Missouri isn’t the most dynamic team in the SEC. In fact, among all the teams Arkansas has played in-conference this year, the Tigers are more like Texas A&M and LSU than Ole Miss or Mississippi State.
That doesn’t mean Mizzou is some guppy, though. Running back Tyler Badie is the SEC’s leading rusher. Eight different Missouri receivers have double-digit catches. Their offensive line doesn’t give up a ton of sacks.
The Tigers are sound and fundamental. Arkansas, on a good day, shouldn’t have massive issues. But if the Hogs want to come as close as they can to guaranteeing a snapping of their five-game losing streak to Missouri, the defense has to keep its head.
No reason why defensive coordinator Barry Odom, the former head man in Columbia, Missouri, won’t be ready.
Here are his side’s keys to the game.
1. Avoid the big play
Oct 9, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back Montaric Brown (21) breaks up a pass intended for Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Jadon Jackson (17) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Big plays may have been the reason Arkansas lost last week to Alabama. Without the game-breakers, the Razorbacks were the better team. If it were to happen against Missouri, however, a close loss wouldn’t be considered a step forward like it was against the Crimson Tide. Just keep the ball in front and the Hogs’ defense will be just fine.
2. Force the issue
FAYETTEVILLE, AR – SEPTEMBER 4: Montaric Brown #21 of the Arkansas Razorbacks intercepts a pass in the second half in front of August Pitre III #88 of the Rice Owls at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Owls 38-17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Yes, that is Montaric Brown in back-to-back pictures. He may be the most important player on Friday. Among quarterbacks who qualify (the number of whom is 16), Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak is third in the SEC in interceptions. Rather, he’s third from the bottom. OK, that isn’t clear either. This is: Connor Bazelak’s 10 interceptions are the third most among SEC quarterbacks.
Mizzou relies on the next man. Forcing Bazelak’s hand could pay dividends for the Arkansas defense.
3. Funnel things to the inside
Oct 23, 2021; Little Rock, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Tre Williams (55) defends during the second quarter against the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Former Missouri defense end Tre Williams has been Arkansas best pass rusher this season. Against the Tigers, though, his spot on the edge may be best used to keep Mizzou running back Tyler Badie held to the interior, where it’s easier for defensive tackle John Ridgeway and the linebackers to wrangle him. Badie, at 5-foot-8 and 194 pounds leads the SEC in yards rushing with 1,385. He excels when he gets to, and takes, the corner.