For the first time since Gary Pinkel was the head coach and Maty Mauk was the quarterback at Mizzou, the Tigers are off to a 2-0 start following their impressive 40-13 win over Wyoming on Saturday in Columbia.
There’s a pattern developing with this team…and it’s a positive one. They get off to fast starts defensively, quarterback Drew Lock is consistent, and Barry Odom and his staff have them doing the little things right that turn into big things. With that, five takeaways from a positive night in Columbia…
1) There are five Power 5 conference quarterbacks that have more yards than Lock’s 687, and just three that have more touchdowns than Lock’s eight. Lock has completed 74.3% of his passes…less than only five Power 5 QB’s…but his 70 attempts are ten more than the second place guy. Under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, Mizzou’s offense has remained efficient and Lock’s excellence hasn’t diminished at all. Obviously, as the competition gets tougher it’ll be harder to score 45 points per game, but they’ve done what they were supposed to do in these first two games.
2) Props to the starters on the offensive line; left tackle Yasir Durant, left guard Kevin Pendleton, center Trystan Colon-Castillo, right guard Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms and right tackle Paul Adams. Pendleton and Adams are both redshirt seniors, but the other three will be back next year, too. This group has NFL size…left to right they go 330 pounds, 325, 315, 330 and 315. And they’re effective. For the second week in a row, Lock wasn’t sacked, and the running backs rumbled for 203 yards on 46 carries. The o-line was the lynchpin of a nine play, 97-yard drive in the second quarter than made it a 10-0 game. Mizzou ran the ball seven times for 31 yards on that drive, with Lock passing three times for the rest of the yardage. Then at the beginning of the second half, the offensive line flattened Wyoming eight times for 32 yards as part of a thirteen play, 90-yard drive that culminated in a 28-yard Lock TD pass to Emanuel Hall that made the score 23-0 and put the game out of reach.
3) Wyoming came into the game with 451 rushing yards in their two contests, averaging 4.7 yards per rush. The Tiger rushing defense allowed them 88 yards on 30 carries, a 2.9 yard average. Quarterback Tyler VanderWal passed for 160 yards, with 55 coming on one completion, and the Tiger defense sacked him twice. Overall, Mizzou outgained Wyoming 601 yards to 248. Mizzou’s defense is 12th in the nation among Power 5 teams in allowing 263 yards per game. Of the 64 Power 5 conference teams, only sixteen have allowed fewer than Mizzou’s 91 yards per game on the ground. 23 have allowed fewer passing yards per game, and only nineteen have allowed less than their 13.5 points per game.
4) Senior linebacker Terez Hall plays all over the field. Much like former Tiger Kentrel Brothers, Hall makes plays sideline to sideline and provides a heartbeat for the defense. Hall had five tackles on Saturday and has eleven for the season, and fellow linebacker Cale Garrett had four more tackles to reach a team high dozen for the season. Behind a strong rotation up front, the Mizzou linebackers can fly around and make plays.
5) Mizzou did commit too many penalties with eight. There was only one pre-snap penalty though, and that came midway through the fourth quarter. There were a couple of ineligible player downfield calls, and unsportsmanlike conduct. The point is that the mental errors that cropped up in the first few games last year haven’t occurred this season. The Tigers continue to at least break even in the turnover battle, they were 14-20 in 3rd down conversions and allowed Wyoming to only go 3-13, and they were 4-4 in the red zone.
Next week, it gets tougher. The Tigers visit Purdue and a Boilermaker team that embarrassed them last season in Columbia. Part of the reason for the embarrassment was the widely held belief that Missouri’s players didn’t show up in the first half of that game. Now, Odom’s team has a chance to redeem themselves against a Purdue outfit that has lost it’s first two games at home to Northwestern and Eastern Michigan. Losing to Northwestern, with the longest winning streak in the FBS, isn’t a disaster; losing to Eastern Michigan from the MAC is pretty close to one. The Boilermakers have allowed at least 400 yards in each of their two games, and have yet to settle on a quarterback. So, Saturday night in West Lafayette should definitely be a winnable game for Missouri, which would put them at 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
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