Missouri football: The 4 biggest concerns Mizzou has about facing Texas A&M
Even before the Alabama game, Texas A&M was going to be a difficult challenge for Mizzou, but now that the Aggies pulled the upset, the task of beating the Aggies in College Station just got harder.
Now, the Tigers have a whole new set of issues to be concerned about regarding the Aggies that they may not even have thought of before this past weekend’s game.
What are they? Let’s examine the 4 biggest concerns the Tigers should have about facing Texas A&M.
Aggies QB Zach Calzada has found his footing
Before Saturday’s game against the Tide, Calzada hardly looked like a threat to any team in the country, especially to the Crimson Tide.
This is the same team that lost to Arkansas a week earlier by 10 points and couldn’t get anything going, but they may have found magic with Calzada.
Calzada lit up the Tide to the tune of 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. After seeing what North Texas quarterback Austin Aune did in the second half against Mizzou in Week 6, coach Eli Drinkwitz has to be worried. Aune threw for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns, most of it in the second half. Although Mizzou was up big at the time, the Mean Green made it interesting.
Calzada has a chance to torch the Mizzou secondary, which is not good news for this defense that already is struggling to stop the run.
Limiting big plays
Texas A&M used several big plays to beat Alabama, including Devon Achane’s 96-yard kickoff return for a TD.
The Aggies also had 2 TD receptions covering at least 25 yards.
Mizzou, as we all know, has struggled mightily to stop big plays.
Pick any yardage, and the Tigers rank last or next-to-last in the SEC in explosive plays allowed.
They’ve allowed 100 plays covering at least 10 yards, for instance, and 5 that have covered at least 60. No other Power 5 team has allowed more than that.
The Aggies have explosive playmakers in Achane, who has sprinter’s speed, and Ainias Smith, a running back converted to receiver to just to get his hands on the ball. Lead back Isaiah Spiller is 2nd in the SEC with 3 runs covering at least 40 yards, which already matches his 2020 total.
Texas A&M’s quick-strike ability will stress Mizzou’s defense.
The Aggies’ defense is no joke
Another thing that has to give Drinkwitz nightmares has to be the Aggies’ defense, which is allowing just 16.8 points per game — and that includes the Alabama game.
In the first half of the Alabama game, A&M only gave up 7 points to an Alabama team that scores 35 points or more per game.
They also made life miserable for Bryce Young, who was sacked 4 times and forced to leave the pocket many more times. Young and the Bama offense bounced back in the second half, but it wasn’t easy.
The key against Alabama was the Aggies surprisingly owned the line of scrimmage. They also out-schemed the Tide, creating mismatches and overloads that led to free paths to Young.
Now, they are going up against a Mizzou o-line with lesser talent and a quarterback who isn’t as good as Young.
Jimbo Fisher devised the perfect plan to stop Alabama in its tracks. His defensive and offensive schemes gave Alabama fits all day. The Tide at least in the first half had no answer on either side of the ball. Against Mizzou, the 2 biggest things the Aggies can do to beat them is to control the line of scrimmage and to run the ball down the Tigers’ throats.
One thing that the Aggies didn’t do well against Alabama was run the football. Spiller topped 1,000 yards last season, but hasn’t really gotten untracked in 2021. Part of that is the fact A&M’s o-line is filled with new faces.
But Fisher knows that Mizzou can’t stop the run and that this will be his chance to get the Aggies’ running game going.
Mizzou must find a way to counter all that the Aggies will bring Saturday. It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. If Mizzou can maybe follow the blueprint Arkansas used to beat the Aggies, they may have a chance Saturday.
As Bama found out, anything can happen.