X-Factor of the Week- Mizzou Edition


Every week there will be one player or coach who will be considered the x-factor.  The x-factor is player/coach who will really need to perform well that week, in order for the Dawgs to come away with a win.  Essentially the x-factor is the make-or-break position on the field for that week.

This week the Bulldogs (6-2, 2-2) take on the Missouri Tigers (4-4, 1-4) at Faurot Field at 8:00 on ESPN Thursday night.  The Bulldogs are riding a 3 game winning streak, while the Tigers are doing just the opposite, losing their last 3.  Matty Mauk was suspended for the last 4 games, and appeared to be ready to play again against the Bulldogs.  Gary Pinkel announced this week that would not be the case.  Instead Mauk has been suspended for the rest of the season.  Drew Lock has been forced to step up in his absence.  During Lock’s tenure as starting quarterback, the Tigers have struggled to say the least.  The offense has not scored a touchdown since Lock’s first start against South Carolina on October 3rd.  Lock’s stats the last three games are as follows:

South Carolina: 21-28, 136 yards, 2 touchdowns, and sacked 2 times

Florida: 16-39, 151 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and sacked 3 times

@ Georgia: 11-26, 143 yards, 0 touchdowns, and sacked 4 times

@ Vanderbilt: 14-34, 108 yards, 0 touchdowns, and sacked 4 times

There are several things that come up when looking at his stats.  First of all, Lock does not complete a high percentage of passes.  Second of all, the passes that he does complete are short passes.  The yards per completion are not very high, meaning they run a lot of screens and short slants.  Finally, Lock cannot get comfortable in the pocket, as he has been sacked 13 times in the last 4 games, including 8 times in the last 2 games.  It is no secret that the Mizzou offense has struggled to say the least since Lock was handed the keys to the offense.  So after looking at the passing stats, one would think that the rushing stats make up for the poor passing attack.  That is not the case as the Tigers average 100.5 yards per game this season, and the leading rusher, Ish Witter, averages 42.75 yards per game and has 1 touchdown on the season.

With the Missouri offense struggling the way it is as of late, the high potent Bulldog offense will not need to have a huge game in order to come away with a win.  However, the Tigers are desperate for anything to go their way right now.  You do not want to give a desperate team any reason to start believing again.  Therefore, the x-factor of the week is none other than Dak Prescott.  Usually when writing these articles, I try to stay away from Prescott, because obviously Dak has to play well to win most of our games.  Well it is especially important on Thursday night.  Prescott and Co. have to come in and put up points early to set the tone for the rest of the game.  They cannot give Mizzou any reason to believe that they can upset the Bulldogs.  If they come out and put up 10 to 14 points in the first quarter, then the Tigers will more than likely shut down.  Everyone on that Missouri offense is well aware that they haven’t scored a touchdown since October 3rd.  So if they see Mississippi State put up a lot of points early, then they will likely shut down at that point.

Mississippi State is getting hot at the right time as the calendar turns to November.  Dak is coming off one of the best games of his career with 6 total touchdowns against Kentucky.  I do not foresee the Bulldogs having a problem handling the Tigers.  However, no SEC road game is as easy as it seems.  The Tigers boast a good defense that has been able to keep them in ball games as of late.  To add to that, rain is in the forecast for Thursday night in Columbia.  So the Bulldogs may be forced to run the ball more than they would like.  The Dawgs have struggled to find a run game this season, so this could be seen as a problem by many.  However, unless there is a torrential down pour, I believe Prescott will continue to throw the ball.  So lets hope that Mother Nature can help out the Dawgs tonight.

Look for the high potent Bulldog offense to really make some noise in the first quarter to set the tone for the rest of the game.  Dak Prescott will be called upon, just like every other game, to have a big game, and take another SEC road win back to Starkville.