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5 thoughts from a legitimately fun (and potentially meaningless) Missouri Homecoming win

NCAA Football: Idaho at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On multiple occasions after a Missouri hoops win during the Kim Anderson era, I remember writing Study Hall recaps that basically amounted to “Winning is fun, and Mizzou should try it more.”

The general sentiment was that a win (usually against really bad competition) doesn’t have to say anything at all about the team’s trajectory or future, but it’s still way more fun to watch your team win and get to write about that for a change.

This was only Missouri’s seventh gridiron win in the last two calendar years. I hope you enjoyed it because it was fun. We’ll find out soon enough about whether it means something moving forward.

1. 65 points per game

NCAA Football: Idaho at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

One has to say this much about the Missouri offense under Josh Heupel: if you don't have the horses to keep up, you're going to give up a hilarious number of yards and points.

If you do have the horses, it's a completely different story, obviously. But destroying outmanned competition is still fun when it happens.

Missouri's offense vs. mid-major or FCS competition

  • EMU 2016: 647 yards, 8.3 yards per play, 61 points
  • Delaware State 2016: 698 yards, 9.0 yards per play, 79 points
  • MTSU 2016: 629 yards, 6.1 yards per play, 45 points
  • Missouri State 2017: 815 yards, 10.9 yards per play, 72 points
  • Idaho 2017: 658 yards, 10.3 yards per play, 68 points
  • TOTAL: 689 yards per game, 8.6 yards per play, 65 points per game
  • Drew Lock in those five games: 63% completion rate, 18.6 yards per completion, 25-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio, 205.9 passer rating*

I assume we’d all trade a few of those yards and points and transfer them over to actual games of importance, after all, but that’s still worthy of a “Damn!”

* Not going to lie: a) I laughed out loud when calculating Lock’s stats, and b) I allowed myself to daydream for five seconds about what would happen if college football got the promotion-and-relegation structure I’ve always craved. Missouri would be in the Sun Belt right now after last year’s relegation, rolling to the conference title (and promotion back to the SEC, and Drew Lock would be on pace for about 5,000 yards and 60 touchdowns. The buzz heading into 2018’s return to the SEC would be loud. As compared to ... current circumstances. Tell me you wouldn’t enjoy that at least a little bit, even if it meant a home slate loaded with Idahos and UL-Lafayettes.

2. Someone please think about the youths

The second-best thing that can come from an easy, fun win over overwhelmed competition is when new youngsters contribute to it.

Sure, sophomore starters like Johnathon Johnson (an acrobatic 50-yard catch) and Cale Garrett (3.5 tackles, 0.5 TFLs) contributed, but we knew about them. What about the second-stringers and beyond? Did any other youngsters contribute anything noteworthy?

  • Al Okwuegbunam (redshirt freshman): 4 catches, 57 yards (14.3), 3 TD
  • Richaud Floyd (sophomore): 1 catch, 18 yards, 1 TD, and an 85-yard punt return score
  • Larry Rountree III (freshman): 12 carries, 97 yards (8.1), 1 massive truck-stick
  • Tre Williams (redshirt freshman): 3.5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 QBH hurry
  • Franklin Agbasimere (sophomore): 1 TFL

Okwuegbunam and Floyd have put in plenty of reps in recent weeks, and it was nice to see them getting break-out opportunities. It was also nice to see a bit more of Rountree. He did not disappoint, particularly on his 53-yard rumble on the final play of the first quarter. Apparently there’s a chance Damarea Crockett is out a while (which we kind of suspected, and Barry Odom denied, this past week), so Rountree might get more of a showcase. Saturday suggested he might be up to the task.

The biggest revelation, however, might have been Tre Williams. After supposed maturity issues prevented him from cracking the defensive end rotation early in the season, he’s begun to see more reps. On Saturday, he looked really, really good. He was around the ball (and/or the quarterback) often. I’ll take it.

3. That seam route sure is sexy

NCAA Football: Idaho at Missouri
Albert O
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

One thing I’ve harped on in recent weeks is that most of Missouri’s receiving weapons are one-trick ponies. Emanuel Hall can go deep. Johnathon Johnson can catch bubble screens and explode if he gets that first block. The tight ends can run the seam route well.

The variety is not yet what it needs to be to become a more well-rounded overall offense, and good defenses will force you out of your single trick eventually. But Mizzou’s tricks have been very, very impressive over the last three games. Hall caught the two bombs against Georgia, and tight end Jason Reese caught a seam-route TD as well.

Against Idaho, the seam route almost couldn’t have worked better against air: Mizzou tight ends caught five passes for 119 yards and Okwuegbunam's three scores.

It’s the first time Okwuegbunam has caught three touchdowns in a game since high school. He’s never scored three in only one quarter, though. [...]

He had a great chance, which is why Lock was surprised the Vandals stuck to their defensive game plan.

“We truly thought that there would maybe be an adjustment to cover the field a little bit more,” Lock said.

It would make sense to adjust and roll a safety over the middle, but it’s also not shocking Idaho didn’t. That would leave Missouri’s speedy outside receivers in single coverage.

“You’ve got to pick your poison there,” Lock said.

4. I see you, defense

For the first time since probably last September, the Missouri defense looked genuinely good on Saturday. Yes, you're supposed to look good when you're far more athletic than your competition. And no, Idaho's offense isn't good. But neither is Missouri State's. Neither is South Carolina's. And Mizzou still managed to allow 74 points and 6 yards per play against those two teams.

Against Idaho, Mizzou allowed just 278 yards at 3.8 yards per play. Take out the Vandals' final garbage-time scoring drive, and those numbers are 208 yards and 3.2 yer play.

  • Idaho went 6-for-17 on third downs — 5-for-5 on a single second-quarter scoring drive and 1-for-12 otherwise.
  • Mizzou recorded 12 tackles for loss, its most since the season opener against Missouri State and its most against FBS competition since the 2015 Arkansas State game (15).
  • Mizzou sacked the QB five times, the most since last year’s Vanderbilt game (six).
  • Idaho went three-and-out six times.

Yes, yes, these are things we should always expect. But we “should” expect a lot of things we don’t actually get. Missouri’s defense looked the part for the first time in forever. We’ll see if the Tigers can do something similar against another outmanned opponent next week in Connecticut.

The “We’ll see” vibe pervades through this entire piece, actually. If Missouri is going to turn things around and legitimately improve down the stretch, it starts with a win like this. But a win like this doesn’t have to mean that. It’s up to Mizzou to prove it means something.

5. The helmets were pretty nice

I still don’t love the “white Block M with gold everything else” combination, but the helmets popped. I’ll admit that much.

NCAA Football: Idaho at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports