If you watched the SEC Championship game yesterday you saw two heavyweights take the field and put on a display in passing. Two stout rushing defenses limited the run games. Alabama ran for 115 yards with a long run of just 15 yards and an average of 4.4. The Georgia Bulldogs ran for 109 yards with a long run of just 14 yards and an average of 3.6.
Considering Bryce Young ran three times for 40 yards, it should give you a hint that the Crimson Tide didn’t win with anyone’s legs, including those of Youngs. They won with his arm. Because Young can sling it the rock.
It helps having some dudes to throw to like Jameson Williams (Cardinal Ritter in St. Louis, hello) and John Metchie (who went down with an injury in the first half and didn’t return), but you’ve still got to give those guys the ball with room to run. And Young does that really well.
But Alabama isn’t alone in regard to knowing the importance of Quarterback play. Iowa has built a system that wins a lot of games. Elite level defense and a stout running attack can win you a fair amount of games, but can it win you the big games? Well last night they got blitzed by Michigan, a team with two Quarterbacks. Ohio State keeps winning at a high level, churning through draft-able QBs like Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud. Cincinnati got Desmond Ritter to come back for another year and he boosted them into the playoff. And Kenny Pickett has helped Pitt to an ACC Championship.
In Missouri’s best years they were led by really good quarterback play. I don’t have to tell you that, you all know it. Chase Daniel is a legend in Columbia. Most of you can still rattle off each starting quarterback over the last 20+ years and rank them on program impact. When Mizzou has soared it’s been behind the arm (and sometimes legs) of an elite quarterback. Even Drew Lock elevated some pretty mediocre Missouri teams and made them appear much better than they were.
Which is why it’s so important for Eli Drinkwitz to get the Quarterback situation right this offseason.
Missouri’s season isn’t over, there’s still a bowl game to play. But there’s 8+ months of work ahead to get the position straightened away.
I’m not writing this as an indictment of Connor Bazelak either. I know he’s taken some heat on this site over the past year, and his play has left a lot to be desired, but I do believe that you can improve at the position over time. I have no idea if Bazelak can turn around his play, but I do think it’s tough to stop a trend. Bazelak has been trending downward all season. If he’d have been staying steady, perhaps you think he can start to improve again. But when you see not just regression, but a steady downward trend.... it’s concerning.
Next season Missouri will have a receiving corps which will include the number 1 wide receiver in the country in Luther Burden (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but that’s pretty cool), along with a healthy Mookie Cooper, and a more experienced Dominic Lovett. Along with Tauskie Dove, Chance Looper, and JJ Hester. Missouri should have plenty of playmakers available for whoever is behind/under center.
But if the program is to take the next step forward, they need the Quarterback to be better. Stetson Bennett wasn’t bad for Georgia, but he was just bad enough to put the Bulldogs behind the eight ball. Georgia was up 10-0, then leading 10-7 they went 3 and out with Bennett missing just enough on a throw to Adonai Mitchell to kill the drive. Then on the next possession he had two incompletions with his team down 14-10.
Bennett wasn’t bad. He was ok. But in those moments you need more than okay, and Bennett just wasn’t it. It’s the same general sense we get watching Connor Bazelak. He’s had several baffling and poor decisions in important moments, but other than that he’s been just ok. And for Missouri to take the next step as a program, they need to find better than ok, they need to find their next guy.
Maybe it’s Brady Cook, maybe it’s Tyler Macon, might be Sam Horn. Either way, the next 8 months are important. Imagine having Jameson Williams and John Metchie on your roster and not having a good way of getting them the ball? You don’t want that to be the case next year.
Here are your College GameDay scores:
- 3. Alabama 41, 1. Georgia 24
- 2. Michigan 42, 13. Iowa 3
- 4. Cincinnati 35, 21. Houston 20
- 9. Baylor 21, Oklahoma State 16
- 15. Pittsburgh 45, Wake forest 21
- Utah State 46, 19. San Diego State 13
- 24. Louisiana 24, Appalachian State 16
Yesterday at Rock M
- College football GameDay: info, where to watch, predictions, betting odds
- Offensive Progress Report: What’s gone wrong early for Missouri?
- Missouri heads to Waco for a major road test/ LIVE GAME THREAD
- Mizzou learns its Bowl Destination today
- Lila Bromberg covered the Mizzou Women’s narrow road loss to Baylor, look for Lauren Rosenberg’s commentary soon.
- Mizzou Swim & Dive demolished Missouri State, as it should be. If you haven’t already, check out Parker’s story on Swim & Dive and how they’re really really good.
- If you’re looking to sign up for ESPN+, Rock M Nation now has an affiliate link: click Here for ESPN+ Now!