Scouting the Missouri Tigers


A military plane flies over the stadium for Heroes’ Day before the game against Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 38-17. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Kentucky enters the third game of their three-game stretch between bye weeks aiming to get back to .500.  To do that, it will need to knock off a Missouri team that last week suffered its first loss since the season opener. 364 days prior to Saturday, the Cats pulled off a miracle comeback in Columbia, scoring two touchdowns in the final 5:17 to win 15-14 over the Tigers, who will almost certainly look to exact a measure of revenge. Here’s what you need to know about Mizzou: 

Head Coach

Barry Odom is in his fourth season leading Missouri and has compiled a 24-21 record in that time. He suited up at linebacker for the Tigers from 1996-1999, and was involved with the program as a coach and administrator from 2003-2011 before becoming head coach in 2015. The Tigers head coaching job is his first at the college level. 


Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant faced the task of replacing Drew Lock – a 2019 second-round pick of the Denver Broncos – and has been efficient, recording over 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He also makes an impact on the ground, with more than 10 carries per game. 

Junior running back Larry Rountree III is the main asset in the running game, racking up 586 yards and eight touchdowns on 115 carries. When he needs spelled, Tyler Badie is most likely to step into the fold. He’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has scored twice. Badie might also see the field in most passing situations. He’s second on the team with 20 catches, and has two touchdowns through the air as well. 

The Tigers have two major big play threats in receivers Jonathan Nance and Kam Scott. Both average more than 17 yards per reception – Nance at 17.8, Scott at a whopping 21.7. Combined with the mobility of Kelly Bryant, it forces defenses to be wary of longer plays, time wise. 

“He extends a play, a guy with speed is able to break away from coverage,” UK defensive coordinator Brad White told reporters earlier in the week. “Then you’ve got speed in space, and that’s always a bad combination.” 

Receiver Johnathon Johnson and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam are also big factors in the passing game. Johnson isn’t the same big-play threat as Scott and Nance – just 10.1 yards per reception – but leads the team in catches and is the possession receiver that every team needs. 

At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Okwuegbunam is an ideal red-zone target, and being on the receiving end of nearly 50 percent of Bryant’s passing touchdowns (6 of 13) shows just how much he is utilized when the Tigers get in close. 


The Missouri defense is one of the best in the country, ranking sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 26thin rushing yards per game in the FBS. It has 32 passes defended, paced by safety Joshuah Bledsoe with seven. 

Linebacker Nick Bolton has the most tackles on the team, with 61. The Tigers are missing an important factor in Cale Garrett, a star middle linebacker is expected to miss the rest of the season after heaving surgery to repair a pectoral injury. 

One area the defense struggles is with a pass rush, recording only 13 sacks. Defensive lineman Kobie Whiteside has been the lone bright spot in that area with four; nobody else has more than two. 

Kickoff between Missouri and Kentucky at Kroger Field is set for 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on SEC Network and the ESPN app.