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Five takeaways from Mizzou’s backbreaking loss at Kentucky

Things went... poorly.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not going to waste your time with a preamble this week. That loss stunk. And it was honestly completely unexpected for me. I get it if you didn’t have faith in this team any longer. But I did. I thought they would bounce back the way we’ve seen Barry Odom’s team bounce back in the past.

It just didn’t’ happen.

So here we are. A season officially on the brink with a coaching staff feeling the heat. Without further adieu, my top five takeaways from tonight’s loss at Kentucky.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think Barry Odom should be fired, but I’m having a tough time telling you he shouldn’t be.

I still think Odom can be a good coach. Maybe I’m just stubborn that way. But I’m not of the opinion that he’s bad at his job.

There’s no spinning the way this season has turned. It’s the worst-case scenario. A team with a veteran quaterback who led Clemson to the national title game, a veteran offensive line that proved its worth a year ago, one of the top tight ends in the country and a two-headed monster at running back to pair with what should have been one of the better defenses in the country... That team shouldn’t be sitting at 5-3 through eight weeks.

Sometimes football is hard to explain. Other times it’s easy to explain. And tonight wasn’t particularly hard to explain.

Kentucky had allowed at least 180 yards on the ground in each of their last four games against power five opponents. Mizzou ran the ball effectively in the first quarter, and then completely abandoned the run in the second quarter. That’s coaching. That’s on Derek Dooley.

But it doesn’t end there. On a 4th and two down 22-7 with six minutes to play in the third quarter, Missouri threw a pass with its backup quarterback to a receiver with just one reception to his name this season. They did so while it was pouring. They did so on a must-have play with the season potentially on the line. To the surprise of very few, the play didn’t work. That’s coaching.

And then it happened again on the very next possession. Kentucky faced a 4th & 6 from its own 22-yard line to open the fourth quarter. Mizzou was stunned by a fake punt, and the Wildcats’ punter ran for 26 yards. The drive resulted in a touchdown. It more or less put the game away.

Sadly there was one more situation to discuss, the first end-of-half execution, or lack-thereof. Missouri got the ball inside its own 30 with less than a minute to play. The first two plays clearly didn’t work. The second resulted in a sack. Missouri called a timeout. Third down was the latest example of Murphy’s law. The Tigers fumbled, and the Wildcats scored a touchdown one play later to extend their lead to three scores right before the half.

I get trying to score in that situation with Kentucky getting the ball coming out of halftime. But when your offense clearly isn’t executing and the second play of the drive results in a sack, why not take it to halftime down 15-0? Live to fight another day in that situation. Odom didn’t, and it cost him in a big way.

I say all of that to say this - I get the criticism. Odom inherited a situation that I believe was worse than most Mizzou fans want to admit. But this was the year he was supposed to show progress. This was the season things were supposed to come together. And, despite the opening week loss at Wyoming, it really felt like it was going to during that stretch of home wins.

For whatever reason, things have come off the rails the last two weeks. That’s on Odom. It’s on the coaching staff as a whole. It needs to get corrected.

At least Mizzou’s next two games are against *checks notes* Georgia & Florida. Yikes.

What happened to this offense?

Mizzou’s offensive scoring output in its first six games: 31, 38, 50, 34, 42, 38.

Mizzou’s offensive scoring output the last two games: 14, 7.

You can say you saw this coming. That’s perfectly fine. But there was nothing to truly indicate this was coming. Mizzou’s offense had been executing at such a high level that I publicly declared my love for Derek Dooley. Am I allowed to retract that now? Because my goodness this offense has become difficult to watch.

This week I asked for Mizzou to target Albert O more often in the offensive gameplan. He finished the game without a reception.

Tyler Badie was the only offensive player in this game that seemed to have a pulse. He finished with 8 touches, including zero after his 74-yard touchdown reception.

I don’t have an explanation for what’s happened to the offense. I legitimately don’t understand it.

The levees for Mizzou’s defense finally broke.

Mizzou’s defense has held strong even in games in which Mizzou’s offense has gone stagnant for moments. But eventually the offense has to at least give the defense something to work with. That never came tonight, and the defense broke as a result.

Kentucky only finished the game with 29 points, but 29 points was pretty clearly more than enough. Kentucky threw all of eight passes in this game. The Wildcats knew their success would be determined by what they were able to do on the ground. And Mizzou knew that, too. It didn’t matter. Not when Mizzou’s offense was as anemic as it proved to be in Lexington.

I remember covering the team back in 2015 when Missouri had a top 10 defense in the country. The last two games have had the same feel to them. The defense holds up as long as it can until eventually it just can’t continue counter-punching. The offense has to give them something. Against Kentucky, it never did.

It’s probably time to have the Kelly Bryant discussion.

Through six games, Bryant was everything Mizzou fans could ask for and then some. The last two games (or 1.5, really), he’s been... Not good. I don’t know what’s going on. His accuracy is off. His decision-making in the zone read game has been questionable, to say the least. There are times when he doesn’t seem to be getting through his progressions quickly.

A big part of the problem against Kentucky was obviously the hamstring issue he suffered early in the game. Some of the onus needs to go on the play-calling for not putting him in a position to succeed. But even prior to the injury, it was clear Bryant was simply not having the same success passing the football that we had seen in the first six weeks of the season.

Welcome to a long two weeks of Mizzou discussion.

We have officially arrived at Mizzou’s second bye week of the season. Next up is a road game at Georgia. Then a home game against a top-10 ranked Florida team, followed by what appears to be a more difficult game than expected against Tennessee.

The noise around Barry Odom is going to be loud over the next two weeks. It’s deserved. The frustration surrounding the program is palpable. I would love to give you a silver lining from the last two weeks, but I don’t have any. This is as frustrated as I’ve seen Mizzou’s fanbase since Odom took over.

It’s one thing to lose when people expect you to lose. It’s another thing entirely to lose when the fanbase is expecting a special season. This was supposed to be that season. It looked like the team was going to be able to break through.

And then the last two weeks happened.

Take out your frustration in the comments. I get it. I don’t blame you. I wish I could give you reason to feel optimistic. I’ve got nothin’.

On to the bye week, then to Georgia, I guess.