Alabama vs. Missouri: What Tigers Must Do to Upset Mighty Crimson Tide
Alabama and Missouri are two teams that are heading in two completely different directions.
The Crimson Tide are currently undefeated, the No. 1 team in the country and have repeating as national champions on their mind. The Tigers are a squad that has lost three of their first six games, has been battling injuries all year and is still searching for its first SEC win as conference members.
Everything is pointing to an Alabama victory, as the talent level isn't fair and head coach Nick Saban has had an extra week to prepare for this matchup. But with many upsets already taking place during the 2012 college football season, you can never guarantee a victory, especially when traveling on the road to a hostile environment.
Besides praying, collecting four-leaf clovers and hoping a ladybug lands on them, here are three things the Tigers must do in order to pull off an upset over Alabama this weekend.
Keep the Quarterback Upright
The Tigers are already missing starting quarterback James Franklin, as he will not play in the SEC matchup due to a knee injury. But with the way Missouri has been letting defenders blow right by them, I'm sure the junior quarterback may not be so upset about taking this week off.
The offensive line has allowed 14 sacks in the first six games, as the undersized unit simply isn't good enough to block SEC defenders that are bigger and more athletic than they are. The bad news is that they will be going up against an Alabama defensive front that has racked up eight sacks in the last two games.
To make matters even worse, due to injuries, Missouri will have its fifth different offensive line combination of the season, according to Ryan Hood of Themaneater.com.
Freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser will be the starter this weekend. The same quarterback that couldn't find his rhythm last week and only completed 30 percent of his passes in the loss to Vanderbilt.
There must be protection up front if the Tigers expect to have any chance in this contest. Whether that means putting a couple of running backs in the backfield, an extra tight end, or 15 guys on the field, protecting the quarterback is a must.
Win the Turnover Battle
What percentage would you say Missouri has in winning this game?
When you are a gigantic underdog, turning the ball over removes that 1.5 percent chance you did have at winning the game. Ball security is one of the first things you are taught at a young age and is a very elementary part of the game of football.
Don't give away the football to the other team!
Missouri has actually done a good job of forcing turnovers, as there have been 14 takeaways in the first six games. The problem is that there have also been seven turnovers on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers and Alabama leads the SEC with 15 game-changing plays.
Missouri has turned the ball over at least once in five of the first six games of the season. If this game is going to be close, the Tigers must make ball security the No. 1 priority on offense and find a way to jar the ball loose on defense.
Generate Pressure Up Front
This may be the most difficult part, but putting pressure on quarterback A.J. McCarron is a must. You simply can't let the junior quarterback scan the field and have all day in the pocket. He has yet to throw an interception this season and has completed over 65 percent of his passes in three of the first five games.
The Tigers must make him uncomfortable and force him to get rid of the ball a little sooner than he would like.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is probably the only player on the defensive front for Missouri that can match the size and athleticism of the Alabama offensive line. But even he knows it is going to be a tall order to break down this football team, according to Don Kausler Jr. of al.com.
They’re a game-managing team. Richardson said. They don’t make many mistakes on offense. … Their defense makes plays and scores touchdowns for them, too. They’re a great team. Special teams make plays, too.
The Crimson Tide offense is third in the country with only three turnovers. In the SEC, it all starts up front and what you are able to do when trying to get to the quarterback. If The Tigers are able to get to McCarron and rattle his cage a bit, Missouri may actually have a slight chance to win its first SEC game.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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