The [Citrus Bowl is] tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be [football]
Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Clears away the [bad bowls] and the [Terrapins]
Til there's none
The [Citrus Bowl is] tomorrow
So you gotta hang on til tomorrow
Come what may
I love you tomorrow
You're [only] a daaaaaaaaaaaay awaaaaayyy
Citrus Bowl Preview Q&As
Rock M Nation Q&A Part 1
Part 1 in a series of, oh I don't know, maybe, 2 or 3 Question & Answer sessions with Jack Peglow from fellow SBNation blog Rock M Nation.
Citrus Bowl Preview Q&As
JDMill: On Monday I read this quote : "Minnesota is generally viewed as a better-than-average team in the worst Power 5 conference. Which fits nicely alongside an opponent like Missouri, the most successful program in the SEC division that doesn't matter" and I was kind of pissed off for both the Gophers and Missouri. Things like this are cyclical and I just think it's a tired narrative. In any case, I'm curious about Missouri fans. How do you perceive the Gophers as an opponent in a New Year's Day bowl game?
Jack Peglow: The matchup *is* somewhat irregular. A New Year's Day bowl featuring the Tigers and the Gophers isn't exactly a matchup of titans. That said, both teams are in much better places than the national hive-mind would like to place them. It's simply too hard to do research on a program's progress, so we're presented with the same, recycled phrases ad nauseam. "Minnesota is just okay, because B1G." I mean, sure. That's a statement you can make. Or, instead, you can take a look at they body of work and see that the Gophers are well-aware of their strengths, and they do a damn good job of capitalizing on them.
Personally, I was ecstatic when I saw that Mizzou would be playing Minnesota, and not only because I was born in Edina. I am a Missouri fan, but I'm also a fan of entertaining football being played between two good teams, and that's what we should have on our hands this Thursday. Regardless of what the pundits think, Minnesota is a solid team and a program on the rise. There aren't many opponents that would be in a better place than the Gophers.
JD: The Gophers rush for just shy of 225 yards/game, but Missouri has an exceptional defensive line and gives up just 135 yards/game. What makes this Missouri run defense so good and do you think they can slow down David Cobb and the Gopher run game?
JP: The reason for the Missouri defense's success begins and ends with the front seven. The linemen are some of the best in the nation - and I'm not just talking about Markus Golden and Shane Ray - and they do a fantastic job of turning outside runs inside to the interior linemen and linebackers. Michael Scherer and Kentrell Brothers are tackling machines; you won't see them missing many tackles, even when it's Cobb toting the rock.
What gives me the most confidence, though, isn't Missouri's defense, per say. It has more to do with the kind of runner that Cobb is. He's a tough, hard-nosed back that will rack up the yardage, but not all at once. He'll get three yards here, five yards there, and bust out the occasional 11-yard jaunt. Mizzou is well-equipped to handle that. Where the Tigers have had trouble is when they're up against a ball-carrier that has big-play potential. Tevin Coleman and Nick Chubb were both able to tally long runs against the Missouri defense, and those gains played large roles in the losses that the Tigers suffered. Cobb, though a very talented runner, doesn't quite have that breakout ability.
JD: Maty Mauk scares the life out of me. Gopher fans get night sweats thinking about what scrambling QB's have been able to do to us. But Mauk can be inconsistent and had a rough stretch of games mid-season for the Tigers. How much of Missouri's offensive success rests on his shoulders?
JP: It depends on the day. If the running game is rolling, Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson has shown that he isn't afraid to take the air out of the ball and keep the offense grounded. Against a Gopher defense that has been weaker against the run than the pass, it would not surprise me terribly if we see that scenario play out. Luckily for Minnesota - or unluckily, depending upon his play - Maty will still be called upon to work with a receiving corps missing its second-most productive contributor. Jimmie Hunt, fresh off a 169-yard performance against Alabama, was forced to end to his football career a game early thanks to a shoulder injury. Losing your No. 2 receiver is detrimental to any offense [Editor's Note: What's a No. 2 receiver?] , but it's especially harmful for Missouri because Mauk's worst games have come when he was playing without a full stable of pass-catchers. The missing pieces really seemed to throw him out of whack, which is probably music to Gopher fans' ears. Sure, he still has the ability to extend plays and find receivers making the best of a gassed cornerback, and sure, he still has his go-to-guy in Bud Sasser, but at this point I'm probably more worried about his play that y'all are.
JD: Finally... prediction time! Who wins? How do they make it happen? What is the final score?
JP: I said it would be something like 21-14 Missouri on our podcast, and I'll stick to that. This is a game that I think will remain close for most of its duration, but I think Missouri's - and not Minnesota's - running game will end up being the difference. I envision the one-two punch of Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy eventually wearing down the Gopher run defense, keeping Mizzou's offense on the field long enough for the defense to stay fresh. That slight difference will end up being the difference as Mizzou pulls away late.
A huge thank you to Jack for putting up with my questions and nagging to get him to answer them, especially considering the adversity he's been dealing with lately (the holidays and family members that try to get him to drink alcohol). I've enjoyed getting to know Jack and I hope that I he goes to bed horribly disappointed on Thursday night.