The Xtra Point: The Tigers Meet Their Opposites
Missouri has been consistently solid all year on both sides of the ball. Whether they decide to pass the ball or run the ball, whether they're rushing the line the scrimmage or playing zone coverage, their play has earned them a number eight ranking. This Saturday, the Tigers are preparing to take on their polar opposites as they travel to play Kentucky.
Instablitiy is one word to describe the Kentucky football team.
A lot of Kentucky's struggles are due to the inability for the Wildcats to find their star quarterback. As of right now, they have a timeshare at that position with Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow sharing snaps. Although Missouri doesn't have James Franklin, they have a suitable replacement in Maty Mauk who, in just three starts, has more passing yards than Whitlow and only 125 less passing yards than Smith. With the inconsistency for Kentucky at the quarterback position and Missouri's 39 game forced turnover streak, Kentucky's quarterbacks will struggle airing out the ball with a secondary that stars E.J Gaines and Randy Ponder.
If the quarterback situation at Kentucky is bad, the running back situation is worse. The Wildcats run a two-back platoon of Jojo Kemp and Raymond Sanders. To put this in perspective, Marcus Murphy, who is seen as the number three back in Missouri's platoon, has more rushing yards than any player on that Kentucky team. The Wildcats will struggle even more in the run game especially with Missouri's powerful defensive line of Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Markus Golden.
There's nothing too special on Kentucky's defense, however a key player to watch is senior linebacker Alvin Williamson. He is currently second in the SEC in tackles. The offensive line will have to make sure he's being blocked and not breaking up potential big plays. Missouri's offensive line will also need to watch defensive ends Alvin Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. Both have five and a half sacks this year and could rattle Mauk early in the game. Other than that, Missouri's offense doesn't have much to worry about. Mauk has done a solid job starting in relief of Franklin and the run game is firing on all cylinders. As long as the offense continues to play aggressive all game, the Tigers should be ok.
If this was a basketball matchup, Kenctucky would dominate Missouri. But this column is about football and in the world of football, Kentucky isn't so great. Missouri will easily beat Kentucky this year.