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Missouri's keys to the game

Monday, December 31, 2007 | 5:56 p.m. CST; updated 10:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

1. Don’t get run over: Arkansas running back Darren McFadden is pretty good. His consecutive second place finishes in the Heisman Trophy competition and his 1725 yards rushing in 2007 attest to that. The other Razorback running back Felix Jones averages 9.1 yards per rush. Missouri’s run defense is the 26th-best in the country, allowing 119 yards a game. That being said, the run defense will need to save its best run stuffing effort for last.

2. Red zone returns: The Tigers are eighth in the NCAA in red zone conversion percentage with just over 90 percent. Against a team that can run the ball as well as the Arkansas Razorbacks, field goals won’t cut it if the Arkansas gets ahead and just runs the clock out. MU settled for field goals against OU but if they get to the red zone, touchdowns have to come.

3. Exploit the man coverage: Arkansas defender Martell Richardson said his team intends to go man-to-man with the Tiger receivers. The last pass defense that decided to throw man coverage to Chase Daniel and the Tiger receivers, Colorado, gave up 55 points and 421 passing yards to Daniel. Dave Christensen and the Tiger offense needs to exploit this early and often.

4. Expose the middle: The middle portion of the OU defense was not exploited nearly enough in the Big 12 Championship Game. This may have had something to do with injuries to Danario Alexander and Chase Coffman, the Tigers two big receivers in the middle of the field. Alexander is out for the season but Coffman should be at 100 percent according to coach Gary Pinkel. Look for Coffman to be called upon a lot for catches over the middle of the Razorback defense.

5. Turn Temple Loose: In all the commotion about Daniel and Mc Fadden and the power of the Arkansas running attack, MU running back Tony Temple has kind of been lost in the shuffle. Temple’s finest performance as a Tiger came in last year’s Sun Bowl gaining 194 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State. Arkansas defenders have admitted they are preparing mostly for the pass and not too worried about the ground game. Christensen and his offensive staff should take that as a sign to get Temple the ball.

— compiled by Josh Mosley


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