Q & A With Rock M Nation

Missouri Tigers blog, Rock M Nation, was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding Saturday's game. Thanks to Rock M Nation and good luck on Saturday.

The Tigers struggled rushing the ball last week, will Tony Temple return and do you expect the Missouri rushing attack to rebound?

I expect the Missouri rushing attack to rebound simply because it is not facing the Oklahoma defense anymore. Most teams in the country would have problems running the ball against the Sooners and the Tigers (and their athletic but not overpowering offensive line) were no exception. Temple has been upgraded to probable and I'd assume he'll be eased back into action. One of Temple's greatest assets is his blitz protection, and although Missouri's stable of backs did a respectable job in that regard last week, Temple brings a level of experience to both rushing and blocking that Jimmy Jackson, Earl Goldsmith, and Derrick Washington don't. I don't expect the Tigers to rebound in any big way, but I can see a 100-150 yard day for the team spread amongst Temple, Jackson, Washington, Chase Daniel, and Jeremy Maclin.

OU seems to have a unique ability to slow the spread offense, what did OU do that other teams haven't been able to do to slow Chase Daniel & Co.?

OU was able to do two things to "slow down" Missouri: bring LOTS of pressure from many different places, and have athletes on defense on par with the athletes Missouri has on offense. I tip my hat to Stoops and Venables - the Sooner gameplan was outstanding, despite the numbers the Tigers put up. The pressure threw the Tigers out of rhythm on several offensive possessions and never allowed anything to develop downfield. When OU started sitting back and not playing aggressive towards the end of each half, Daniel and the Tigers picked the Sooners apart. Additionally, OU's team speed was incredible. Missouri's rushing attack is pretty slow to develop, and outside of a couple reverses to Maclin, the Sooners seemed to beat Missouri's backs and receivers to each spot of open field.

Pick one thing offensively and one thing defensively that Missouri look to correct from last week's loss to this week against Texas Tech.

Offensively, the Tigers simply have to fix the turnover problem that plagued them last week. If Missouri doesn't turn the ball over four times, the Tigers have a legitimate shot to walk out of Norman with a win. Missouri's offense seems much more comfortable at home and I find it hard to believe the Tigers would shoot themselves in the foot like that in two consecutive weeks (although it would be very Missouri-like). Defensively, the unit needs to do just the opposite: force turnovers. The team blew some golden opportunities last week, including safety Pig Brown (who has been outstanding thus far) dropping a sure pick in the endzone against Oklahoma. The Tigers can't afford to lose the turnover battle against an explosive team like Tech.

What will be Missouri's biggest challenge defensively, stopping Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree, and why?

Why not both? I'm assuming that if Harrell has a big day, then Crabtree will as well, and vice versa. I think that Crabtree will get his touches, and the key for the Missouri defense needs to be shutting down guys like Danny Amendola and Shannon Woods. Tech should get their yards with relative ease against Mizzou's soft zone defense, but the Tigers have been surprisingly stingy in the red zone, and Missouri, Tech, and most spread offenses can commiserate on the difficulty of finishing drives in short yardage with offensive lines with such wide splits. Harrell can throw for 500 yards, but if Missouri keeps the Raiders out of the endzone and forces each drive onto the leg of Alex Trlica, then the Tigers will have a huge advantage.

Other than Crabtree and Harrell, who from the Red Raiders' offense worries the Tigers?

The two names I mentioned above - Shannon Woods and Danny Amendola - worry me simply because you never know what can happen if the Tigers put too much emphasis on shutting down Crabtree. However, like I mentioned above, as long as they are kept out of the endzone, the damage can be minimized and the Missouri offense can take the game over. However, given the amount of zone defense I've seen from the Tigers, I expect Amendola to rack up yards on the drags, hooks, and slants that Leach loves, but Woods could struggle given the way Missouri's defense has pursued ballcarriers so far this season.

Prediction? The QBs are prolific and the Tigers don't break down Harrell like they did last year, but the Missouri defense comes up with a few timely stops and a turnover or two to swing the tide in their favor. Missouri wins a shootout, 44-34.

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