COLUMBIA — It's one month into the 2013 college football season, and buzz has already started to pick up on how Missouri will fare against the rest of its Southeastern Conference opponents.
The Tigers, at 3-0, are one of four remaining unbeaten SEC teams. The team has also averaged 567 total yards of offense per game along with 47 points per game — a respectable stat, albeit against mostly weaker competition.
But as one SEC blogger, Brad Crawford, points out, the Tigers will need to see more pressure out of the defense if they expect to win this season.
"Mizzou's deserving of a Top 25 ranking at 5-0 if the Tigers beat Vanderbilt on Oct. 5, but until then, keep the cooler talk to a minimum," Crawford writes.
Greg Ostendorf of ESPN, however, writes, "The Tigers aren't likely to compete in the SEC East, but this team looks like a bowl team."
Missouri, after beating Indiana last week 45-28, will take on its final nonconference opponent at home against Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Tigers have also moved up two spots to No. 8 in ESPN's Week 4 SEC Power Rankings.
Missouri probably had its most dominant performances last week against the Hoosiers, especially from the defense.
The Tigers' defense forced three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Kony Ealy. Ealy's interception return earned him SEC defensive lineman of the week honors — the second time a Tiger defensive lineman has won the award this season (Markus Golden won after his interception returned for a touchdown against Toledo in Week 2).
Thanks Mizzou nation for the congrats on the SEC player of the week award time to check out next opponents— kony montoy ealy (@EalyKony) September 23, 2013
Footage of Ealy's interception return can be seen in the video below.
(Video: Mizzou Network)
Missouri also expects to have Max Copeland back in the offensive lineup this week after having to sit out against Indiana because of a sprained left ankle, Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star reports.
Perhaps the most notable takeaway from Missouri's win against Indiana was the Tigers' new defensive scheme. Missouri replaced a defensive lineman with an extra linebacker at the beginning of the second half, resulting in what appeared to be a 3-3-5 defensive scheme. But as Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel doesn't want to call it a 3-3-5.
Missouri players Duron Singleton (2) and Connor McGovern, (60) tackle Indiana quarterback Nate Boudreau (9) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. (PHOTO: JOSHUA BOUCHER/Missourian)
The change seemed to work out for Missouri, one blogger at SB Nation writes, as Indiana was only able to pick up 200 yards in the second half, with almost half of those yards coming off of two plays.
The Red Wolves
Arkansas State has already faced one SEC opponent this year — a 38-9 loss to Auburn in Week 2.
Among current SEC teams Arkansas St has beaten 2 in 58 tries - when Woodrow Wilson was president & when Mike Sherman was opposing head coach— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) September 25, 2013
Arkansas State is also on its third coach since 2011. But as Matter writes, that isn't because of poor winning records; it's because the two previous coaches earned 10-3 records before moving on to Ole Miss and Auburn.
Arkansas State quarterback Adam Kennedy is stopped by Auburn defensive tackle Ben Bradley in the first half Sept. 7. (PHOTO: JAY SAILORS/The Associated Press)
Also in Matter's preview of this week's game, he writes that Arkansas State running back David Oku is one player to keep an eye on, along with the offense's ability to create explosive plays. The team tanks 16th in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 24 20-yard plays from scrimmage and seven plays of 40 or more.
However, Missouri's offense has also shown its explosiveness at times, including a 45-yard run from Russell Hansbrough last week against Indiana. If Auburn's highlights below against the Red Wolves are any indication of the big-play potential against Arkansas State, expect to see some long-yardage plays Saturday.
Also of note this week, head coach Gary Pinkel needs just one more win to pass Dan Devine on the school's all-time wins list. A victory will put Pinkel at 94, second to Don Faurot (101).
"Just to have your name thrown up there with them (Devine, Faurot) is a tremendous honor." Pinkel tied Devine for second on all-time wins list.— Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) September 23, 2013
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.