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Behind Enemy Lines: The Maneater’s Anderson Kimball previews Alabama vs. Missouri

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Photo courtesy of Anderson Kimball

Photo courtesy of Anderson Kimball

Photo courtesy of Anderson Kimball

Ben Stansell, Assistant Sports Editor

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Alabama had its worst defensive game of the season against Arkansas last Saturday, and now it welcomes Drew Lock and the Missouri Tigers. Lock is 24th in the country in passing and set the SEC single-season passing-touchdown record with 44 last season. Ben Stansell caught up with Anderson Kimball, a sports writer for the Missouri student newspaper The Maneater, for an in-depth look at the game

Q: Drew Lock started off well in Missouri’s first three games against non-conference opponents, but has since slowed down. What are the contributing factors behind the Tigers’ struggling passing game?

A: A big factor has been the health of Emanuel Hall. Hall is Lock’s biggest target and helps open up the rest of the field with his presence in the vertical passing game. Another thing for Lock is he’s always struggled against superior opponents. Besides a good first half against Georgia last year he hasn’t really performed against good teams like Georgia or even pretty good teams like South Carolina.

Q: Arkansas caught Alabama’s defense off guard with several tight end screens. Does Missouri have anything in its bag of tricks that could surprise the Crimson Tide?

A: I think so. Albert [Okwuegbunam] and Kendall Blanton will be used a lot in the short pass game and are both really athletic tight ends that will challenge the defense up the seams and in the flat. I also think Tyler Badie will be a factor in the passing game as well. He’s really quick out of the backfield and since Missouri will likely be without Hall, backs and tight ends will be used a lot in the pass game.

Q: Missouri lost a close game to South Carolina last week. Do you think that heartbreaking loss will have any lasting effect?

A: Not really. The team said they have moved past it, but the only thing could be continuing to make bone-headed mistakes. Missouri had special teams errors and huge coverage busts against Georgia and South Carolina that cost them both games and it’s hard to see those going away before this weekend.

Q: If wide receiver Emanuel Hall doesn’t play against Alabama due to injury, how big of a loss would that be for Missouri’s offense?

A: He isn’t expected to play and it would be huge. He stretches the defense and is the only one to be extremely productive minus a couple good games from Johnathan Johnson and Jalen Knox. To compete against good defenses they need him to take the top off the defense to open up slot receivers and ends.

Q: While Missouri’s pass defense has faltered, its run defense has been stout, ranking second in the SEC. Do you expect the Tigers to find success stopping Alabama on the ground?

A: No not at all really. Alabama will be the best team they’ve faced and Tua is miles ahead of the backup quarterback Missouri faced last weekend. I’d be surprised if Tua throws a pass in the latter part of the third quarter. He will be able to do whatever he wants for the most part.

Q: What would it take for Missouri to pull the upset?

A: Divine Intervention. In all seriousness, they will need to magically fix the special teams errors that have plagued them and find a pass defense that has been nonexistent in conference play. If they can use the run game and slow the game down they can have a small chance at a couple turnovers by Alabama and can pray for an interception from Tua. I don’t see any of those things happening.

Q: What is your score prediction, and how did you formulate it?

A: 70-21 Alabama. There is a reason this is Alabama’s homecoming game. Alabama is better than Missouri in every way and has more talent at pretty much every position except for maybe Tight End, Kicker and Punter. So I wouldn’t anticipate this game being close at all.

 

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Behind Enemy Lines: The Maneater’s Anderson Kimball previews Alabama vs. Missouri