Keep Calm and Wear a Mask!
- You know the score at this point — games have been cancelled, Nick Saban has the ‘Rona and everything is generally bad in the world of college football and COVID-19.
- On that note, the SEC is going to start punishing teams that don’t follow COVID-19 guidelines. Is there any reason to believe Mizzou might be one of those schools? Who’s to say?
- Meanwhile, hospitalizations are at a new high and positivity rates are rising for COVID-19 in MIssouri. Please, please, PLEASE stay safe out there, y’all.
All Aboard the (Nick Bolton) Hype Train!
So Fresh and So Clean, Clean
Watch: #Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz says he truly expected to beat No. 17 LSU on Saturday. That's his team's mindset.— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) October 12, 2020
"You live up or down to your expectations, period. I mean - no offense, I'm a 5'10" dorky white dude with no business being a college football coach." pic.twitter.com/aKwIjMxpjv
Pale blue striped polo? Rectangular frames? Drink got the DRIP!
What the “Experts” are Saying
- Gabe and Mitchell at PowerMizzou picked the weekly SEC slate over In their premium Blowin’ Smoke feature.
- There are some fascinating picks over at Saturday Down South this week, including two picks for Arkansas over Ole Miss and South Carolina over Auburn. There’s also a hung jury on Georgia vs. Alabama.
- Barrett Sallee is feeling more confident in the favorites over at CBS Sports, picking all of them to win with only two dogs to cover the spread.
Well, here we are. All dressed up and nowhere to play football. Scheduling changes were inevitably going to happen this year, but the timing of this week’s postponement was... notable considering Missouri’s recent win. Do you see this unexpected bye week as a good/bad/neutral thing?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Manager: I suppose there are bad things about it, especially with all the momentum potentially lost by not banking a win against a very beatable Vanderbilt. But the COVID-19 factor is what gets me here. Mizzou is currently missing a boatload of talent due to the virus, and the extra week gives them all a chance to recover and/or pass clearances set in place by the SEC. I know we were all wowed by Tauskie Dove and Boo Smith. But you’re telling me this team isn’t better with Dominic Gicinto, Damon Hazelton and Kobie Whiteside on the field? Please.
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: This Bye Week in particular is a good thing: let the guys who have the COVID recover fully — both from a physical and from an SEC protocol standpoint —and the injured guys can get a week off to rest as well. I loved what I saw from the last-men-standing McGuire and Utsey but don’t want to have them turn around and do it again so this will be a nice, happy, unexpected gift.
Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer: I’ll take the optimistic route and say it can be a good thing. Missouri just had a crop of wide receivers and defensive tackles play a career-high in snaps. Asking them to do it all over again was going to be difficult no matter the opponent. Say what you will about Damon Hazelton and Keke Chism, they are both talented receivers. Adding them to the rotation is going to help, even if they don’t go back to their previous roles playing every snap.
That being said, it does take a bit of the wind out of the sails of fans. I think it helps the players, but hurts the fanbase in trying to capitalize on the momentum of the LSU win.
Let’s talk roster since that’s been in the news this week. Missouri has already had some young guys transfer from the team on the young season, and reason suggests more could be on the way. Are you surprised by these decisions, or is it just part of the college football game?
Josh Matejka: Frankly, I’m surprised more players haven’t transferred already. With the announcement this week that immediate eligibility will be granted next year, I’d imagine players will be more ready than ever to jump ship if their situation isn’t to their liking.
But what really makes transfers like CJay Boone unsurprising is simply the fact that there’s a new guy in town. Barry Odom was a coach who inspired a ton of loyalty, and Missouri is still full of a lot of his guys. The older contributors likely don’t mind the fact that they’re still getting run, but the younger guys (who aren’t playing) should see the writing on the wall — if you weren’t brought here by the head coach and you’re already ceding room on the depth chart to younger guys, you may as well start packing your bags if you want to see the field.
Nate Edwards: It’s just a part of the college game and, at this point, we all should be used to it. It sucks to see Boone and Edwards leave but if this isn’t what they wanted then I certainly understand going elsewhere to find a better fit. The timing is a little odd simply because, at this point in the season, no one is going to take you and now you don’t have practices or workouts with the team. But I trust that they know what’s best for themselves. I just want as many Drinkwitz guys on the team as possible and if that’s via graduation or transfer so be it.
Brandon Kiley: I think it’s part of any new regime, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Players who the previous coaching staff recruited might not fit with what Eli Drinkwitz is trying to accomplish. Some of the players he recruited might have second thoughts about living in Missouri, or the playing time they’re receiving. Is it surprising to see the timing of some of these transfers? Sure. But they were coming eventually. I’m not sure if it makes a big difference whether they happen now or at the end of the semester.
Regardless of how you feel about the bye week, it does give Missouri fans an extra week to bask in that victorious glow. Now that we’re almost a week separated from LSU, what’s one thing that’s still lingering in your head from last Saturday?
Josh Matejka: I’m still pretty blown away by that final goal line stand and what it could signal about the defense for the rest of the year. Maybe Walters’ unit hasn’t lived quite to the expectations we set on it at the beginning of the year, but those were four downs of utter domination against a pretty good offense. The defensive line constantly got push and the pass coverage was excellent against a receiver who threw up 200+ yards on the day. They need to get more consistent about not allowing explosive plays, but they were excellent about tamping down LSU’s success rate (for more on that, check out Beyond the Box Score), which could signal that they’re figuring some things out. With a stable of improving corners and some defensive linemen that appear to actually create some havoc, maybe the defense is finally getting its act together.
Nate Edwards: I still cannot get over how good the run defense was. Yes, LSU didn’t do it much but, when they did, they were so very bad at it. And it was the thinnest positions they were running at, to boot! I’m also flabbergasted that they held an LSU team with Terrace Marshall, Jr. to 0-10 on third down. I can’t even think of the last time any Missouri team did that to any opponent and they did that to [clears throat]
Brandon Kiley: That Missouri has its quarterback! I know we’ve said this a lot and there has certainly been plenty written about it on the site in the last week, but there’s a reason for that. It’s the most important position in the sport. It was the biggest question facing the team going into the season. There were no clear answers in the first game of the year. Things started leaning toward Connor Bazelak after the Tennessee game.
There are no longer any questions. Bazelak is your starting quarterback moving forward. He has some special qualities. He’s accurate, he’s calm in the pocket, he reads the field well and he seems to have a good grasp already on what Drinkwitz wants to do in this offense. That’s pretty impressive for a player who tore his ACL less than a year ago.
PICK ‘EM! Or at least, pick one. What game is at the top of your viewing schedule now that Missouri has been placed in involuntary timeout?
Josh Matejka: I’ll have my eye on a number of games that could portend Missouri’s future (Tennessee/Kentucky and Florida/LSU), but is there any reason to pick a game over Alabama-Georgia in terms of pure enjoyment? There’s no doubt this is the SEC Championship game preview, and it’s a matchup of one of the country’s most prolific offenses and stingy defenses. With all the recent history between these two schools, you best bet I’m not choosing any game over this one.
Nate Edwards: Alabama vs. Georgia is the easy answer but don’t sleep on Houston vs. BYU for an incredible offensive showcase on Friday night or the heavy-upset potential that could be Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State. Leach offenses tend to not be super bad for three straight weeks and they were putrid for two. So...
Brandon Kiley: I’m guessing most of my fellow colleagues will take the Alabama vs. Georgia game, and for good reason. So I’ll go a different direction. The game I’m most looking forward to is Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State. After putting up 44 points against LSU in week one, the Bulldogs have struggled mightily offensively in the last two weeks. Arkansas held them to just 14 points. K.J. Costello threw four interceptions and he was replaced last week against Kentucky. Can that offense get back on track against the Aggies? That’s the thing I’m most interested in finding out this week.