Mizzou Xtra: Tigers take their talents to Toledo
COLUMBIA - Last week's win for Missouri's football team wasn't necessarily pretty, but the Tigers got the job done against South Dakota State. Still, things don't get any easier from here. The Tigers have a tougher opponent on the docket Saturday: the Toledo Rockets. This will be Missouri's first division one opponent this year.
Maty Mauk had a decent game against South Dakota State, but this could be the week he shines. Toledo gave up 291 passing yards and two touchdown passes to Sean Goldrich, the quarterback for New Hampshire Wildcats.
With Mauk being an upper-tier SEC quarterback, he should have no problem dissecting the Toledo secondary, especially given that team's recent injury woes in that area. Expect Darius White and Bud Sasser to take advantage of that fact and be more aggressive on longer passes.
After a breakout game last week against, Russell Hansbrough will get to reprise his performance against Toledo, especially since he won't be splitting carries with the currently doubtful Morgan Steward.
This match up will be tougher than last week, as Toledo held New Hampshire to 37 rushing yards on 31 carries. While Hansbrough is much better than any New Hampshire players, those numbers are still a bit concerning. Mauk will be the focus of the offense, but expect Hansbrough to get a decent amount of carries as well.
The biggest challenge for the Missouri Tigers will be in the trenches. The Missouri defensive line, led by Markus Golden and Shane Ray, will face a Toledo offensive line that is starting five seniors. This match up will be the X-factor of the game.
The Tigers will have to deal with Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, who rushed for more than 800 yards last season and had 136 just last week. This means Missouri's linebackers need to step it up a notch. Look for Kentrell Brothers to lead the way in terms of stopping runs short.
The experienced offensive line will be most concerning in the passing game where the Rockets are starting former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Phillip Ely. He threw for 337 passing yards and four passing touchdowns.
Missouri's secondary is easily the weakest aspect of the team as it gave up 200+ passing yards to an FCS backup quarterback last week.
If the Tigers let Ely sit in the pocket all day, he will pick Missouri's secondary apart. The key for the Tigers is to put pressure on Ely consistently. Just having him hear the footsteps of Markus Golden, Shane Ray or Matt Hoch should shake him up.
As for the linebackers, Missouri should be playing around with different blitz packages in order to squeeze Ely as much as it can. If Missouri's turnover streak ends here, the Toledo offensive line will probably be the reason why.
A lot of analysts have Missouri on upset alert this week against Toledo. After a lackluster performance against South Dakota State, some people think that Missouri will stumble against a potent Toledo team.
But let's not forget why Missouri is a ranked team: because they can play a good game of football. It will be a close high-scoring aerial assault, but Missouri will be the victors in this game.
Expect a Heisman-esque performance from Mauk and a strong performance from Ely as well.