Central Florida was content to play a methodical and deliberate style of offense last weekend against Missouri.
For nearly three quarters, it worked, allowing the Knights to control the clock and keep the Tigers’ offense off the field.
It kept the game close, too.
No. 18 Missouri, 3-0, led only 14-10 until late in the third quarter when a barrage of turnovers paved the way to a 38-10 victory.
The Tigers needn’t worry about that against Indiana, which comes to Memorial Stadium for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday on the SEC Network.
The Hoosiers, 1-1, prefer a much more up-tempo style.
“We’ll be OK with that, because we see fast pace all the time,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel isn’t worried either.
“Personally, I think this is the norm for our guys,” Steckel said. “I really do. … We practice against it every day, so it’s been a godsend that our offense is a fast-paced offense.”
Missouri handled Indiana’s breakneck pace relatively well last season. The Hoosiers rolled up 475 yards on 79 offensive snaps, but the Tigers allowed only 98 yards rushing.
Of course, against Auburn’s up-tempo style in the SEC Championship Game, things went off the tracks and Missouri never recovered.
“We have to be more organized,” Steckel said when asked how to defend fast-paced offenses. “You have to have a certain strategy that goes about it. We’ve developed a wristband method, so we communicate faster and we’re always preaching to our kids to communicate. With the noise and the pace, kids have got to be really focused and wired in on their communication.”
That will be especially true against Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with an average of 218.5 rushing yards per game.
Indiana at No. 18 Missouri
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Columbia
TV: SEC Network
Other story lines
▪ THE QUEST FOR 48: Eventually, Missouri’s going to have a game without creating a turnover. It just hasn’t happened in nearly four years. The Tigers, who rank second in the SEC in turnover margin at plus-six this season, hope it won’t be Saturday against Indiana. Missouri owns the nation’s longest streak of consecutive games with a turnover at 47.
▪ STREAKING MAUK: Missouri sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk has an impressive streak of his own going. Mauk has thrown at least three touchdown passes in five consecutive starts, three against Tennessee and five at Kentucky last season. Mauk, by the way, is the nation’s third-highest-rated passer in the nation in the fourth quarter.
▪ TACKLING MACHINE: Missouri sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer ranked second in the SEC with 28 tackles entering the week. He has recorded at least nine tackles in each game this season and will likely get a heavy dose of action against Indiana’s Tevin Coleman.