Our second game of the season features another SEC-foe, this time it’s Missouri. We had a chance to do an email Q&A session with the Missouri blog, Rock M Nation. Miles was kind enough to answer our questions so read below the fold to find get his take on their matchup with Toledo and how they see things in Columbia.
1) What did you learn about your team from the Murray St. game?
We learned a lot about Mizzou, yet also not really anything at all. We learned that Henry Josey is back, and not only is he running the ball effectively, he seems to have the speed that made him an elite running back for the majority of the 2011 season. We also learned that our new Offensive Coordinator was true to his word, and we did see many more Tight End in tight formations, pistol sets, and a heavier reliance on the run game. But we also didn’t learn some things about this team. Beating up an FCS team makes it hard to judge the team in general. The line struggled to get holes open at times (at least in the first half). Is that because of an above average D-Line for Murray State, or was it Mizzou keeping things vanilla and not giving up tape of how they alter their blocking scheme against certain fronts? We shall see. Was Murray State’s QB and O Line really good or is our D Line also keeping things vanilla? But most importantly over all, we learned that this team was and has stayed healthy. And healthy is very, very good for Mizzou.
2) What aspect of the Missouri game plan concerns you the most?
The part of the game plan that concerns me most about this weeks game plan is the D-Line of Mizzou. Murray State’s offense ran a lot of quick to the flat throws, and QB runs up the middle to negate our D End play. And it showed in the stat line, with most of our D Lineman having goose eggs or a very, very limited number of tackles. While it is easy to say Murray State planned it that way, it will be important for the Ends (Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Shane Ray) to get some pressure this week, and for our D Tackles to plug up the middle and wreck some havoc. If we can get some hurries, sacks and collapse the pocket, Mizzou should be looking pretty on D, especially with Toledo’s forte being the pass. Besides the D Line, the LB and Secondary corps played very well last week, and this game will be an excellent test of our pass defense and cover skills, especially with some of our somewhat young secondary.
3) What are three keys to Missouri’s success in this game?
As outlined above, one major key to success will be a general improvement in the play of our D Line. The second and third keys to victory will be on offense, with O Line play and Quarterback play being major factors in how Mizzou competes in this game and prepares for the rest of the season. Will the O Line fully dominate against an opponent they should dominate, unlike last game? If they can, the holes should be bigger for both Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough, and that is a very, very good thing. And this will be Senior Quarterback James Franklin’s second game in the Off. Coord. Josh Henson’s system. He needs to continue to show the comfort and confidence in the system he displayed last game, and continue to lead the offense on efficient and successful possessions, as well as negating turnovers, we don’t need to give Toledo any more chances to play catch and run. If we can meet these three goals, Mizzou should play very, very well on Saturday.
4) Toledo is very familiar with Gary Pinkel from his time with our program. Do you think that tie factors into this game at all and will help or hurt either team?
Pinkel himself has said this week that this weekends game isn’t sentimental to him, that it is nothing more than football game. But I think, and I don’t mean offense with this at all, that if the game goes as MU fans and odds makers think it will, Pinkel will call off the dogs earlier than he normally would, I don’t think that he will want to run up the score against his old team. But otherwise, I think this game is business as usual for Mizzou.
5) Coach Pinkel is in his 13th season with the Tigers. He has experienced some successful years, and more recently, some sub-par performances along with off field issues. He is undoubtedly on the hot seat this season. What needs to happen for him to keep his job?
The answer is pretty easy, as it is the goal of most coaching staffs besides the perennial National Championship contenders, a winning season and a bowl appearance. That outcome ensures that Pinkel keeps his job. If he fails at that, I really don’t see a way that he keeps his job, which is unfortunate. Pinkel has earned himself a pass for a sub par season. But the move to SEC made a sub par season unacceptable, and a second will likely bring in a coaching change. The good news for MU is that the team, unlike last year’s, is healthy, the young offensive talent has gained a year of experience in SEC play, and we have a Senior QB in charge of the offense. A repeat of a losing season and no bowl berth is highly unlikely, and many fans have their sights set higher that .500.
Thanks again to Miles at Rock M Nation for the Q&A.