Mizzou football: Run or pass? How will the Tigers attack a porous Todd Grantham defense Saturday?
Todd Grantham, meet Eli Drinkwitz and the Tigers.
Florida’s defensive coordinator has had a rough go of it this season, as his Gators rank 13th in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 33 points per game. And due to the coronavirus, they haven’t played since Oct. 10.
Rust? Yeah, there might be some on Florida’s side.
That won’t be the case for Mizzou, who are riding high with a two-game win streak and just knocked off a Kentucky team last week that many thought would roll out of Columbia with another dominating rushing attack. As we all know, that didn’t happen. The Tigers stood tall on defense, and Larry Rountree III — now the No. 3 leading rusher in Mizzou history — carried the ball 37 times for 126 punishing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Will Mizzou spoil Florida’s lofty goals for this season with an upset win? Drinkwitz’s offense has shown it can win games different ways.
Against LSU, quarterback Connor Bazelak threw for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing a pass to eight different receivers and going 29-of-34. That’s 85 percent, folks. Those weren’t just swing passes and short throws, either, Bazelak was tossing the ball down the field.
Florida’s pass defense is 13th in the SEC (331 yards per game), and in its last outing against Texas A&M, Kellen Mond threw for 338 yards and 3 TDs. If Mond, who isn’t viewed as one of the SEC’s best passers, can hurt the Gators through the air, Bazelak can, too.
While the passing game had success against LSU, Bazelak took a back seat to Rountree and the offensive line against Kentucky and let the run game go to work.
Mizzou rushed for 220 yards in their 20-10 win. Sure, the Tigers defense had a lot to do with the victory — linebacker Nick Bolton was the SEC’s defensive player of the week and was a man in the tackle box — but Drinkwitz showed he was willing to keep rolling with what was working to win the game. He didn’t get cute or fancy. He kept feeding the rock to Rountree, and it worked.
Florida’s run defense ranks 10th in the SEC at 164 yards per contest. After respectable showings against Ole Miss and South Carolina, the Gators gave up 205 yards on the ground to the Aggies.
So which will it be? Through the air, the ground, or both?
Considering what Mizzou will be going up against on defense — the ultra-productive Kyle Trask-to-Kyle Pitts connection, and the dangerous Kadarius Toney — maybe it’d be wise to keep the Gators offense off the field as much as possible.
Would a ball-control attack work the best, meaning a steady dose of Rountree and Tyler Badie runs while leaning on an O-line that includes the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week, right guard Case Cook?
Whatever Drinkwitz chooses, Mizzou’s offense has shown it can be successful with both this season.
Saturday night is sure to be interesting, as it always is between these teams. Mizzou leads this series all-time 5-4 and is 2-2 at The Swamp.