game up against South Carolina from what it displayed against Indiana last Saturday in order to have a chance against the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina. Here are a number of things that the Tigers need to correct Saturday night.
The Tigers must play their A game. Mizzou played their D game against the Hoosiers. Conversely, Indiana played their A game. This will get you beat every time.
The new starters and the reshuffled starter on Mizzou’s offensive line need to protect Mauk better. Mauk was running for his life on many of the Tigers passing plays. Mauk needs to improve on short and medium range passes, especially when on the move. This is not easy. He did make some great plays against Indiana while scrambling. One was a tremendous strike to Marcus Murphy which was dropped.
Penalties along the offensive line must be reduced. Penalties overall must be cut in half, at least.
The center, Evan Boehm, needs to snap the ball better in the shotgun and Mauk needs to catch it better. The entire timing of the offensive unit was out of whack because of this. There were way too many busted plays.
The back-up receivers need to step up. With Darius White out, someone needs to emerge from the pack of back-up receivers to produce and make plays. The back-up group including Wesley Leftwich, J’Mon Moore and Lawrence Lee need to contribute. It will not be enough if only Bud Sasser, Jimmy Hunt and Sean Culkin have receptions. Lawrence Lee is a true freshman from Florida. He has been playing. When watching his films, there were shadings of you know who. He is not there yet. I try to be very careful in whispering the Maclin word, the ultimate gold standard.
If Mauk or anyone else on offense face confusion on the play call they need to go ahead and call a time-out, especially in the first half when time-outs are at a less critical premium.
Mauk needs better ball security when he is running with the ball. He is channeling Johnny Football with his palming, bread-loafing, and directing traffic. Tuck the ball away and be ready for contact. This is basic football fundamentals. I always wanted someone to slap the ball out of Manziel’s hand, but they could never get close enough to take a swipe, the little devil …
The Mizzou defense must create turnovers. The Tigers nation-leading turnovers forced streak was broken and the Tigers lost. That is not a concidence.
The D line did a pretty good job with pressure on Indiana’s quarterback in the absence of Markus Golden. Hopefully, Golden will be available and full speed. If not, someone else needs to step up the rush. Charles Harris got his first start against Indiana. He got a sack. He needs more. The redshirt freshman from the Interscholastic League in Kansas City looks like he will be right in the mix for the next great defensive end from Mizzou. This is another great signing of a completely unknown player by Pinkel and company. Mizzou’s defensive tackles were on a tear against Central Florida the week before, but were less effective against Indiana on the pass rush. And the Hoosiers ran all over Mizzou. Harold Brantley needs to step it up again. He is extemely agile and fast and has a monster upside potential. All of Mizzou’s defensive ends and interior linemen need to have a huge game against South Carolina. Mizzou goes two-deep all the time on the defensive front four and the talent is there to do so.
The defensive backs need to refrain from dumb and flagrant penalties, especially at critical times.
Mizzou’s coaching staff needs to step up the offensive play calling. Mauk was under tremendous pressure last week against Indiana, running for his life much of the time. A few designed quarterback runs straight up the middle and between the tackles, with or without delay, would help immensely. Mizzou’s spread tends to stagnate if the quarterback doesn’t run the ball. When things are going well the coaches forget about this. When things aren’t going well it is needed. It does not matter if it even gains any yards. You have to keep the defense honest and make them account for Mauk running it by running straight at them between the tackles and/or just outside the tackles. These power blasts up the middle by the quarterback often go for big yardage. This has been a feature of Mizzou’s spread going back to Brad Smith and all the way up through Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert and James Franklin. You have to make the Gamecocks account for Mauk who is a trememdous runner. Ignoring the dedicated quarterback run out of the spread is simply ignoring one of your most effective plays. Additionally, the inside screen needs to be used. A Utah pass would also be effective, but Mizzou’s spread has never really employed it. Mizzou needs to take the ball first if they get a chance instead of deferring. If Mizzou is in a close game at the end, the coaching staff must manage the game clock and timeouts better. And if you are at mid-field with no time on the clock and one play to win it, it has to be a Hail Mary. This is axiomatic. It is just a complete no-brainer. Amen.
That is a lot of things for the Tigers to correct. In order to win at a tough place on the road, the Tigers will have to correct these items above. The Tigers must play their A game on the road against a big-time opponent. Just like Indiana played their A game against Mizzou in Columbia. Missouri played about their D game and got burned for it. And a tip of the cap to Indiana, they were pretty good and had a very effective rushing game. In this day and age, if you do not play your A game you will usually get beat if you are playing a good team, especially on the road.
Mizzou has a good chance at South Carolina if they can correct these matters and continue to play well in all the other areas. South Carolina is the only SEC East team Mizzou has not beaten since joining the SEC. The Tigers had South Carolina covered at halftime last year at Mizzou. Exit Dylan Thompson and enter Connor Shaw and that was all she wrote. The whole game changed. Fortunately, Shaw has completed his eligiblity. The Tigers had no answer for him in the first two games of this SEC East battle of the Columbias. Thompson will be the starter for the Gamecocks.
To channel Dennis Green, after last weekend Mizzou, South Carolina, Indiana and Vanderbilt may not be who we thought they were. At least as it concerns the Tigers and Gamecocks, we will have more clarity after Saturday night. Or maybe not. If that is the case, stay tuned for the next crazy Steve Spurrier press conference. This will be very interesting.