COMMENTARY: Kentucky Keys to the Game

Friday, Oct. 26-

Fifth time’s a charm? While much was made of Mizzou’s move to the SEC this year, they’ve opened conference play 0-4 including being blown out by No. 1 Alabama and No. 7 South Carolina. The Tigers’ best chance at a conference win comes this week when the SEC’s perennial doormat Kentucky comes to town.

The key for the Tigers is going to be the passing game. Corbin Berkstresser struggled against Vanderbilt or Alabama while the injury-plagued offensive line was overwhelmed by superior defenses.

If the offense is going to play well at all this year, it’s going to be this week. Kentucky has the No. 91 pass defense in the country, and center Mitch Morse will be back from his MCL injury. Kentucky’s run defense is less than stellar as well so Kendial Lawrence should have a nice game and help set up the aerial attack for Berkstresser.

Against a defense like the Wildcats’, Berkstresser has to complete more than 47 percent of his passes. He needs to average more than 5.5 yards per attempt, and he probably will. While he hasn’t been particularly good, he has faced defenses that are far better then Kentucky’s.

The point of Mizzou’s spread offense is to get the ball to players in space and let them make plays. However, this year they’ve been looking for a deep ball that hasn’t worked, due to the offensive line not giving the quarterback enough time to throw.

The few times the quarterbacks have been able to get the ball off, the receivers have had problems with drops. The bubble screens have practically disappeared and despite moderate success, the run game hasn’t been able to open up the offense. If Berkstresser can find some early success, he will have his best game as a Tiger.

As long as the offense plays decently, the defense should continue to play well enough and Mizzou should finally get its first SEC win.

The game starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at Faurot Field.

-Mike Bonomo
23 Sports
Staff Writer