When you win in an absolutely resounding fashion the way Missouri did against Kentucky, you probably did a lot of things right. The team showed some things that give you hope that this program is not only on the right trajectory, but possibly even ahead of schedule.
- Connor Bazelak was excellent in the win. His overall line wasn’t flashy, but 21-30 for 201 yards with an additional 40 yards rushing and zero turnovers was exactly how the Tiger offense was going to have to move the ball. He made the right play every time it seemed, and never seemed overwhelmed with the coverages that he saw. He took a few shots from the Kentucky defense and it also didn’t phase him; he just got back up and kept playing.
My favorite play from him was actually a throw he didn’t make. On Kentucky’s one yard line, with no timeouts and eight seconds left in the first half, Bazelak had a bootleg opportunity where everybody was covered up in the end zone. Instead of taking a sack or trying to force a throw, he just threw the ball out of bounds in the back of the end zone. That stuck with me. The end of that first half was a little messy as far as clock management went, and instead of compounding the mistake of the coaching staff, he simply lived to fight another day and allowed Mizzou to salvage some points from that drive. It’s not flashy, but it’s another good sign of decision making.
- The Missouri defensive was stout and reminded me a lot of the defense we saw last season. There was legitimate pressure being provided off the edge, the interior held up against an experienced Kentucky O-Line, and honestly, the defensive line as a whole played with a nasty streak that hasn’t been seen recently. They absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. Linebackers played with excellent discipline and didn’t let Terry Wilson beat them with his legs much. The secondary was feisty and Martez Manuel in particular really set the tone on the first drive with a pass breakup and a nice tackle. The corners are young, but they’re improving every week.
- Larry Rountree III did what Larry Rountree does. He beats teams down. I mentioned in Friday’s edition of Pregamin that the key to Missouri winning this game was getting Larry Rountree involved and making it a point to getting him 20+ touches. Drink obliged, and decided to basically double down for good measure. Rountree rushed 37 times for 126 yards and 2 TD’s, which isn’t exactly eye popping from a yards per carry perspective, but it was a grind. The whole game was. He wore on the Kentucky defense to the point where it looked like they didn’t wanna tackle him anymore, yet Larry just kept running. He’s been so consistently good in his time at Missouri, and knowing that this was his last game against Kentucky, I’m glad he was the big reason that this streak is now dead.
One benefit to Missouri winning in such resounding fashion is that I can use this space to highlight some of the poor officiating in this game.
There were too many calls in this game where my reaction was, “What do you mean”? Ennis Rakestraw, Jr had a personal foul that I felt like, at the very least, should have been offset by a personal foul also for Kentucky. A facemask penalty called on Mizzou where Terry Wilson quite literally had a fistful of facemask. There were numerous holding penalties that came at key times in Missouri’s drives that helped stall the offense temporarily. Officiating doesn’t win or lose games (unless you’re Auburn), but since no one else holds officials accountable, this writer here will.
…. this section doesn’t have to be just for ugly things that happen to us, right?
I was worried this would draw a flag, but hey... it didn’t, and it was cool seeing Larry Rountree finish another run and put a defender on his backside while doing it. What’s not to love about that?
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