Last Saturday night I stood in the student section at Faurot Field, and watched My Tigers do what I thought, at the beginning of the night, to be close to impossible. Loseing a Home game to Vanderbilt seemed like an impossibility just a few months ago. But when the clock struck zero, on Saturday night, the tigers had done just that. As I walked out of the staduim I thought to myself how did this happen? How did a season that started with so much promise turn so ugly so fast?
This is certainly not where I, or no doubt many of you, saw this team going at the beginning of the season. All summer Mizzou fans where fired up about the opportunity to play in the SEC. Mizzou sold the most season tickets in its history for their first season in the SEC. Gary Pinkel and the Mizzou football team reminded us at SEC media days that the teem "had not been playing high school football in the Big 12". James Franklin was coming off of an impressive first year starting, and looked like one of the best Quarterbacks in the conference. It all collimated with one of the biggest games in Mizzou history with Georgia coming to Columbia for the first time as a conference opponent. But just three and a half weeks later the Tigers are fighting to keep the prospect of going to there 8th straight bowl game alive. The main question I have been asking myself as the season has progressed is this. Is the cause of Missouri's wows the fault of the new conference or is something else going on? The fact of the mater is this Missouri's problems go beyond the just new conference.
1. Injury after Injury after Injury
Im beginning to belive that there is some sort of voodoo going on around the Mizzou football team. The past two seasons the tigers have had to deal with a slew of injuries. I know people have been talking about this over and over again but I don't think people understand what it means to lose most of your offensive line, and your starting QB to injuries. Any team that has gone trough the injuries Mizzou has gone trough would be having problems. This is just a case of bad luck more then anything else. If Missouri had stayed in the big 12 these injuries would be hurting them just as much there as they are in the SEC.
2. We are not running the Spread as effectively as we have in the past.
Do you remember when Chase Daniel was here? When he was qurterback Missouri was very close to unstopable on offense. Chase Daniel not only had the ablity to throw the ball on target, but he had a fantastic ability to read defences. He also had the ability to look down field and find open guys to create big plays. The thing that has always annoyed me about James Franklin is it seems like he docent have the ability to read defeces like Daniel did. He seems to look to the sidelines allot (I know you do in the spread but watch a game he'll look to them 3 or 4 times per snap and burn a lot of time off the play clock) and dosent take advantage of obvious defensive miscues. Franklin also seems to pass over open rececivers down field in order to take easier horizotal passes. Now Im no college football strategist, so I don't know if that is Franklins fault or the Offensive coordinators fault wanting Franklin to take the horizontal pass more, but Missouri has some of the biggest and fastest receivers in the conference why not take advantage of that and send them down field? My point is this the Offense under Franklin has always seemed lacklusterd to me compared to the Daniel era. I don't know if its youth or what but that has got to change if you want to run the spread in the SEC.
3. At times it feels like the coaches don't know how to utilize Franklin's running ability.
It is pure suicide to run Franklin like we have been running him this season. Against Georgia it felt like Mizzou would put an extra blocker in and run franklin right up the middle straight into one of the nations best defnsive lines. I don't understand what this what the Mizzou staff was trying to accomplish by doing this, but it clearly wasn't moving the ball. Franklin did have a good 22 yard run against Vandy last saturday, but that wasn't a designed run play as it was Franklin not seeing anyone open and running. The way to run Franklin is not to do designed run plays, but to do some sort of pass option and let him decide what he wants to do with the ball.
4. There are no real key playmakers on offense for Mizzou
Can you name one player of Offense this season that has just wowed you. There have not been any Jeremy Maclin's, Alexander's, or even Henry Josey's. There has been no one on this offense that has bee capable of creating bi Danario g plays when the teem needs it. That no to say the Tigers don't have offensive talent, fair from it, but they do not have a go to player that can rack up yards. I think with DGB and others a playmaker could definitely emerge, but for now we don't have the "guy". Again thoough you cant blame that on the SEC.
5. A good offense is a good defense
So fair I've focused allot on offense, but they have been the main problem with are team. Not to say Mizzou docent have some problems on defense, but they have been holding there own weight. Sheldon Richardson has had a monster season so far for Mizzou, and at this point is the best player on the team. Its wired seeing the defense better then the offense as a Mizzou fan because for so long the exact opposite was true. I think that Mizzou's offense is having to many unproductive drives that its effecting the defenses stamina. There is nothing more frustrating for a defense then having to go back out on the field after your offense has ether gone 3 and out or turned the ball over. If Mizzou could play better offensively the defense could hold longer, but thats football 101.
To be honest I'm not completely sure why Missouri is losing. Allot of people who know allot more about football seem to think Missouri is outmatched in the SEC. That the Spread can't work in the SEC, and that Missouri dose not have the depth to compete in the SEC. While all those things could be true I believe there are other explanations for why this season has gone so badly for Mizzou, and they don't have to do with Missouri being "outmatched" in the conference. Time will tell if Missouri can win in this conference with its curent coaches and system, but 6 games is not enough to panic over. We need to focus on fixing these problems that have noting to do with being in the SEC before we talk about anythings else.