Missouri Football Three Keys: Kentucky

Missouri football Three keys

When considering what Missouri needed to do to beat South Carolina this past weekend, the roadmap for success involved forcing Spencer Rattler to do more, not allowing Gamecock running back MarShawn Lloyd to do anything, and cutting down on mistakes.

By Matt Zemek

The Tigers performed each and every one of those tasks to perfection. Their reward was a solid road win which continues to move this season in the right direction. Now, Missouri gets to follow a similar plan and line of attack once again. The Tigers face a team which is similar to South Carolina, the Kentucky Wildcats. Here’s how Eli Drinkwitz can keep this season on track.

Treat Will Levis exactly like the Wildcats treated Spencer Rattler

Will Levis and Spencer Rattler have obvious similarities as SEC quarterbacks. Levis lacks a big arm. He’s a Trent Dilfer type of quarterback in that he is generally responsible with the ball but will make a mistake or two on a big stage. Most of his throws will be in the short flats or the middle of the field. Given the level of defense Mizzou is playing right now, the Tigers should have every expectation that they can contain Levis and bottle up the Kentucky offense, much as they smothered Rattler and the South Carolina passing game. Missouri’s defense is the clear strength of the team. Pouncing on limited, flawed quarterbacks is an essential component of a Missouri victory.

Key on Chris Rodriguez

The Kentucky running back is a different type of back than MarShawn Lloyd of South Carolina. He doesn’t have the consistency or star power of Lloyd, but Rodriguez has proven he can do serious damage to opposing defenses. It doesn’t show up all the time, but the potential is there. Which version of Rodriguez will show up in this game? Missouri has to do its best to make sure the best version never emerges.

Brady Cook must balance ball security with limited aggression

This game key can also be called, “Pick your spots wisely.” Mizzou has had a strong defense nearly all year (the Kansas State game being an exception), but Kentucky is right behind the Tigers. Mizzou fields the nation’s 19th-ranked total defense and Kentucky is 20th. The statistical differences between the two defenses are negligible; only nine total yards allowed per game separate the two teams. Kentucky just faced Tennessee. The Vols have an elite offense. Missouri has a very ordinary offense. Brady Cook obviously doesn’t want to give a short field to Kentucky’s offense by committing an unnecessarily risky throw in his own territory. However, at or near midfield, Brady Cook needs to take some shots down the field. If he gets intercepted inside the Kentucky 5-yard line on a deep ball, that’s just like a coffin-corner punt. Kentucky will have bad field position. Cook needs to know when to take a chance and when to play it safe in this game.

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