For Mizzou, week two of the young college football season brings on the Toledo Rockets of the MAC. Toledo is coming off of a 9-4 season where they appeared in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (okay, now I’m hungry). Despite a 24-6 loss to Florida in week one, Toledo is a much tougher test than Mizzou saw in Murray State. Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel had his first head coaching job at Toledo from 1991-200 where he compiled a 73-37-3 overall record with one conference title. Here are the five things I’ll be looking for this week.
1. Will the Defense step up?
As I detailed yesterday, the defense showed some weaknesses in the first quarter against Murray State. Murray State scored touchdowns on two of their first three possessions, and missed a makeable field goal on the third. The defense tightened up after, but the first quarter was definitely concerning. Toledo was held to a mere six points last week by Florida. While Florida may have one of the best defenses in the country, that shows that Toledo does not have an elite offense.
2. Is Mizzou pressuring the quarterback?
While EJ Gaines may be Mizzou’s best defensive player, he can’t defend forever. The Mizzou defensive line, starting with Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, must get pressure on the quarterback for Mizzou’s defense to succeed.
3. How many targets does DGB get?
Last week, Dorial Green-Beckham led Mizzou in receiving yards with a career high 83 yards on four catches out of six targets. I’m on record saying that DGB is the key to Mizzou having a chance at an eight or nine win season in 2013. Pinkel should go to DGB early and often in this game to establish him as the go-to guy.
4. Will the field goal kicking game be a liability this year?
FCS teams should not be blocking your extra points. Against good teams, a missed PAT may cost Mizzou a game. Maybe it was just a fluke instead of a sign of blocking issues.
5. How hard will the TV analysts hammer the Pinkel coached at Toledo angle?
I’ll be watching this game on TV, and I’m already expecting ESPNU to go way overboard on these references. ESPN has a tendency to pick one story line and hammer it for an entire game (see: Chase Daniel’s Family, 2008 Alamo Bowl). While Pinkel did coach there, there’s not a single player he recruited or coach he hired left. The AD who hired him at Toledo is long gone (fun fact: It was Al Bohl). Let’s hope they can just mention it once, and let it rest.
Parting thought: It was great to see Henry Josey show some of the burst that he had in 2011 on his 68-yard touchdown run. Let’s hope he keeps that up for the rest of the year.
Watchability Rating (1 = Paint Drying, 10 = 2007 Fiesta Bowl): 2.
Other than Mizzou and Toledo fans, there won’t be a lot of interest in this game.
Prediction: Mizzou 41 Toledo 17