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It's GAMEDAY!!! The Coronavirus switched things up for Kentucky a little bit this week. Instead of hosting Georgia in a primetime slot this evening, the Wildcats travelled to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers. Coming off of a big time program victory over Tennessee last week, UK will look to get over .500 on the season with another road win.
Missouri is 1-2 on the season and coming off of a bye week. Two Saturday's ago the Tigers beat the defending national champion LSU 45-41. They have losses to Alabama (38-19) and Tennessee (35-12). In his first season in CoMo, Eli Drinkwitz is looking to put his mark on the program and has already turned over the offensive reigns to Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Connor Bazelak.
As always, for a more in-depth look at Missouri check out Adam Luckett's Scouting Report
and go over How Kentucky Beats Missouri
by Freddie Maggard. For a quick breakdown of some key points, stay right here for the 5 Things You Need to Know! Let's get to it!
Connor Bazelak is Slinging It
A former four star recruit, Bazelak quickly became QB1 under Eli Drinkwitz and delivered with a big victory over LSU two weeks ago. In that win Bazelak completed 29 of 34 attempts for 406 yards and four touchdowns.
The Redshirt Freshman ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with 10 yards per attempt. He has significant arm talent and will be a name you will hear for a long time out in Columbia.
Coach Drinkwitz uses tempo and a lot of pre-snap motion and some funky formations to try and confuse opposing defenses. Kentucky will need to put some pressure on Bazelak in the pocket and limit explosive plays through the air to come back home with a victory this evening.
Veteran Skill Talent
Connor Bazelak, deservedly so, has gotten the headlines after taking down LSU two weeks ago, but the Tigers have a strong running game as well with Larry Rountree III. The Senior has rushed for over 3000 yards in his career with 27 trips to the end zone.
He gained 121 yards on just 18 rushes against LSU.
Missouri's top outside receivers are both graduate transfers who have put up big numbers over the course of their careers. Damon Hazelton comes to Missouri from Virginia Tech and Keke Chism made the jump from Division II Angelo State. Both receivers are big play threats. However, it was Tauskie Dove and D'ionte Smith who led the Tigers with six receptions each against LSU. Bazelak will sling it all across the field and the 'Cats secondary will need to come to play once again after two consecutive outstanding performances.
Creative Offensive Scheme
As our very own Freddie Maggard would say, Kentucky must not bite on the fancy lures.
Eli Drinkwitz will draw up the most creative offense that the Wildcats will face all season long. They will use a ton of pre-snap motion and misdirection to keep the defense from getting set. You can expect to see a couple of unique trick plays this afternoon and Mizzou's ability to hit on a couple of those will go a long way to determining their success.
Kentucky must stay disciplined while lining up opposite some very unique formations and cannot miss assignments that are caused by the "flashy lures." Connor Bazelak is connecting for 14 yards per completion through the air and the 'Cats must limit those big plays.
Despite bringing back seven defensive starters, Missouri has struggled on that side of the ball to begin their 2020 season. Through three games they have allowed 38, 35, and 41 points.
The Tigers are 10th in the conference in yards allowed per play and 12th in yards per pass. They are also dead last in the SEC in red zone touchdown rate and is allowing over five points per scoring opportunity. Kentucky's bread and butter will always remain on the ground, but this could a big opportunity for Terry Wilson and the passing attack.
Mizzou uses a 4-2-5 alignment and has some secondary talent that will look to make plays all over the field. Martez Manuel will come up from his spot a nickel and try and stuff the run game some as seen by his team-leading 3.5 tackles for loss. True Freshman Ennis Rakestraw Jr. teams up with Seniors Joshuah Bledsoe and Tyree Gillespie to form a formidable secondary that hasn't lived up to expectations so far this season.
The defense has even more holes in the red zone with opponents getting touchdowns on 12 of 15 trips.
Kentucky will need to finish off drives with touchdowns tonight against the Tigers.
Kicker with a Boot
After garnering a lot of negative attention with a costly missed point after attempt against Ole Miss, Matt Ruffolo has bounced back with a pair of perfect performances. However, it appears that Missouri will have the edge in the kicking department with True Freshman Harrison Mevis. Mevis has already put two 50+ yarders through the uprights this season.
If the game is close in the fourth quarter this could be a critical advantage at home for the Tigers.