1. [clicks stopwatch] Well done, guys
If Missouri starts slowly and plays sloppy ball early, it will almost be understandable. The Tigers could be a bit hungover after last weekend’s heartbreaker, and it might be hard to get up for an opponent they know they will beat. And make no mistake: Even with a slow start, they’ll still win comfortably.
But screw that. I want to see a resilient, angry bunch, and I want Mizzou to put the game away as quickly as possible. Make a statement, then put the backups in for the second half. This game presents a unique motivational challenge for Barry Odom and his staff — here’s to them acing the test.
If I were nitpicking, I would note that Mizzou had to settle for a field goal on its third possession and that, after a bad snap cost 20 yards, the Tigers punted on their sixth possession. (They didn’t want to punt — they attempted a fake that would have worked if not for a penalty.) I would note that there were a few drops that cost Drew Lock a few percentage points on the completion rate (which fell all the way to a ghastly 72 percent).
But after 15 minutes, Mizzou led 30-0. After 30, Mizzou led 58-0. After 50, 79-0. That’ll do. Any hangover that existed lasted exactly one play: J’Mon Moore’s drop to start the game. The Tigers were just fine after that.
2. Milking a play for all it’s worth
Last week, SEC Country’s Ollie Connolly wrote a really cool piece about the offense Josh Heupel was designing.
The object of the system is to spread the field, create 1-on-1 matchups in space for receivers, clear the box for running backs and have the quarterback read one half of the field.
How they achieve that is by forcing the defense to cover the entire width of the field. Receivers line up outside the numbers and sometimes directly by the sideline.
That makes the defense do three things:
1. Unload the box.
2. Play mostly man coverage.
3. Play with wider safety splits in two-high sets, allowing the offense to split the field.
Through simple receiver alignments, the offense can attack one half of the field, assured the defense is playing predominantly man coverage.
The additional Baylor wrinkles are this: The Bears do it fast, and the backside receivers do not run routes.
He then showed some examples of Missouri receivers indeed running routes on only half the field.
We saw quite a bit of that yesterday. There was quite a bit of repetition, of milking a matchup for all it's worth and allowing the receivers on half the field to rest. On the first drive, Lock hit Emanuel Hall three times for 57 yards. On the second, he found J'Mon Moore three times for 71 yards. The third drive began with four passes to Dimetrios Mason in five plays.
Obviously Mizzou was going to be able to do whatever it wanted on Saturday, and there were plenty of matchup advantages to be found. But one of the (only) interesting aspects of a game like this is that you get an extended look at one's intentions, at the attempted identity. We were already catching on to what Heupel Ball was going to be like, but this was further exposure.
3. It’s LSU Week
This might be my favorite Rock M tweet, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
After the first half of this game, Mizzou media can't say Barry Odom never opened practice to the public.— Rock M Nation (@RockMNation) September 24, 2016
I’m struggling to come up with much else to say about what was basically a glorified scrimmage. We knew this was what we were getting into, and we got it, perhaps far more than expected.
Even last year’s Mizzou offense would have probably scored 50 points against this team. There was only so much you could prove. But despite last week’s result, despite an overwhelmed opponent, and despite potential struggles with motivation and focus, Mizzou was sharp and efficient. That’s all you can ask for.
And now it’s LSU week. LSU isn’t as good as expected, but the Tigers are still a strong team, and it’s still time to prepare for Death Valley at night. Mizzou didn’t perform particularly well in its first road game; here’s a chance to prove that the growth and upward trajectory are still on track.
An added bonus, perhaps: Mizzou basically finished Derek Dooley’s Tennessee tenure with a road win in 2012 and sounded the death knell on the Will Muschamp era at Florida with an embarrassing (for them) romp in Gainesville in 2014. With LSU’s disappointing start and discombobulated loss to Auburn last night, the vultures are circling in Baton Rouge. Might as well be Missouri that finishes Les Miles, too.