After struggling to get past Central Michigan, here’s what the Missouri football team must do to beat the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Missouri football team escaped with a win over Central Michigan week 1 in a hard-fought game where both offenses were rather stagnant. After the game, many Missouri football fans were discouraged as there was a lot of hype surrounding the team and they struggled in the first game against a team in the MAC conference.
At the moment, Missouri football fans shouldn’t be too worried, though. It was in fact, the first game with an entirely new defensive staff, a multitude of new players, and CMU really shouldn’t be overlooked as an opponent by anyone.
However, if the Tigers hope to open SEC play against Kentucky with a win this Saturday, this team will have to play better than they did against the Chippewas.
There’s no denying that.
Even head coach Eli Drinkwitz admitted that the Tigers are nowhere near ready to play a team like Kentucky, who is coming off a 45-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe.
With all of that being said, here are 3 keys to victory that Mizzou will have to achieve if they hope to beat the Wildcats as a 6-point underdog this weekend.
No. 1: The Missouri football team must stop Kentucky’s rushing attack
This is easier said than done, Missouri has got to find a way to stop the run game. The Tigers struggled to do this against CMU and the task will be no easier against Kentucky who has emphasized recruiting on the offensive line, giving them one of the strongest units in the league.
Chris Rodriguez, the starting running back for UK, is no slouch and is coming off a game in which he ran for 125 yards and a TD on 19 carries.
Going back to the game against CMU, Missouri allowed a total of 173 yards on the ground to the Chippewas and while the number might actually surprise some fans as it seems like it was even more than that, CMU was able to run at will for a substantial gain almost every time.
While CMU is a respectable opponent, Missouri’s defensive line in particular should not be getting pushed around against an offensive line from the MAC conference and the linebackers have to be better in run support. Missouri’s defense got better throughout that game but one constant that remained was the porous run defense on the Tigers’ part.
Kentucky is a much stronger opponent and a team that will ground and pound against Missouri if it remains just as effective as it was last week and this time around, the Tigers won’t be so lucky to come out with a win.
Missouri may need to play a defensive back or two closer to the line of scrimmage to help in run fits and defensive coordinator will have to further discipline his team in practice by emphasizing the importance of the run defense.