Peeps, tonight we roll into Columbia, Missouri for a Thursday night tilt with the Mizzou Tigers. Mizzou has struggled this season and the Dawgs are on a 3 game win streak, playing their best football of the season. So what will it take for State to walk away with a much needed conference road win? Here's what I think:
1. Turnovers: The Dawgs need to keep from giving Mizzou extra possessions. Dak Prescott threw his first interception of 2015 last season, going 288 pass attempts before giving one up to UK. The RBs need to hold on to the football. Every member of the committee has at least one fumble this season.
Conversely, the Dawgs' D has finally started to get some turnovers the last couple of weeks. That trend needs to continue tonight. A couple of picks of true freshman QB Drew Lock would be a huge blow to his confidence.
2. QB Pressure: State needs to heat up Lock. He's a true freshman and Mizzou has struggled mightily, especially on third downs, since he took over. Lock will be good in time, but right now he's struggling. Manny Diaz needs to send the blitz early and often. Disguise the coverages and force Lock to make reads he isn't ready to make yet. This is a game where AJ Jefferson, Ryan Brown, Chris Jones, JT Gray, Kivon Coman, etc. need to show up big time. Even if they aren't getting sacks, they need to be forcing Lock to move off his spot, throw early, and/or hit him right after the ball is released. Do it often enough, he's going to collapse.
3. Be Physical: This applies to our offensive line most of all. Mizzou may be having problems with their O, but their D has been very good. And as is usually the case, they've got some scary good D-Ends. State needs to do a good job of exerting its' will up front when we try to run. And it's imperative they protect Dak Prescott in pass pro. I'm not overly worried about it, but Mizzou has a history of getting to the QB.
Let's be honest a minute: Despite playing well on D, Mizzou is a hot mess right now. They are struggling to score and have been horrendous on 3rd down the last month. This is a game the Dawgs "should" win and win fairly comfortably. We just need to make sure we show up and play hard instead of going through the motions. I think it benefits us having the bye week to heal up some of the bumps, bruises, and dings and get the young Pups some extra reps. I'd love to see us come out and try to establish Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams running the football early in the game, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think State opens up a can on Mizzou and wins comfortably, provided we don't come out flat or have a bunch of turnovers. Win and we're 7-2 with 10 days to get ready for Bama in Starkville, which is right where we want to be.
What are your thoughts? How do you see State handling Mizzou?