Tennessee Flights Pre-Tennessee Football Game Q&A with MIssouri Rock M Nation Blog
Tennessee is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season, a 27-13 affair that probably wasn’t as close as the scoreboard might indicate. The Vols offense never found a rhythm or groove and found themselves behind the chains on several occasions thanks to pre-snap penalties.
UT has also been roughed up on both lines, but this story is about Missori, and this matchup is a chance for the Vols to rectify both of the aforementioned illnesses.
It’s likely Missouri will try to put a damper on the Vols offense with blitzes and pressure. Tennessee was venerable inside the offensive line and when UGA pressured the nickel. We’ll see if UT’s OL can physically outperform Missouri in a way they couldn’t against the Bulldogs.
The Vols are home, so hopefully the issue with the silly, soul-ripping penalties that put Tennessee first and long against Georgia will take care of itself.
Anyway, we enlisted the help of Sammy Stava (@StavaonSTL) of SB Nation Rock M Nation to give us insight into Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz’s recent contract extension, the Tiger’s much-improved defense and their attack’s lack of firepower.
1.) We’ll start with the raise/extension that Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz recently got. It was something like $2 million more per season, right? What’s the heartbeat of the Tigers fan base on this move? Do you think maybe Drinkwitz was considering a release?
“The contract extension made for Drinkwitz made sense for a vote of confidence and for recruiting purposes. I understood it. I’m a bit puzzled by the raise, but I think the DA basically said to him, “I’ll give you a raise if you hire an offensive coordinator in the offseason.”
I think there are mixed opinions within the fanbase about this move, but you know what? It is not their call. If the athletic department really thinks Drinkwitz is the right fit for this program, then you need to invest in him.
Drinkwitz has produced the best back-to-back recruiting classes (both Top 20 in the country) in Mizzou Football history and I think you still have to let it all play out. However, next year has to be the breakthrough season of his fourth year with a much more manageable schedule. And your last point, maybe Drinkwitz was trying to consider an exit from Columbia – and I don’t think Mizzou wanted to start all over again with a new coach just yet.
2.) Missouri has one of the best defenses in the nation, currently ranked 14th nationally according to NCAA dot com. What was the main driving force behind this unit’s skill improvement?
“Eli Drinkwit’s hiring of defensive coordinator Blake Baker was one of college football’s best offseason recruits and Baker should be a finalist for the Broyles Award as one of the best assistant coaches. The defensive line has been more aggressive in blitzes and coverage in the secondary has been top notch. Overall, I think these personnel fit Baker’s schema and game plan well.
3.) On the other side of the ball, however, the attack was, well, in trouble. The Tigers have scored 17 or fewer points in five of their nine games and haven’t put up more than 23 points in an SEC game. What’s the problem there? QB Brady Cook threw more interceptions than touchdowns (seven INTs to six TDs), but there has to be more than just below-average QB play, right?
“I think Brady Cook is a good quarterback. However, a good quarterback won’t be able to win you many games in the SEC. That said, I think Cook’s numbers would translate much better with a pretty good offensive line – and he didn’t have that luxury either. If you have a good OL, maybe you can get by with a limited QB. If you have a good QB, you might be able to handle a struggling OL. Missouri has neither, making it very difficult to create a productive offense. And it’s frustrating because Mizzou really has playmakers at wide receiver. Dominic Lovett, a 4-star fresh out of high school is having a breakout season in sophomore year. Five-star freshman Luther Burden has all the talent in the world but has had his ups and downs. Mizzou needs an elite quarterback to consistently give these guys the ball. And that’s what’s been frustrating this season, because even if they had an average attack, it would look like an 8-9 winning season with a solid defense.
4.) The Tigers allow third conversions at around 31%, which ranks them 17th in the NCAA. To get out of the field on third downs, it’s usually helpful to have defensive playmakers stepping in at the big moments. Who should Tennessee fans watch out for on Mizzou’s defense?
“After tearing his ACL last season, junior cornerback Ennis Rakestraw is having a breakout season in the secondary with eight pass deflections and three forced fumbles. He was Eli Drinkwitz’s first major recruit in the 2020 class, choosing Mizzou over Alabama and Texas.
Drinkwitz’s biggest addition to the transfer portal this offseason was Florida linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper, who is among the team leaders with 48 tackles for Mizzou so far this season and is arguably the best player in the game. Missouri – not just defensively. He will hear his name called in the first laps of the NFL Draft come in April.
5.) I’m not a big fan of predictions, personally, but if you want to start one, feel free. How do you think the fanbase feels going into this game? Do you think watching UGA toss the Vols like chew toys gave Missouri fans any tangible hope that the team could pull this one off?
“I don’t think the fan base (including me) has any hope for this game, especially since it’s on the road and Tennessee will come out with a chip on their shoulders after their first loss. of the season. The near upheaval against Georgia may give some optimism heading into this game, but not much. Every loss Missouri has had in SEC play has been by possession, but I think that’s going to happen. will end on Saturday.Let’s say Vols around a 31-14 type of game.
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