The matchup to look out for here is Missouri’s passing game versus the young Alabama football secondary. Drinkwitz is probably going to look to stretch the field early versus Alabama. To give his team the best chance of being competitive he needs to attack Alabama’s secondary early and often.
The problem with this strategy is he will be breaking in a new QB. The former Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant graduated and has moved on which left Missouri in a 4-way battle for QB. It has now come down to a 3-way battle as redshirt junior Taylor Powell announced his intention to transfer from the program. It may not matter much though because as Ronald Evans put it in his breakdown of the Mizzou QB battle, the winner of that battle may come to regret it.
Even though it is their best shot, there are two main reasons the downfield attacking strategy won’t work for the Tigers.
First, Missouri is not only breaking in a new QB. They will also be breaking in almost an entirely new starting O-Line to protect him. They are replacing three starters from a unit that was underwhelming in 2019. The unit has also been ravaged by Covid-19. Drinkwitz said at one point:
"It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve had five starting left guards in the last five days. You can say ‘next man up’ mentality, and that’s what it is … Like I told our team, nobody really cares about the excuse. They just expect the performance. Whether it’s the fifth left guard or the first left guard, (fans) are going to expect that the performance meets their expectations. But it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with the amount of people."
That doesn’t bode well for whoever lines up under center.
Second, the strength of Alabama’s defense in 2020 will be the front seven, assuming everyone stays healthy. The impact of a returning Dylan Moses cannot be understated. He is a man on a mission and will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. The defensive line is extremely talented and this year they have the depth as well. D-Line depth has been an issue in recent years, but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2020. The one thing that can help out a young inexperienced secondary is a strong pass-rush. Alabama should do well in that category in 2020.
This is not to say that Alabama’s secondary is going to be bad in 2020. The Tide still has All-American candidate and probable future first-round pick, Patrick Surtain II, leading the unit. However, the rest of the unit lacks experience and could suffer from mental errors early in the season.
Add on top of all of this the fact that Alabama football has several young defensive players ready to step in and make an impact early, and you have a recipe for a disaster if you are the Missouri offense.