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Previewing the opponent offense: Missouri Tigers

Oh great. Another great passing team.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at 3-2, Missouri has looked at times like a contender for the SEC East and at others just a middle-of-the-pack team. Offensively, they boast one of the top passing offenses in the nation and complement it with a top-35 rushing attack.

They run a fairly standard pro-spread that is similar to Alabama’s offense, just with less read options and RPOs. It’s all led by senior QB Drew Lock, and the Missou offense will live and die by how well he performs. In his third full year as a starter, Lock went from an unknown up-and-comer to a volume-passing gunslinger, and is now working on improving his efficiency as a senior.

He’s averaging almost 300 yards per game at a 60% completion rate and 7.55 yards per attempt, but that doesn’t totally tell the whole story. His opening slate of games against UT Martin, Wyoming, and Purdue saw him average over 350 yards per game and 11 touchdowns to only 1 interception. Since swapping to SEC play, Georgia and South Carolina have both held him under 225 yards, under 50% completion, and 3 interceptions to no touchdowns.

He has a bevy of receiver that he distributes the ball to with little discrimination. Senior Emanuel Hall is the best deep threat of the bunch and leads the team in yards (430) and touchdowns (3), but has been listed as doubtful to play against Alabama due to a groin injury. Slot receiver Jonathan Johnson is one of Lock’s most trusted targets, especially on 3rd downs. He has 21 receptions for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns.

For the third receiver spot, senior Nate Brown and freshman Jalen Knox split time and each have 12 catches on the year. Knox has proven to be more explosive with his oppurtunities so far, and is third on the team with 219 yards.

For all of their catches though, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam leads the team with 28 receptions, with his best game being an 8-catch outing against Georgia. Though he’s only turned those 28 catches into 194 yards, he’s still Lock’s most trusted target and is a constant in keeping the chains moving.

The running game is a three-pronged attack of sophomore Larry Roundtree III, junior Damarea Crockett, and freshman Tyler Badie. Roundtree is a 210 pound every down back who leads the team with 383 yards and 4 touchdowns. Crockett is a little bigger at 225, and has just as many carries as Roundtree. He’s averaging slightly less, only gaining 353 yards, but both backs are over 5 yards per carry.

Badie is a 190 pound speedster that’s more in line with the type of backs we’ve seen from Missouri in the past few years. He has 50 carries, but has only 234 yards to show for it. However, he’s been steadily increasing his production with the same number of opportunities each week, and also leads the RB group with 6 catches for 74 yards.

As I said above, this is an offense built around the arm of Drew Lock. He’s a gunslinger with all the arm talent in the world, but isn’t all that mobile and has a tendency to force throws even when his feet are unsettled. The run game is more suited to busting big plays than grinding drives. It’s the kind of offense that, when it gets into a rhythm of attack, can be lethal. But it’s also the kind of offense that can spiral when things start to falter if Lock is overloaded with too much pass rush.

It will absolutely be a test for an Alabama defense that is looking to prove the haters wrong after giving up 31 points to an anemic Arkansas offense last week while also adjusting to a secondary without the now injured Trevon Diggs.