As we get further away from the Liberty Bowl, we at Rock M Nation are going to start taking a post-mortem look at Missouri’s 2018 season. We’re not going to go position-by-position, reviewing and previewing each spot on the roster. Instead, we’re going to look at interesting story lines from the 2018 season — and what they mean going forward.
Missouri had plenty of valuable players in 2018.
Drew Lock, obviously. Larry Rountree, too. On the defensive side, nobody was more important than Cale Garrett, Missouri’s leader in the middle at linebacker.
But you don’t know how valuable someone — or something — is until it’s gone. And, for that reason — by pure definition of “Most Valuable” — it sure seems like Emanuel Hall checks all the boxes to take home those honors for the 8-5 Missouri football team.
Hall had a strong statistical year, finishing with 828 yards and six touchdowns on just 37 catches. Those are almost identical numbers to his 2017 season (33 catches, 817 yards, 8 touchdowns).
Over the past two years, there’s been a correlation between the health and production of Emanuel Hall and the outcome of Missouri’s football games.
In 2017 against Power 5 opponents, Hall caught two or fewer passes five times. Missouri went 2-3 in those games.
In 2018, Hall caught two or fewer passes five times against Power 5 opponents, which included three DNPs.
Missouri’s record in those games: 0-5.
Those games — Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Oklahoma State — made up the entirety of Missouri’s losses.
Hall had a senior year that was limited by a groin injury and the sudden death of his father, and his production was remarkable considering he missed nearly six full games, as he was basically a decoy against Georgia and played one quarter against Oklahoma State.
His per-game averages extrapolated over a full, healthy 13-game season (rounding down):
57 receptions, 1,196 yards, 8 touchdowns. That’s underestimating, too, because of the Georgia and Oklahoma State games in which he appeared, but not for the majority of the game.
Plenty of Missouri players had notable, MVP-worthy years. But, because of what Missouri did when Hall was not in the lineup, it seems like a safe bet that the receiver from Franklin, Tenn., was the most valuable player for the Tigers in 2018.
What are some of the under-the-radar story lines of the 2018 Missouri football season that you’d like to explore in more detail? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to do just that — within reason, of course.