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Quick takeaways from an exhausting, frustrating 40-37 Missouri win over Purdue

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There’s a lot to unpack here.

Missouri v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

1. Missouri hasn’t won many games like this under Barry Odom so far.

Call me a sunshine pumper, but let’s start with something good.

Doesn’t it feel good to be critical, to be frustrated, to be exhausted after a Missouri game — and then realize it was a Missouri win? Over the last few years, this is the kind of game which Missouri has lost, and often, lost badly.

Instead, Missouri gave up 614 yards which included FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO through the air... and it won. It won because, despite some hiccups along the way, it had balance on offense, and a little luck on defense at the end, when Jared Sparks’ touchdown catch was overturned.

I felt pretty certain, based on the replay, that it SHOULD have been overturned, but I didn’t think it would be. After some of the missed calls throughout the game, that certainly took me by surprise.

The last time Missouri won a game like this? The season finale against Arkansas in 2016. And that only changed a 3-9 season to a 4-8 season.

Here’s some more good news: Missouri is 3-0 and eight wins remain very, very attainable.

2. After looking so competent through two games, the defense absolutely fell apart on Saturday.

This is just my reaction immediately after the game, but the problem really seemed to start up front. Missouri got no consistent pass rush, which was especially detrimental because early in the game, Purdue ran a lot of play-action where a decent pass rush COULD have had some time to disrupt things. So, by not forcing David Blough off his reads and out of his passing lanes, he had time to operate, and he found his receivers again and again and again in space.

But let’s also be real, OK? If the hand of God himself didn’t guide a deflected pass off of Cam Hilton’s helmet into the waiting arms of Brycen Hopkins for a 74-yard gain, Blough would have only had 498 passing yards. So let’s keep that in perspective.

You can try to spin this in a positive and say, “Oh, Purdue only had 46 rushing yards.” But why would they ever try to run the ball when Missouri’s pass defense got left at some truck stop somewhere outside of Springfield, Ill.?

Missouri is going to have to get used to winning games 40-37 because the next few games are against the best offenses it will see all season, and there’s almost no way this defense suddenly gets it together against the elite talent coming to Faurot Field next Saturday.

3. How Drew Lock answered his interception shows how far he’s come.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that thought there was no coming back from Lock’s fourth-quarter interception — his first of the year, in the absolute worst time. He tried to freelance and get Tyler Badie down the sideline, but underthrew his lob and his picked.

Ballgame.

But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Lock came back out in a tie game and what happened? On second-and-10, Lock has to freelance again and — somehow — throws back across his line to find Badie near the line of scrimmage, who scrambles for 20 yards. Instead of getting a negative or no-gain play to set up third-and-long, Lock and Badie make a chunk play out of nothing.

That’s the biggest difference in Lock. I don’t think he comes back from that interception if it was last year. I think he plays that drive tentative and tries to not lose the game instead of winning it. Instead, with that play in particular, Drew Lock notched a fourth-quarter game-winning drive into his belt.

4. Quick reads

  • Larry Rountree should be the workhorse going forward. Twenty-three carries, 168 yards, and he just seemed so much more decisive in his reads. Freshman Tyler Badie (12 carries, 61 yards) should be the No. 2 guys. At this point, those two guys should get the bulk of work over Damarea Crockett.
  • What happened with Emanuel Hall? Three catches for 61 yards to start the game and then... he didn’t play until the final drive, where he caught one more pass for 27 yards, and looked completely healthy. Bizarre.
  • I think Derek Dooley got too conservative for much of the second half. It wasn’t Missouri’s most efficient passing night, but the Tigers got away from its passing rhythm for much of the third quarter/into the fourth. Overall through three games, I’ve been pleased with Dooley as an OC, but I do think you need to continue to keep Lock and the passing game in a rhythm throughout the entire game. Lock’s showing he can make the short, quick throws, so even if you’re going for ball control, there can be a middle ground.
  • The Nate Brown/Pass Interference No-Call nearly swung the game for Purdue. Terrible, terrible missed call, as Brown was tackled before the ball got to him. If you look at it this way, say Missouri would have at least been in better position for a field goal on that drive after a PI. Instead, Purdue blocks a long attempt, gets good field position and then scores a touchdown. That’s at least a 10-point swing in the game. Yes, Missouri’s defense was awful, but you can’t say that no-call had no impact on the complexion of the game from there on out.