South End Zone Season
We’re only one offseason separated from getting to experience Mizzou Football with the new South End Zone (and what a first season it could be!) There haven’t been any big updates recently, but you can check on the live cam at the bottom of the university’s web page to check on the progress.
Our parent site listed the 2018 Liberty Bowl under the, “Pick half of these if time’s tight,” category, but did have nice things to say about Missouri!
We might have been too low as a group on Missouri-Oklahoma State. The Tigers are better than they got credit for in a division Georgia dominated, and the Cowboys are unpredictable — maybe terrible, but maybe both good and fun. It depends on the day!
ESPN, however, is much higher on the Liberty Bowl, putting the tilt at number nine of all the bowl games.
Two top-20 offenses. Two really talented quarterbacks. Two teams that had some impressive wins. This hardly feels like a battle between teams that finished 8-4 and 6-6, respectively. At the very least, tune in to see Drew Lock’s farewell performance and the otherworldly talent of Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace.
It should also be noted, Mizzou has already announced a uni-combo for the Liberty Bowl.
I really like the yellow accent with the all white uniforms, thought I would’ve loved to see another iteration of the Block M — though I understand why they’d want to promote the logo on national TV.
It’s a Major Award!
We’ve been over the All-SEC teams, but let’s do a quick recap, just for kicks.
All-SEC Second Team, Coaches: Drew Lock (QB), Emanuel Hall (WR), Terry Beckner, Jr. (DL), Cale Garrett (LB), DeMarkus Act (DB)
All-SEC Team, Associated Press: Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms (First Team, G), Drew Lock (Second Team, QB), Terry Beckner, Jr. (Second Team, DT)
All-SEC Freshmen Team: Daniel Parker, Jr. (TE), Tyler Badie (RB)
Albert Okwuegbunam was up for the John Mackey Award for college football’s best tight end, but lost out to TJ Hockenson of Iowa. That’s not too much of a surprise considering how much time Albert O. missed this year.
Drew Lock is still one of the 11 finalists for the Manning Award, though we won’t know about his finish until January.
The 2018 season started fast, was bogged down by a rough October and finished with a sensational November. At what point were you convinced Missouri was going to finish the year with a bang?
Pete Scantlebury, Football Editor: About halftime of the Florida game. After starts and stops throughout the year, that was the first chunk of time where Missouri looked like it had put the whole puzzle together, on both sides of the ball. Our little team was becoming a man right in front of our eyes.
Josh Matejka, Editor: It was hard to get a definitive moment until late in the season since Tennessee was a potentially tough game. But when DeMarkus Acy picked off an underthrown ball from Keller Chryst and nearly took it to the house? At that point you knew Missouri was getting eight wins one way or the other.
Mitch Hill, Social Media Editor: After the Florida game. If we are being honest, I was in super doom and gloom mode before that.
Jack Parodi, Football Beat Writer: It’s gotta be the upset over Florida on the road. Nobody knew how Missouri was going to react after a brutal last-second 15-14 loss at home to Kentucky. The Tigers had the 11th-ranked Gators on the road the following week and everyone was already writing this one off as an L for Barry Odom’s squad. But that heart-breaking defeat to the Wildcats didn’t seem to deter anyone, as Missouri went into Gainesville and steam-rolled Florida. From then on, it was pretty clear this team wasn’t going to lose another game.
Ryan Herrera, Football Beat Writer: As soon as the team knocked off Florida, I didn’t expect Missouri to lose again. The Tigers just looked so focused that game, and even with the scare Vanderbilt gave them the next week, I never saw them losing the rest of the way. Bouncing back from the Kentucky loss to beat the Gators was huge, and I don’t think there was any doubt Missouri would finish on anything but a hot streak after that.
Chris Bohkay, Featured Writer: The Florida game, and it’s not even close. The Tigers went on the road and played the most complete game we’d seen under a Barry Odom coached team, and you knew that they were going to rip off a November like they had in 2017.
AlaTiger: About halfway through the 3rd quarter of the Florida game after Kam Scott’s TD.
Every week in Pregamin’ we did a break down of which uniforms Missouri was wearing that week. What was your favorite uni combo this year?
Pete Scantlebury: The Tennessee all-whites with the Block M helmet. Those were fantastic, but overall, this was a really, really good year for Missouri fashion.
That’s a perfect picture, right?
Jack Parodi: I was a big fan of the all-white uni’s with the Block-M helmet. [Editor’s note: Good choice!] Missouri wore these in a convincing 50-17 win over Tennessee and they were by far my favorite of the year. So fresh, so clean, and combining the classic block M with the icy, new white uniforms. Absolutely nasty. I love the Rock-M helmets Missouri wore for homecoming, but I just wish they put that same color and design into the rest of the jersey (basically replacing any gold with that white rock texture). That would’ve been FILTHY.
Ryan Herrera: I’ve always been a fan of the all-black uniforms, and I think Missouri’s combo against Kentucky was my favorite this season. There’s just something about the black unit with the Tiger stripes down the pants, and that extra pair of stripes across the top of the helmet added a nice touch. I mean, a win would’ve been nice that game, but I guess the season’s best uniform is an okay consolation.
Chris Bohkay: I’m going to give two answers here, one for the road and one for at home. On the road, the Purdue combo (all whites with tiger oval head helmet), and for at home give me week 1, gold pants, black jersey, oval tiger head helmet (though I would like to see the larger tiger head in this combo for it to be perfect.) Before it all starts, I’m not anti block M — it just doesn’t do it for me as it does for seemingly everyone else.
AlaTiger: By far, the all black unis with the block M helmets in the last game.
We’ve discussed the stars of the team - Lock, Beckner, Hall - at length, but Missouri couldn’t have cruised to 8 wins without a host of new faces contributing. Who was your breakout star of the season?
Pete Scantlebury: A lot to choose from here, but I’m going to go with DeMarkus Acy. I think Missouri’s defensive turnaround coincided with Acy finally realizing his potential. I truly believe he’s an elite-level SEC cornerback and could very well be a top-3 round draft pick next season.
Josh Matejka: There are a lot of guys that could be named here, especially on the offensive side of the ball. And while Jalen Knox, Kam Scott and Daniel Parker Jr. will likely be a hellish trio for any SEC secondary in the years to come, I’m saving this spot for Tyler Badie. Badie was a lightly-recruited tailback whom Odom and Co. snagged late in the game, and it feels like Missouri wouldn’t have been as dangerous a team without him as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. Badie has often been compared to Marcus Murphy, but his ceiling could be even higher if he grows on what he showed this year.
Mitch Hill: Daniel Parker Jr. was awesome and fun to watch him grow. Outside of that, I would go with Christian Holmes and Cale Garrett.
Jack Parodi: It’s a tie between true freshmen Tyler Badie and Jalen Knox. Both proved just how valuable they could be to this Missouri team in just their first year out of high school. They’re part of the reason I believe the Tigers have a very bright future ahead of themselves. Dom Gicinto didn’t look too bad in Missouri’s last couple games, either.
Ryan Herrera: Cale Garrett broke out immensely this year. We all knew how good he COULD be on defense, but he proved throughout the season that he might have been the best player on that side of the ball not named Terry Beckner Jr. (seriously, I think he gave Terez Hall a run for his money this year). And with another season of Garrett in 2019, I expect him to truly take the reins of this defense.
Chris Bohkay: I‘d go with either Jordan Elliott or Jalen Knox, just because of what they will mean to the team next year. The future is mostly bright outside of the gaping hole at QB.
AlaTiger: It has to be Jalen Knox.
Finally, the end of every season in any sport comes with the MVP question. So let’s address it: Who was this team’s MVP and why?
Pete Scantlebury: Drew Lock. Everything came together for Lock this season -- he didn’t put up video game numbers like last year, but I think he found himself and his role on the team. He was OK with fitting into the game, not forcing things and letting his ground game flourish. Honestly, without Lock, that rushing attack isn’t as effective. So, yeah, Drew Lock for MVP.
Josh Matejka: It couldn’t be anyone but the legacy kid. Amidst questions about living up to his potential and what legacy he would have in Columbia, Drew Lock shook off a rough month by putting together an excellent November in which he threw for 9 TDs, 2 INTs and a very nice 69 completion percentage. He ended the season short of the gaudy numbers from 2017, but he answered every question NFL scouts had about him, he helped Missouri to a Top 25 ranking and he notched a few big wins that had eluded him his whole career.
Mitch Hill: On the field, I think it has to be the entire O-Line. They were bruisers when it came to the running game and giving Lock time to throw as well. Derek Dooley also deserves a good amount of credit as well because so many people questioned that hire and it looks like it was a good choice. Also, let’s live in a land where Barry Odom, Dooley and Co win the Kelly Bryant sweepstakes. That’s just the cherry on top.
Jack Parodi: I‘m not sure who everyone else picked, but I’m fairly positive this isn’t a common choice: Cale Garrett. Sure, he may not make the flashy plays like Drew Lock or Damarea Crockett, but Garrett was the unquestioned leader and the heart-and-soul of this defensive unit. While it was criticized throughout 2018, Garrett lead one of the better rush defenses in the country. Whether it was lining up his teammates or making countless third and fourth-and-short stops, the junior linebacker always seemed to do something positive each and every play. Without Garrett’s leadership and football IQ, I don’t think the Missouri front seven does a whole lot this year.
Ryan Herrera: ‘m going to pick my MVP based on what I believe to be “valuable” (i.e. it isn’t just the best player on the team). That player for me is Emanuel Hall. We saw how hard of a time this offense had without him during that three game losing streak, and his return almost immediately brought the offense up a level. He was a big time playmaker this season when he was on the field, and I don’t know if this team reaches eight wins without him. Mr. Hall, take your MVP trophy and ride off in the sunset — you’ve earned it.
Chris Bohkay: I’m going to give it to Drew. He’s got swagger, he’s not afraid to put the team on his back and without him they don’t have the record or the season they do.
AlaTiger: I will go with Emanuel Hall. The team was so much better when he was healthy.