MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Two high-powered offenses will see who can be more efficient against defenses that have struggled at points this season in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Oklahoma State’s offensive unit is led by fifth-year senior Taylor Cornelius, who has several key weapons in Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace.
So far this season, Cornelius has passed for 3,642 yards and 28 touchdowns with his favorite target being wide receiver Tylan Wallace. When he isn’t passing, he is often handing the ball off to running backs Justice Hill and Chuba Hubbard, who stepped in for the Cowboys after Hill suffered an injury.
The Tigers won’t have to worry about Hill after he announced that he will not play in the bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. However, they will still have to find a way to stop Tylan Wallace, who has caught defensive players’ attention.
“From watching film, those guys are a lot of deep threats. You can’t sleep on those guys. We see how they attacked the field, down the field against Texas. They have a Biletnikoff finalist over there – I believe his name is [Tylan] Wallace. They look pretty good. You can’t slack off any. Those guys are a threat to us,” said Demarkus Acy, Missouri defensive back.
Wallace has recorded 1.408 receiving yards this season and is responsible for 11 Cowboy touchdowns.
While Wallace is known for big plays, Missouri coaches say they’re not overlooking other members of OSU’s offensive unit.
“In terms of personnel, the SEC has kind of evolved into a more personnel-dominant league. Everybody looks at their output in terms of their passing yards and things like that. They’re pretty balanced in terms of running the ball and throwing, so our guys have to be dialed in to what’s going on. Those RPOs are a challenge. The reason a lot of people are doing that is because it puts you in difficult situations. Our eyes have to be right and we can’t allow the tempo, the speed of it and the misdirection. Get our eyes in the wrong spot and have us get undisciplined when things are going fast,” said Missouri Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters.
“They’re better than pretty good. They’re really, really, really good. Every year, I feel like Oklahoma State has had one or two or three guys that are so explosive. Credit that to Coach Gundy and the way he has recruited and also, how they plan offensively, the way that they’ve developed their system and the way its run. It’s at a high level. We’ve got to defend every inch of the field – the vertical passing game, but also the quarterback run game. They stretch in a lot of ways that cause concern,” said Missouri head coach Barry Odom.
Although the Pokes aren’t ranked in the top 25, they are ranked 10th in total offense in the NCAA while averaging over six yards per play and 500 yards per game.
When asked about strategy, Missouri Offensive Coordinator Derek Dooley says the Tigers’ defense is going to have to be patient and disciplined while going up against an offense like Oklahoma State’s.
“They have great technique, good fundamentals, sound. They’re a really disciplined team when they get on the field, so we have to try and break them down a little bit. You can tell they’re a good team,” said Terry Beckner, Jr., Missouri defensive lineman.
Missouri linebacker Terez Hall says although they haven’t seen an offense quite like OSU’s, they aren’t preparing any differently for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
“Football doesn’t change. I don’t care who you play. You can’t change preparation because of the team. That’s putting them on a pedestal and we can’t do that. We’re going to play the same way we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks. They’re a good team and all but we’ve been winning the same way regardless of the team we’ve been playing. It really doesn’t make a difference,” said Hall.