Against Indiana last week, Missouri’s balanced attack moved the ball at will, producing 623 yards of offense, its highest output against an FBS opponent since 2008. Arkansas State doesn’t figure to be much better defensively, having already allowed nine passes of at least 30 yards. Only four FBS teams have given up more through the first four weeks of the season. Quarterback James Franklin and his convoy of receivers could put together another prolific day.
Missouri’s defensive line didn’t collect a sack at Indiana, but the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage and had IU quarterbacks on the run all night. Mizzou’s defensive front figures to be in the backfield plenty today. Only 12 FBS teams have allowed more sacks than Arkansas State’s 11. Memphis sacked ASU quarterback Adam Kennedy seven times last week in a 31-7 Memphis victory. And you can bet the Mizzou coaches made a call this week to the coordinator behind Memphis’ dominant performance: former MU assistant coach Barry Odom.
Speaking of defensive coordinators, Missouri’s Dave Steckel unleashed a new three-man defensive line in the third quarter against Indiana, a package that seemed to bewilder the Hoosiers’ offensive line. Will Steckel go back to the 3-4 look against Arkansas State or keep it on the shelf for an unsuspecting SEC opponent? With defensive tackle Matt Hoch nursing a lower leg injury, the Tigers might have to think about playing more three-man fronts for depth purposes.
GATTI on guard
Missouri’s offensive line held up well at Indiana despite missing senior left guard Max Copeland, who was still feeling the effects of a high ankle sprain suffered Sept. 7 against Toledo. The Tigers didn’t appear to miss the veteran starter too much as junior backup Anthony Gatti slid over from left tackle to play guard, rotating some with Brad McNulty, normally the team’s backup center. (In making his first career start, Parkway North’s Gatti also became the first player from a St. Louis area high school to start for the Tigers this year.) If Copeland is cleared to play today, the coaches might still favor a rotation between Copeland and Gatti.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk didn’t get his planned series at the start of the second quarter against Indiana because, Gary Pinkel later admitted, the coaches forgot to put him in the game. Mauk was warming up on the sideline and appeared ready to take the field, but Franklin played up until the game’s final possession. Pinkel insisted the staff plans to play Mauk some against Arkansas State, which could be the last meaningful snaps he gets if the Tigers decide to change their plans for SEC play next week.
Prediction: Missouri 45, Arkansas State 14