Takeaways: Mizzou comes up short despite strong running game

The Tigers’ tackling woes continued against the Gamecocks as Missouri allowed 31 points.

Missouri football lost its last 10 Southeastern Conference games heading into Saturday’s game at South Carolina.

Now, the losing streak sits at 11.

The Tigers lost to the Gamecocks 31-21 to fall to 2-7 on the season. Here are three takeaways from Missouri’s seventh disappointment of the season.

Tackling still troubles Tigers

Missouri’s tackling woes first appeared during the Tigers’ visit to Louisiana State.

Throughout that game, LSU exposed Missouri’s poor tackling form, breaking tackle after tackle to rush for 418 yards. Missouri’s tackling has yet to recover from that beatdown.

The Tigers’ lack of tackling proficiency was apparent once again against the Gamecocks.

Throughout the game, the Missouri defensive backs struggled to tackle their opponent. The Tigers were often caught overcommitting on bubble screens, flying past the South Carolina wide receivers without even touching them.

The Missouri secondary also struggled against the run. When the Gamecock running backs got past the Missouri front line, the Tigers struggled to bring them down.

Return to old scheme helps defensive line

One area that saw improvement for the Tigers was the defensive line.

The line, which has been scrutinized throughout the year for underperforming, is in the process of transitioning back to its old defensive scheme. Coming into this season, Missouri’s defense was supposed to focus on gap integrity and stopping the run. In past years, the defensive line focused on getting up the field and pressuring the quarterback.

The scheme change paid off for the Tigers in the first quarter, when defensive end Charles Harris sacked South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley. Missouri went on to sack the quarterback four times on Saturday.

The line also performed better against the run, only allowing an average of 3.6 yards per carry.

Running backs continue strong performances

Since Missouri’s disappointment against LSU, the Tigers running backs have upped their game. Missouri is averaging 233 yards on the ground per game since Oct. 1.

Saturday’s matchup saw the Tiger running backs break off big gains for touchdowns. Both Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter scored on runs of 29 yards and 25 yards respectively.

When the two weren’t scoring, they were torching the South Carolina defensive line. Crockett averaged 6.3 yards per carry, and Witter averaged 7.3 yards per carry.

Despite their success, the Missouri coaching staff stayed with their air raid game plan. Missouri’s running backs carried the ball just 24 times, while the team ran on 36 of its plays. The Tigers opted for a pass play 40 times on Saturday.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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