So, let's just get two things out of the way: (1) I'm ecstatic to hear that Eric Waters looks like he's going to be okay, and (2) Mizzou just isn't in the same class as Alabama, and maybe only three teams really are if you squint. Not that you didn't know that already. It's been a long time since a team just beat us up with a power running game--but that offensive line has multiple NFL starters on it. They lay hands on you and you stay blocked. (Now, Alabama holds a lot too. But honestly, their holding plays look so similar to their legal blocks--defenders stay stuck to them--I see why they don't get a lot of flags.)
Perhaps the worst thing about this game is that I just don't know how much diagnostic information came out of it because of the delay. Of course, we did find out that only Ace Sanders can keep Marcus Murphy off the all-SEC team as a returner. So, rather than rehash the game I'll make these two thoughts about the rest of the season.
1. I think this offensive line will eventually be good at run blocking. It just may not be until late this season, maybe even next season. This group has a nice combination of size and agility. (For the record, I like McNulty at center. If forced to choose, I'd rather a snap get rolled back than launched high and wide.) They don't necessarily drive opponents into the ground but they create gaps, creases, and angles. I saw enough well-blocked running plays vs. Alabama to convince me that this group can do what the offense requires. They're just living through lots and lots of mistakes. A coaching staff (not to mention fan base) just has to live through them. You've heard it here a thousand times: the long-term outlook is good. But if I might be so bold, I think the medium term outlook is good for the running game too. On the flipside, I don't think this group will develop well enough to be decent in passing downs this year.
2. The receiver group has most consistently underperformed its potential. For all the talk of the offensive line and QB, the receivers have been (to my mind) the biggest disappointment by a mile. Under the circumstances (sub-par QB and offensive line play) it isn't realistic to expect huge numbers. HOWevah... It's not as if these guys don't have chances to make plays in every game. They don't win consistently at the line of scrimmage. Nor do they get open deep. They don't catch it consistently. Nor do they contribute significantly to the running game or screen game. They also don't make anyone miss. (Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how do you like our WRs?) Having said that, the potential for this group remains as high as it was the first day. This can still be a deep stable of playmakers. There are still lots of plays to be made.
In many ways, the bye couldn't come at a better time. Normally, the coaching staff would have long ago figured out what its team runs well. They would spend the post-bye portion of the schedule concocting ways to keep the team operating under favorable conditions. The schedule, injuries, and sub-par play have conspired to keep the coaching staff from clearly understanding what this offense can do. Hopefully, the bye week will allow the coaching staff the opportunity to figure some things out.