The dust has settled on this game so it is time to dive into a review. Head Barry Odom has let his defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross go. This is a strange move, in my opinion, since the defense wasn’t the problem for most of the game, if we are being honest. Sure it was not fantastic and the tackling fell off in the second half, but really the offense couldn’t move the ball successfully and special teams were anything but special.
Here are my five takeaways from the game.
- Drew Lock continues his struggles against P5 schools. He has played 18 games against P5 schools and his stats go like this: 49% completion, <200 yards/game, 13 TDs, 18 INTs. That isn’t going to cut it when you play in what is believed to be the toughest conference in all of college football. Let alone the next level. Lock has to find a way to be effective against teams that boast talent at or above Mizzou’s level.
- Damarea Crockett is so, so good. His absence was felt in the second half without a doubt. He had 18 carries for 97 yards and his legs never stop moving. He takes defenders on and imposes his will on them. Between him and the O-Line clearing the way for him, this team can run the ball. But when you lose a player like Crockett, it’s hard to replace him (unless of course the person behind him is Nick Chubb, Derrius Guice, or whoever Alabama has on their team). Not many teams have that luxury and while I believe Witter and now Rountree to be capable backups, they just aren’t Crockett. When he is going, it opens up everything, just like this play-action TD to Jason Reese.
- Special Teams: WOOOOO BOY. A Kickoff returned for a touchdown, 24 yard FG blocked, and a muffed punt. The Kickoff returned for a TD deflated the stadium after going up 10-0. The blocked FG would’ve made it a 14-13 game going into the half and the muffed punt was after Mizzou needed a major stop, got said stop, but then failed to get the ball back. As aforementioned, special teams were anything but special.
- Catch the ball. Sure Drew Lock wasn’t great, but helping him out here and there goes a long way. There were multiple times where his receivers had a first down (and some potential YAC) and they just dropped it. Got caught peaking up field, heard footsteps, or whatever your reasoning might be, they just simply failed to make the catch. This group has a lot of talent, they just need to show it in big games, much like the one we all witnessed on Saturday.
- The Defense. Improvement! That was nice to see. They came out looking like a Mizzou Defense many people became accustomed to over the years but they did not sustain it for the entirety of the game. You can blame time of possession if you want (they have been on the field for about 30 minutes longer than the offense the entire year), but you can also point towards their tackling. You’ll see someone fly into the backfield, be in the right spot to make the tackle and just miss. After the game, Head Coach Barry Odom said “Our Margin for error is absolutely zero. If we don’t win the turnover margin & we’re horrific, we’re not going to win a game.” If you are in position to make the play, make it, you cannot afford to miss a tackle (especially for a loss) against a conference opponent like South Carolina. And, creating some turnovers here and there would also be a positive. Remember that streak Mizzou created a turnover in 47 straight games? That was fun, let’s get back to that.
So. Where does Mizzou go from here? Barry Odom has been calling the plays on defense for some time now. Lock’s struggles against P5 teams are well documented at this point. But what does this team do from here? You’ll be able to learn a lot about this team and staff on Saturday and it has been said many times that winning fixes a lot of problems. Win Saturday and all is not lost.