Well, that hit the spot--kinda like an ice cold glass of lemonade (or sweet tea in SEC country) after a long day working in your granny's yard. You might wish you had a beer, but you're thirsty and your granny doesn't keep beer in the house. You'll take your lemonade (tea) without complaint because anything else is just being a jerk.
Missouri went on the road and had themselves a glass of George O'Leary's lemonade (tea), and I suspect they are grateful.
The offense was much more explosive than consistent. But, as long-time RMN readers know, explosive plays are really, really important in determining who wins. The defense played most of the first half on its heels but bowed its back in the 2nd half.
I'll limit tonight's two post-game thoughts to what we know* and what we don't know about the team going forward.
*I'm talking about reasonable inferences based on observation. We rarely "know" anything in sports until after the fact.
1. After five games, here's a few things we know. I think we know a good bit about the defense but far less about the offense.
- This defense has elite potential. Good at every level? Check. Play maker at every level? Check. Quality depth? Check (mostly). UCF is a tough road draw after a tough conference road game, and O'Leary kept the defense off balance with misdirection, unbalanced lines and--to be honest--solid blocking at the point of attack for the better part of two quarters. That showed me this group can take a punch and keep playing. Steck was making adjustments midway through the 2nd quarter, and Missouri found its run keys in the 2nd half. If the offense and coverage teams can keep game situations manageable, I doubt we see another South Carolina-caliber performance .
- On offense it's more sensible to list things out than to try to craft a coherent narrative. We have some explosive play makers at various skill positions. Kendial Lawrence is a Sprolesian* threat, and is in many ways a perfect fit for this offense. He should be big part of solving our efficiency issues. We know we have depth and play making at the receiver positions, but the inconsistency in route running, catching, and blocking has just been vexing. Putting wide receiver on the "what we know" list is mostly an act of faith. They should be better and I expect they will be.
*I'm not claiming Lawrence is as good as Sproles, merely that he's similarly versatile.
2. After five games, here's what we don't know (yet). On defense, most questions are about depth while on offense the questions are more existential.
- On defense we obviously cannot afford an injury to Richardson. He is the only real interior pass rusher AND he chases plays down. We don't know much about our secondary depth, but it has not been a huge problem to date.
- The big questions are obviously on offense. We have no clue what this offensive line can eventually do well, even after five games. Run blocking? Maybe, but it's hard to forget their high profile short yardage failures. Even today, Kendial did a LOT on his own. Five games in and we still cannot take the basics for granted. That's gotta make game planning extremely difficult for Yost. The center snaps consistently threaten play integrity. No lineman consistently wins (not dominates, just executes the block) one-on-one matchups, especially on passing downs. We still don't know what we're getting from Franklin play-to-play. Today was his best passing display to date. We also don't know much about our running back depth behind Lawrence. I love the explosive potential of Murphy and Hansborough, but both are fumble risks which is why they don't play more. The special teams. Goodness. They have been the definition of boom and bust.
After five games this feels a bit like the 2010 team; lots of talent but inconsistent by nature. Me thinks Mizzou Nation best prepare itself for some highs and some lows and enjoy the ride. Get your Pepto Bismal ready.