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That wasn’t so bad, was it?

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The Tigers fall to Alabama 38-19 but...like...a good 38-19

Alabama vs Missouri Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/ Getty Images

Sometimes you set the bar so low that something, anything, can clear it with ease.

Other times you set the bar low and are pleasantly surprised.

As much as you can learn from playing the best team in the country, Missouri showed some life, and fight, as it took on the greatest modern-day college football dynasty. There were some bad moments, true, but the Tigers covered the spread and continued to fight until the end.

To wit:

  • Shawn Robinson had the highest completion percentage of any starting Missouri quarterback in his first game since 2000, 76%
  • That 76% completion percentage is the first time a Missouri quarterback has finished with that high of a percentage, with at least 10 passes, against a P5 team since 2008.
  • The offensive line was not an absolute mess the entire time, giving up only three sacks to Alabama
  • The defensive line generated pressured and — gasp — got two sacks
  • Devin Nicholson lined up all over the front seven and finished with 10 tackles
  • Martez Manuel, a safety, had 3.5 tackles for loss
  • Ennis Rakestraw was pretty sticky, broke up some passes, and only got burned once
  • Our thicc kicker (thiccker?) Harrison Mevis was perfect on the night, including 2-2 on field goals, including one from 37 yards.
  • Missouri outscored Alabama in the second half, 16-10

Everyone I just mentioned is eligible to be back next year, NCAA-mandated eligibility freeze aside.

Were there mistakes? Yeah, it was the first game for a new coaching staff with young guys against the greatest college football coach of our lifetimes. The secondary got beaten badly several times and the defense was incredibly inconsistent when generating pressure. Shawn Robinson, at times, was just too damn insistent on going full-Mahomes and magic-ing a play to happen. And the coronation of the next Danario, Keke Chism, was completely erased by a young ‘Bama secondary.

But that’s what young teams do. They screw up and keep fighting.

Look, it’s a long season. This was one game of ten and they’re all going to be grinds like that. And if you’re scoffing and saying “uh, yeah, whatever there’s Vanderbilt” they just gave Texas A&M a run for their money while Mississippi State, the last team on the schedule, beat the defending national champs by ten. In Baton Rouge.

It’s going to be messy and frustrating and there will be moments of incredible joy and moments of dumbstruck frustration, but this is the life of following a young team. Mr. Rogers said that, when things are scary, look for the helpers; well, when a team and staff is brand new and young, look for the little things. Look at the unique formations that Drink draws up. Watch the execution of the line. See how the linebackers and safeties read the play. Watch the effort of the special teams. There are little W’s you can notch on the path to improvement, even if the whole of the effort is an L.

Look for the fighters. They’re out there learning, and improving, to make it all worth it.