Mizzou opened up the season with a win over Missouri State, and to be sure, with the Tiger program…which lost its homecoming game to Middle Tennessee State last season…a win is a win is a win.
That being said, even though they scored 72 points and won by 29, there were bad and ugly parts, too. So, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from Mizzou’s game one…
Drew Lock. Missouri’s junior quarterback had a record setting day, completing 21-34 for a Tiger record 521 yards and a school record seven touchdowns. It’s easy to dismiss that performance by saying “yeah, but it’s just Missouri State.” But the fact of the matter is that the 521 yards are the fifth most by an SEC quarterback in a game, and the seven touchdowns tie a league record. Aaron Murray is the leading passer in league history, and played against Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and North Texas in his career…and he never threw for 500 yards in a game. Chris Leak of Florida, Danny Wuerffel of the Gators, A.J. McCarron…none of them ever accomplished what Lock did against Missouri State. So, that’s good.
The offensive line. Lock dropped back to throw 35 times and was sacked just once, and the line blocked for 294 yards and 7.2 per attempt. Overall, the Tigers amassed a team record 815 yards. The offensive line was a bright spot last season, and even with a couple of personnel changes, is off to a good start this year.
Damarea Crockett. The sophomore back started off 2017 with 202 yards on eighteen carries and a 73-yard touchdown run. He emerged as a true freshman last year, and is on his way to being one of the top running backs in Mizzou history.
The first half defense. The Tigers allowed 382 yards and 35 points in the first half. They were awful. They gave up touchdowns of 75, 34 and 89 yards, and another 64-yard pass that set up a score. After the half, the Bears gained just 110 yards and one touchdown, but that was too late. Mizzou must be better early on if they want to be even competitive against FBS teams.
The pass defense in general. Missouri State quarterback Peyton Huslig looked more like Peyton Manning, going 24-35 for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Mizzou defensive backs allowed Bears receivers to regularly get behind them, and couldn’t break up passes. Huslig completed seven passes for seventeen or more yards. The big play tortured the Mizzou defense.
Tiger tackling. On numerous occasions, Mizzou’s defenders failed to use their arms to wrap up and make a tackle. That was a huge part of those aforementioned big plays by Missouri State. Tackling is based primarily on effort, and there simply wasn’t enough effort to complete rudimentary tackles. Barry Odom, who runs the defense, better get some teaching done with his limited practice time this week.
The missed extra point. Sophomore kicker Tucker McCann sucked the air out of several games last year with missed kicks. He missed four extra points and was just 6-12 in field goal attempts. And on Saturday, his missed his first extra point attempt. Then he booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Missouri State good field position. He did it again toward the end of the half, but Missouri State couldn’t do anything with that start from the 35-yard line.
To his credit, McCann did hit his next nine extra point tries and a 35-yard field goal, but in his second year, McCann needs to be consistent. If he isn’t, he’s going to cost his team games. He needs to fix the misses in a hurry.
The turnover margin was even in this game, which is unacceptable against an FCS team. Mizzou committed six penalties and allowed Missouri State to convert 50% of their third down opportunities. Aside from McCann’s start, the Tiger special teams were solid.
With South Carolina coming to down, the offense and kicking and kick return teams seem to be in shape. Odom was hired because he coordinated one of the best defenses in college football in 2015. He needs to recapture that coaching form, or Mizzou could be in for a season of shootouts.