You may have noticed a whole lot of yellow on the field on Saturday. Thankfully, I’m not talking about the jerseys.
The Tigers finished with 10 penalties for 100 yards on Saturday. It was just the fourth time since Barry Odom took over as head coach at Missouri that the Tigers finished a game penalized for at least 100 yards. It was exhausting to watch. There was a point in time when you almost expected to see a penalty after every play.
And, for most of you, that was probably seen as a negative. Not for me. Not this week, anyway.
You can’t ask for a more frustrating way to start a much-anticipated season than what Missouri did against Wyoming, but the Tigers channeled all of that frustration against West Virginia.
Most of Missouri’s 10 penalties on Saturday could be classified as over-aggression, something I’m not sure any Missouri fan would have accused the team of against Wyoming. Two of the penalties were offsides on a kickoff. Another was roughing the passer. Two were defensive offsides. And then there was a block in the back on an interception return and two other personal fouls defensively.
Do you want those penalties? Of course not. But each of them was a sign of the way Missouri was going to play on Saturday.
The penalties were a symptom, not a disease.
Mizzou’s players heard all offseason about how this had the potential to be a special season. They can interpret the questions we’re asking, they hear things in classes or from people around town. Heck, some of them even read sites like Rock M Nation. It’s true! Then, in week one, they went out and lost to Wyoming.
You think they weren’t every bit as frustrated as you were? Wrong. The players knew what had just happened. The coaching staff knew how disappointing that loss was. Everyone involved wanted to avenge it. West Virginia just so happened to be the next team on the schedule. And they were not ready for what was about to hit them.
That’s exactly what the Tigers did on Saturday. They hit the Mountaineers. Over and over and over again. They finally got out a week’s worth of frustration. And it came with some penalties. An over-anxious player on special teams starts too quick and steps across the line before the ball is kicked. A pass-rusher gets an early jump. A defensive lineman takes an extra step toward the quarterback to put a hit on him that might have come a second late.
You don’t want it. It can’t happen consistently. But it was all a symptom of the way Missouri wanted to play on Saturday.
Missouri needed to get that taste out of its mouth. The stench of a terrible loss on the road followed the Tigers everywhere they went. This was their first opportunity to make amends. And that’s exactly what they did.
Barry Odom has to make sure the penalties don’t become a recurring problem. Missouri can’t play that way and win consistently. But for one game? It’s not a concern. That was about Missouri taking out its frustrations.
And, frankly, thank goodness they did.