Mizzou vs South Dakota St.: a Review

Mizzou is 1-0 after defeating South Dakota St. 38-18. And that’s something considering South Carolina is 0-1 and UGA could be 1-0 after beating Clemson when I finish this review. Mizzou needs to win the games they are supposed to win to stay in the game.

Before the game I had five things I wanted to watch for in this game to see what Missouri was in light of all the changes this offseason. And now I’ll evaluate those five things from today’s action.

At the outset of this review I want to give South Dakota a lot of credit. Their starting QB went down very early and they adjusted excellently. They ran the ball very well—Zenner was lights out fast. This allowed their backup to get comfortable and make great throws into small windows. They effectively utilized a 3-man defensive front to confuse the Missouri blockers. They switched from their base 3-4 to a 3-4 where the linebackers all backed away from the line of scrimmage two more yards than usual. They also incorporated 3-3-5 formations and even 3-2-6 dime packages. The Jackrabbits’ secondary blanketed Missouri receivers when the pass rush wasn’t getting there quickly. They played very well.

  1. Maty Mauk started the game out very well. Mizzou QBs over the last seven years seem to throw tall. By that they are standing straight up and have a very easy motion—even putting some zip on the ball. After four good drives, connecting on some beautiful deep throws to Darius White for a pair of TDs.  The rest of the game Mauk looked out of it. I don’t know if it was a lack of trust in his receivers, the Jackrabbit defensive schemes or Mauk just isn’t comfortable yet as the starter. But he quieted down until the fourth quarter when he went deep to Bud Sasser for the final TD of the game, making the score 35-18. He had zero turnovers which always helps. So hopefully his woes will disappear as he plays more this season.
  2. Piggybacking off of the previous point, the receivers seemed to be in tune with their QB early on. Then they couldn’t do anything for a long time. And I can’t say why exactly. There were some great flashes between White, Marcus Murphy (who just balled all day today except for a muffed punt) and Bud Sasser. But I hope they can develop a report with Mauk before SEC games start on Sept. 27 against South Carolina—who will also have gotten better in light of their beat down in week one. Luckily the run game will buy Missouri some time to get on the same page.
  3. Markus Golden and Shane Ray reminded us that the time they got in rotation with Sam and Ealy last season was a good thing. They combined for three sacks. The pass rush from the front four looks to remain intact after losing such great talent from last season.
  4. However, the Missouri front-seven still struggled against the run and in screens. South Dakota State was able to break their running back Zenner open for a 75-yard TD on their first offensive play of the game when the nickel defender and the middle linebacker missed on a blitz. His running the ball helped keep the QB upright as often as he was. South Dakota didn’t use the screen game as much as some teams did last year. But they were able to make big gains with them, including converting key third downs. Mizzou’s 4-2-5 is struggling to defend against the run game, which opens up vertical passing lanes. Watching Todd Gurley of UGA makes me very nervous—he was injured last year when Missouri played UGA.
  5. Missouri’s defense has the longest active streak for consecutive games with a turnover. That continued today when Missouri’s secondary forced three turnovers: two interceptions and one fumble recovery. However, they were getting beat too much for facing an FCS team. Part of it was due to scheme. Coach Steckle uses a lot of Cover-2 shells (that is the two safeties play 20 yards deep, each covering half of the field while the corners play shallow zones to cover the flats). Many QBs in college football can’t make the throws into the open windows. But today, and most teams that Missouri will face in the SEC, the QB made the throws often. Other times the DBs were out of position and just plain beaten. Mizzou looks to be a team that lives and dies by the success of the four defensive linemen to slow the run and rush the passer.

Missouri won the game and that’s the most important thing. How uneven Mizzou looked today plays into the new playoff scenario I don’t know. But today won’t help their case to make the Final Four. Pinkel said in fall camp that offensive execution was inconsistent, and that proved true today. But I think Mizzou will even out with more games.

Until then, enjoy a 102-yard kick-off return by Marcus Murphy: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:11438700


~ by hankimler on August 31, 2014.

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