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"Sometimes fate just up and f*&ks you for no good reason." -- Darwin Tremor
So. This inaugural season is looking more and more like one to be endured rather than savored. Now, given what is wrong with this team -- a combination of untimely injuries and sloppy play -- the Tigers could easily be having this exact same season in the Big 12 or the Mountain West, and just be poorer for the privilege. This is just a bitter loss. That feels bad enough. It wasn't a referendum on anything.
Missouri is halfway to bowl eligibility, but with essentially no margin for error a bowl is no sure thing. If Franklin, Morse and Murphy are out beyond next week there is even less than no margin for error.
I wrote in the game thread that six games in we still know nothing about this team, to which a number of people replied with "we know that this team sucks" and words to that effect. I get that the results have been hard to watch at times but the point I'm raising is that the constant flux makes assessing performance difficult. Understanding what this team is capable of--whether you're talking "fully healthy" or "likely starters going forward"--is practically unknowable.
Onto the thoughts.
1. The run blocking was improved in this game, early and late. This doesn't appear to be the kind of offensive line that can open holes consistently against a stacked box or in the red zone. It needs the threat of the pass to create space. The first few drives with Franklin were lovely. Late in the 2nd half, once Berkstresser reached basic competence, we opened room for Lawrence, who may have had even more touches but for poor game management and missed plays by Berkstresser. Those took Lawrence out of the mix much more than Vandy's D (or Yost). This offensive line is not capable of just ramming it down the throat of a decent defense, and as we know can't play in passing downs (or late and behind situations that are not strictly speaking passing downs).
2. COTG is a hater. Whatever the ceiling for this offense, it won't be reached until the key players get reps with each other. Mizzou has been snake-bit by in-game injuries that have prohibited the development of any kind of continuity this year. Pinkel/Yost can scarcely build on anything week-to-week because so key players are injured and/or out of position. That's not excuse-making or crying. It is simply an unavoidable fact that a team can only develop by guys getting reps.