What Missouri Players and Coaches Had to Say About Facing Ohio State Ahead of the Cotton Bowl

By Garrick Hodge on December 28, 2023 at 10:10 am
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We're one day away from the Cotton Bowl.

There's been no shortage of buildup for the top-10 matchup between Missouri and Ohio State since the pair of teams arrived in Dallas before Christmas, with each team being complimentary of the other throughout the week. 

Missouri will arguably be playing in its biggest game since the 2014 SEC Championship, so there will be no shortage of motivation for the Tigers to win the New Year's Six matchup. Over the past few days, we've rounded up what Ohio State's offensive and defensive coaches and players had to say ahead of their matchup with the Tigers. 

Additionally, we compiled several quotes below about what Missouri offensive and defensive players think about Ohio State, Devin Brown and more.

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker

  • How he scouted Devin Brown ahead of him making his first career start: "We mostly looked at what he has done this year. I think he had 76 snaps or something on the season. And then you blend that with what they already do and maybe some things differently they may do based off of his skill set. No, I didn't go back and check out his Hudl highlight tape."
  • On defending Emeka Egbuka: "He's a great player. They remind me, honestly, of some of the best offenses we've played this year when you look at the LSU's and the Georgias' of the world. There's really no weakness. He's just another piece of their puzzle. When you look at the receiving corps as a whole, it's probably one of the best, if not the best, in the entire country. So they all present different problems. The way they move him around and the way they move (Xavier Johnson) around, they definitely present issues." 
  • On trying to get Ohio State off balance: "I think the biggest thing, first and foremost, is stop the run. I think (TreVeyon Henderson) is as good a back as I have seen on tape all year. He's powerful, he's fast, he's dynamic out of the backfield. They will split him out and empty and get a mismatch. I think it starts and stops with him, to be honest with you. And then again, with the receivers, they're all — the unique thing about the receiving corps is they're all very, very unique. And what I mean by that, they have got great length at one receiver. They have got great speed at another receiver. They have got great wiggle with a third receiver. So it's a matchup nightmare, it really is. They're extremely explosive. They're a very well-coached offense." 
  • On how he's handling the uncertainty of Ohio State's offensive scheme with Kyle McCord and Julian Fleming having transferred: "It's about us. And every week that's what we talk about, a nameless, faceless opponent. And at the end of the day, whoever goes on the field is who we have to defend. So, I think our guys are excited about the challenge. Again, when you look at how much talent they have on offense, I think our guys are — it perked their antennas up a little bit when they watched the tape and see how talented they are.

    Again, regardless of who comes out on the field Friday night, our guys will be ready to go."

Offensive coordinator Kirby Moore

  • On what stands out about Ohio State's defense: "It starts with personnel. They got some pretty good players right up front, linebackers. (Jack Sawyer) does a great job in terms of play recognition.

    Secondary, you look at the point totals, I think it's seven or eight of the games under 12 points. So give them credit for that. There's a variety of defenses. Coach [Jim] Knowles does a really good job. But at the same time, with that variety of defense, they are really sound. And so that's really good coaching and teaching. Their guys are out there executing really, really well."  

Wide receiver Luther Burden

  • On Ohio State being expected to be close to full strength on defense: "I'm super excited. I want the best of the best. I don't want no excuses."

Offensive lineman Javon Foster 

  • On what stands out to him about Ohio State's defense: "They're a great defense. Got great linebackers. The box is really great. I can't really say that much bad about them. It's honestly going to be a good challenge." 

Running back Cody Schrader 

  • How he views Ohio State's defense as a whole: "They play smash-mouth football. They hit. They're very detail-oriented. They don't have a high pressure, and they really — that D-line is special. I think they're a really good group, really dominant group. They play behind their four-man rush. It's going to be a challenge for us. 

Quarterback Brady Cook

  • How he evaluates the Buckeyes defense: "The front seven is their strong suit, the defense plays really sound. On the back end, there's not a lot of MA's and missed assignments. They're sound, too. They know what they do really well. They play man coverage well in the secondary, so we need to take our opportunities when we can. But we're going up against a really good defense."
  • On how he feels about Ohio State being at close to full strength defensively: "I'm happy about it. I think it provides a good test for our offense. There's no question about personnel-wise, seeing the secondary front seven, et cetera. So I think it's going to be a great test for us. And I think we'll be prepared for them."

Wide receiver Theo Wease Jr.

  • On what stands out to him about OSU's defense: "Their relentless effort on defense. They play really hard on defense. They rally to the ball really well. Just how comfortable you can see they are in their scheme. I can tell they take a lot of time with film." 

Cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine

  • What he thinks of OSU's offense: "They have a lot of different playmakers they get the ball to. They have a good quarterback, good running backs. They're Ohio State, so we’ve just got to be dialed in and locked in."
  • On how it affects the Tigers' preparation not knowing if Marvin Harrison Jr. will play or not: "It really doesn't make a difference, because I feel like he was going to play anyway, so we prepare for him to play." 
  • On what stands out the most about the Buckeyes offense: "Their running back. They've got a good running back and a lot of good receivers, too."

Missouri safety Jaylon Carlies

  • Who he thinks OSU's No. 1 target will be if Marvin Harrison Jr. isn't playing: "It could be anybody. We still just have to go into the game just like he is playing. We don't take anybody for granted. We don't look at anybody differently. Going into it the same way we have every week."
  • On how it's different preparing for Devin Brown when he's had limited snaps: "It's definitely a challenge because you don't know their strengths and weaknesses. It's also fun just trying to figure out the quarterback throughout the game. Figure out the tendencies and what they like to do. As we're going through this process, we're treating it like we do anybody else. Going through the motions of preparing for quarterbacks who we might have played before. Our coaches have a good game plan for us and we're prepared."
  • On if they plan to throw Brown off with exotic blitzes: "We're sticking to the game plan we've been sticking to all season, nothing crazy. Everything we've been going through. Our plays we've been making with the game plan he's had. Stick with that. Try to stop the run, stop the pass, just try to stop everything. Getting him out of the game. As long as we're able to do that, we have a good chance of winning."
  • How he's preparing for Ohio State's elite wide receiver talent: "The offense is very talented. Ohio State has always been a talented team over numerous years. And we can't take anything for granted. We can't think anybody is less than the team. We can't think anybody is better than the team. We have to take everybody the same. We go in every week thinking everybody is elite and play our best game."

Linebacker Chuck Hicks

  • On whether he cares if Mizzou goes up against Marvin Harrison Jr. or not: "No. I mean, I don't. It's nothing personal against him. He's a great player. I'm just glad to play whoever is on the field. That's what it comes down to. We're ready for anything. If he does get the opportunity and he wants to come play, then great. I think it's a great challenge. I think he's a great player." 
  • On how the defense can disrupt Devin Brown: "I would say personally, I mean, he's a young guy. Probably just getting him off the spot, making him feel uncomfortable in the pocket. I think that's the goal for every quarterback. You get anybody uncomfortable, it's going to be a long day for anybody. And he can run the ball really well. I've seen clips on that. He can make them miss. He can run you over. He can do it all. Could be a great matchup for us, too. It's just about getting to him, making sure he can't do his game."
  • On how they've used Florida and LSU for guidelines on defending running quarterbacks: "Just keeping your eyes on him, making sure when you do have the opportunity to tackle him, we got to make it. There's times that we've missed things and kind of had a bad leverage on them. We just didn't make the tackle happen. I think that's where we just got to make the tackle when it comes to us."
  • On how he prepares for a quarterback he hasn't seen much of: "I've seen some plays on him. Still a really good player. He can throw the ball. He can run the ball as well. He bursts out. I think we prepare for him the same way as we do for anybody else. He's a good player and we're ready for him."   

Defensive end Darius Robinson 

  • On how Missouri is preparing to face a first-time quarterback in Devin Brown: "Yeah, we have a great game plan. I think obviously he's a great player. Going to be the first time starting, but as long as we focus on what we have to do, it's going to be very physical and a very good game." 
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