For the first time since 2014, Texas is in a bowl game. The Longhorns will travel to Houston to take on Missouri in the Texas Bowl. After starting the season 1-5, the Tigers reeled off 6 straight wins. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Missouri offense:
Similar to nearly every Big 12 game, the Longhorns will be facing one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Drew Lock set the SEC record for passing touchdowns in a season with 43 in 2017. The junior is the real deal, displaying exceptional arm strength and touch on the deep ball. Lock has thrown for 3,695 yards through 12 games with only 12 interceptions. He stands 6’4 and shows the ability to escape the pocket when he needs to.
Lock flourished under the up-tempo system orchestrated by the Tigers second year offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel. Fortunately for Texas, Heupel will not be coaching the Texas Bowl after taking the head coaching job at Central Florida. The offensive system run the Tigers should not suffer a drop off though, as Lock is very familiar with the system. The Tigers love the screen game and the deep ball. The offense knows two speeds: fast and faster. This is not going to be a game where the Tigers will try to win time of possession. Missouri will take deep shots whenever they get the chance and test their receivers against a shaky Texas secondary.
The running game will be shouldered by two capable backs in Ish Witter and Larry Roundtree III. Witter leads the Tigers in carries (171) and yards (992), while also adding 5 touchdowns. Roundtree has added 629 yards and 6 touchdowns. Roundtree stands slightly bigger than Witter, netting him more goal-line and short yardage work.
The Tigers also have a third running back that figures to factor into the rushing attack on some level. Sophomore Damarea Crockett only played in the first 6 games of the year before suffering a shoulder injury, but flashed often when he was on the field. Crockett rushed for 202 yards in the season opener against Missouri State. It is not known how big of a role Crockett will have against Texas, but the Longhorns should be prepared to stop 3 talented running backs.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Drew Locke’s favorite target is senior J’Mon Moore. Moore has finished the season with 1017 receiving yards, giving him back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Standing at 6’3, he is a weapon that will be utilized all over the field. His 10 touchdowns and average of 17 yards per reception fall right in line with how the Tigers operate on offense.
Moore leads the team in catches and yards, but the most dangerous receiver Missouri will deploy may be junior Emmanuel Hall. Hall is averaging a whopping 24.8 yards per reception, hauling in 33 passes for 817 yards and 8 touchdowns.
6’5 redshirt freshman Albert Okwuegbunam is a true difference maker at the tight end position. Okwuegbunam has a ridiculous 10 touchdowns on the year and is the true definition on a mismatch in the red zone.
This is not the ideal game for Texas to be trying new faces at new positions in the secondary. Brandon Jones and PJ Locke will be tested just as much as Kris Boyd and Devante Davis. Texas did a good much of keeping receivers in front of them against Oklahoma State, a team who also loved to stretch the field with the deep ball. The Longhorns will have to have a similar type of defensive performance against Missouri.
The Tigers boast an offensive line that has only allowed 12 sacks the whole season (compared to a Texas offensive line that had allowed 32 sacks). Guards Kevin Pendleton and Tre’vour Simms have both started 20+ games and do a good job of opening up holes in the run game. The amount of sacks surrendered is telling given how the Missouri offense operates. There is not much time to get in the face of Locke before the ball is out of his hand.
Texas will be without Chris Nelson in this game, so they will need big games from Malcolm Roach and Breckyn Hager if they hope to get pressure on Locke.
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