So Fresh and So Clean, Clean
I’m always a sucker for all-whites, and I’m really digging the way the equipment team is experimenting with all these different color combos.
However, I do want to point out that Missouri is undefeated all-time when sporting the Rock M helmets.
What the “experts” are saying
- Jack previewed the opposing team as he does every week and found that — SHOCKER! — Florida’s strength is on defense. The offense, however, is pretty ineffective, meaning we could witness a defensive struggle in The Swamp.
- Dave Matter points out that this year’s Florida team isn’t much different than the one Missouri put in the trash last year. However, this year’s version — coached by Dan Mullen — seems to have more fight in them.
- Saturday Down South has... wait, what’s this? They have Missouri winning this game 30-24.
The Gators talked a bit of trash about Missouri at SEC Media Days, which was odd given how they had been taken to the woodshed by Lock and the Tigers the prior November. My guess is the Tigers will remember that, and Lock has to be salivating over the chance to play a banged-up Florida secondary that could be without both its All-SEC corners and mid-season All-American Brad Stewart.
- Florida should be getting one of their top defenders back according to Alligator Army, but if I know anything about head coaches and gaming players’ injury statuses, I’ll keep an eye on Henderson before the game.
- PowerMizzou took a look at what the PFF numbers have to say about this matchup ($$.) Surprise, surprise, Missouri doesn’t have many advantages.
Another chance to beat a ranked opponent... another disappointment. Saturday’s loss to Kentucky was probably the most gut-wrenching moment of Odom’s tenure so far, and there’s blame being tossed in almost everyone’s direction. If you had a paragraph to diagnose Mizzou’s problems in the Kentucky loss, what would you point out?
Pete Scantlebury, Football Editor: A lack of identity. That’s Missouri’s biggest problem right now, and it really showed against Kentucky. Is Missouri an offensive team? Is it a defensive team? Is it conservative? Is it aggressive? Yes! All of them -- but also, none of them. Missouri’s confusion with what it wants to be showed in the second half, where the offense was neutered by Josh Allen and some bizarre coaching decisions. It showed on defense, on that last drive especially, where Missouri went prevent about five plays too early. If you ask what kind of team Missouri wants to be right now, the response would be the shruggie emoji.
Jack Parodi, Football Beat Writer: The most glaring to me was the ineptitude of the offense in the second half. In eight drives, they went three-and-out eight times, mustering up just 34 yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters. It was the worst showing of a Drew Lock-led offense I’ve seen in his four years as the starter. Not only that, but Odom’s clock management and Dooley’s play-calling down the stretch were questionable at best. That third-and-two play sticks out to me most of all. I simply don’t understand why you risk passing the ball there, allowing Kentucky not to save their final timeout. On top of that, Damarea Crockett looked solid on the first two carries of that drive, so why stray away from what’s working? If they ran the ball with Crockett there, regardless of if it would’ve gotten a first down or not, Kentucky burns that timeout and doesn’t have the time to drive down the field to win at the last second. To simplify it, last Saturday was a s--t show.
AlaTiger: In a game that close, any one of a number of things coming out differently changes the result. The two most glaring are execution on offense and special teams. There’s just no excuse to give up a punt return touchdown or for the lack of first downs in the second half.
Let’s address the Barry Odom question: a lot of people are publicly wondering what his standing is if Mizzou continues to disappoint this year. What’s your stance on Barry Odom right now, and what would he need to do to salvage this season?
Pete Scantlebury: Unless the bottom drops out and Missouri misses a bowl game, Odom will be around for another year. So to salvage this year, Missouri has to win three of the last four games and then win a bowl game, too. Suddenly, 8-5 looks pretty dang good -- and if you don’t focus on how they got there, that’s a solid year for Missouri. My stance on Odom, overall, is that he (and his staff) just can’t seem to get out of their own way. They’re two plays away from 6-2. At some point, this staff and team just needs to stop making things more chaotic than they need to be.
Jack Parodi: I don’t think Odom is on the hot seat right now. While he’s been pretty awful against above-.500 opponents in his tenure as head coach, Missouri has won the games it should thus far. People have to remember this team is a couple bad plays and calls away from being 6-2 right now with losses to two of the nation’s top-six teams and a win against the No. 12 team in the country. They’re so close. Saturday isn’t a must-win for Odom, as beating a highly-ranked Florida team in The Swamp is a gargantuan task, but if the Tigers don’t win out from then on to go 7-5... Odom’s behind may get the boot.
AlaTiger: When you hire a first time head coach who spent all of one season as a Power 5 coordinator, you have to expect growing pains. Making a hire like that without being in it for the long haul is nonsensical. The surprise would have been if things had gone smoothly with a steady trajectory to success. The staffing misfires, the mixed bag of in-game decision making, etc. are all part of the growth process. Big picture, this is clearly a better team than last year. If you flip the results of the toss up games (Purdue, South Carolina, Kentucky), no one is having this discussion. There’s a reason AD’s and GM’s say they will evaluate a coach at the end of the season. Instead of worrying about what might happen, I’ll judge Odom’s performance based on what does happen this season.
There ain’t no rest for the wicked, and Mizzou doesn’t get much of a chance to lick its wounds - Florida will be a whole different animal than Kentucky. If Mizzou wants to get back on the horse (and notch a ranked win while they’re at it), who needs to step up?
Pete Scantlebury: Defense. DeMarkus Acy. Cale Garrett. Terez Hall. All of them. Because to win this game, the defense needs to force a few turnovers and probably score at least once on that side of the ball. You do that, it takes pressure off the offense and who knows what happens?
Jack Parodi: Drew Lock needs to play like the preseason Heisman candidate everyone thought he could be. There’s no more room for excuses anymore, as Nate Brown and Emanuel Hall are healthy for this week and the defense looked very formidable last week against an offense that’s very similar to Florida’s. If Lock can show people why he’s such a highly-touted NFL prospect, Missouri has a very good chance of stealing a victory here. He’s the only person that can really put the Gators on upset alert..
AlaTiger: The receivers need to take a big step forward. Hopefully Hall really is healthy.
PICK ‘EM! Score prediction and which player could be key in upsetting the Gators in the Swamp.
Pete Scantlebury: Well, I just don’t see an upset in this one. I’m picking the Gators, 24-13, in an ugly, boring game 2015-type game. If Missouri pulls the upset? I’ll go with Acy as the key. He’s Missouri’s most talented player in the secondary and they’re in desperate need of a pick-six.
Jack Parodi: Florida 20, Missouri 13. The Gators’ offense isn’t anything special and relies heavily on the run, much like Kentucky’s. For that reason, I think Missouri’s defense will play a nice, stout game up front and force quarterback Feleipe Franks (98th in FBS in completion percentage) to beat the Tigers with his arm. It’ll be a chippy defensive game throughout, and Florida’s far-superior defense will prove to be too much in The Swamp. A one-touchdown victory for the Gators will put Missouri at 0-5 in the SEC and below .500 for the first time this season.
AlaTiger: Mizzou in a tight one, 21-17.