1 – How many different ways can you say it’s bad and it still might get worse?
Well, for today, at least 10. That was awful. It was over from the first drive. Mizzou was never competitive. The Tigers had a 3rd & 1 on their first drive, which became a 3rd & 6 after a false start. That quickly turned into a 4th & 10 after a draw to Ish Witter lost four yards. Auburn threw a 56-yard bomb on the next offensive play and the game was as good as over. Drew Lock never got going. The running game was virtually non-existent in the first half. The defense couldn’t get a stop. Name something that could have gone wrong, and it probably did.
2 – I can’t decide if it’s worse if the players quit, or if they didn’t. Mizzou looked completely outclassed against an opponent that beat Mercer 24-10 a week ago. That was a strange outcome, because Auburn is legitimately good. But they shouldn’t be 31-7 at halftime good. So, I’ll ask you; what do you think is worse – the possibility Missouri quit on its coach, or that they didn’t? If they did quit, it means the coaching staff has lost the players, but at least it explains what took place at Faurot Field on Saturday night. If they didn’t quit, it makes you wonder just how long this will take to turn around.
3 – The game management by Mizzou’s coaching staff was baffling. Let’s start at the end of the first half. Mizzou got the ball with 1:45 to play before halftime. The Tigers ran the ball three times before attempting a pass. Strange, right? Then they threw a pass and reached the Auburn 42 yard-line. Three plays later, it’s fourth down and Mizzou decides to punt from the Auburn 40-yard line with 10 seconds to play. Why? Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. On Missouri’s first possession of the second half, the Tigers had a 4th & 7 from their own 19-yard line. Odom decided to fake the punt with the punter running for the first down marker. It didn’t work. Later in the quarter, Mizzou had a 4th & 7 from the Auburn 37-yard line. Odom decided this time to punt. From the Auburn 37. With his team down 45-7. WHY? The play-calling and game management by Mizzou’s coaches to start this season have been puzzling, and it only got worse Saturday night.
4 – What is Mizzou trying to prove by playing its starters into the 4th quarter? Mizzou was down 48-7 with two minutes to play in the third quarter. The game was over. There was nothing to gain by keeping the starters in the game. And yet, there they were, Drew Lock at quarterback and Damarea Crockett at running back. Lock broke his nose earlier this week. He took his last snap with 8 minutes to play and his team down 51-14. That’s inexcusable. The coaching staff isn’t learning anything about their quarterback at that point. You’re risking injury with zero upside. When the game is out of reach, get your best players out of the game. That was clearly the case for Mizzou going into the fourth quarter.
5 – The offense has to change its identity. It’s inexcusable at this point. The only thing Mizzou has done at a reasonable level against power five opponents is run the ball with Damarea Crockett and/or Larry Rountree. That’s not much, but at least it’s something. Run the ball with Crockett or Rountree, run the play clock down to five seconds, and do it again. Sure, it might result in a few three-and-outs. What else is new? At least by going this route, the time of possession might not three-to-one in favor of the opponent.
6 – What do you think DeMontie Cross is thinking right about now? This is Barry Odom’s defense. The 2016 defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and cornerback coach are all gone. The players who complained about the scheme a year ago have moved on. This is Odom’s defense. He has to own it. The results are in, and it ain’t pretty. Odom’s defense gave up 109 points in the first three games, and another 51 against Auburn. Auburn’s three longest completions this season all came Saturday night against Odom’s defense. Through four games, Missouri’s defense has allowed 43 points against Missouri State, 31 against South Carolina, 35 against Purdue and 51 against Auburn. So much for D-Line Zou.
7 – The most frustrating part about watching Auburn dominate Missouri is that none of it was surprising. Mizzou was playing a power-five opponent Saturday night, so nobody should be surprised the offense struggled, and the defense gave up a bunch of points. This has been happening for quite some time. Since the start of the 2016 season, Mizzou’s offense is averaging 18.5 points per game against power-five opponents. The Tigers defense is allowing an average of 35.3 points per game. I wish I could say the result against Auburn was surprising, but it wasn’t.
8 – Missouri’s defense has a third down problem. It feels like every third down, regardless of distance, is a good situation for Mizzou’s opponents. Purdue, South Carolina and Auburn went a combined 23-for-47 (49%) on third down against Mizzou. Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? Arizona State boasted the worst third down defense in the country coming into this week, allowing a 54 percent conversion rate.
9 – The drops are back. Mizzou had at least three drops in Drew Lock’s first eight pass attempts. One resulted in an Auburn interception. It was a sign of what was to come. Over the course of the night, there were at least three drops on third down which should have resulted in a first down for the Tigers. Drops were one of the main issues that plagued this team a year ago. They didn’t show up much in the first two weeks, but they’ve been back in a big way against both Auburn and Purdue.
10 – At least Mizzou has a fantastic punter. Think of how much worse the season would be if we didn’t have Corey Fatony to enjoy? I’m not kidding when I say the loudest cheers of the first quarter came when Fatony pinned Auburn inside its own 10-yard line. I told myself I would end this post on a positive, so there you have it.