Missouri will look to build off of its dominating performance over South Dakota as it hosts Middle Tennessee State (MTSU) on Saturday. The Tigers haven’t won their first two games of the season since 2018. That was when they won 40-13 over Wyoming. Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz and his team will look to change that as they welcome the Blue Raiders.
Photo Cred: YouTube- Under the Arch Sports
The two programs have faced off twice in the past and split the series so far. MTSU won the last matchup in 2016 with a 51-45 victory in Columbia. Former Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Brockstill, who is now MTSU’s QB coach, had a stellar performance with 280 yards and four touchdowns. Drew Lock, who now plays for the Seahawks, put up 281 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers.
Photo Cred: ESPN
Missouri came out victorious in its first matchup with Middle Tennessee State in an overtime shootout in 2003. QB Brad Smith ran for a three-yard touchdown to lift the Tigers to victory and survive the Blue Raiders’ upset bid.
What to Look Out For: MTSU
The Blue Raiders are looking for their first win of the season after getting blown out by No. 4 Alabama 56-7 last Saturday. Head coach Rick Stockstill’s team was never in the game as they trailed 14-0 after the first quarter and the deficit kept widening from there.
Photo Creds: L- YouTube- Alabama Football Report, R- The Tuscaloosa News (Vattiato)
Their offense is led by redshirt sophomore QB Nicholas Vattiato. He finished with 127 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in his 2023 debut against the Crimson Tide. Freshman running back Jekail Middlebrook led MTSU in rushing yards in his first college game. He ran for 32 yards on eight carries and aims to build off of that against Missouri.
The Tigers’ defense will need to watch out for the Blue Raiders’ receiving core. The duo of wide receivers DJ England-Chisolm and sophomore WR Bryce Bailey flashed signs of being dangerous against the Crimson Tide. England-Chisolm caught three passes for 16 yards, and Bailey caught two passes for 10 yards. This included him scoring the lone touchdown for MTSU.
Photo Cred: ESPN (Bailey) Photo Cred: Facebook- Blue Raider Football (Ross)
Missouri’s offense will be facing off against a talented MTSU defense on Saturday. Cornerback Teldrick Ross and safety Tra Fluellen were both named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list before the season. Ross recorded five tackles in the Blue Raiders’ season-opener against Alabama. Fluellen put up four tackles.
Safety Jokobe Thomas and linebacker Jonathan Butler have been the leading tacklers so far for Middle Tennessee State. Thomas recorded eight total tackles against the Crimson Tide, and Butler finished with three. Junior defensive tackle Marley Cook is also a name to watch out for as he was named to the preseason Lombardi Award watch list.
Photo Cred: The Tuscaloosa News
What to Follow: Missouri
After playing both QBs each half against South Dakota, Drinkwitz named junior Brady Cook to be the starter moving forward. He finished with 172 yards and a touchdown last game. Sophomore QB Sam Horn will still be involved and see time on the field despite Cook being QB1.
Photo Cred: YouTube Photo Cred: KSDK (Schrader)
Senior running back Cody Schrader also got off to an impressive start to the year. He rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 35-10 victory over South Dakota. One thing to keep an eye on is that the senior is 48 yards away from reaching 2,000 career rushing yards. It also includes his time back with Truman State.
The WR duo of Luther Burden III and Mehki Miller got off to a strong start to the season last Thursday. Burden recorded 96 yards and a touchdown in Missouri’s season-opener. Miller caught a touchdown pass and finished with 49 yards.
Photo Creds: L- YouTube- Devy to Dynasty Football, R- Rock M Nation (#15 Walker Jr.)
Defensively, defensive linemen Johnny Walker Jr. and Josh Landry have been leading the way so far after one game. Walker put up six total tackles (four solo) and Landry recorded five total tackles (four solo). Defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is also off to a good start as he finished the Tigers’ first game with five total tackles (two solo).
DBs Kris Abrams-Draine, Marvin Burks Jr., and Joseph Charleston are each coming into Saturday’s matchup with four total tackles. LBs Chuck Hicks and Ty’Ron Hopper also had four tackles in Missouri’s win over South Dakota.
Photo Cred: Yahoo Sports
Missouri is scheduled to host MTSU at 6 P.M. Saturday at Faurot Field on SEC Network+.