To be completely fair, the Missouri offensive line has gotten a bit better throughout the first six games of the season. They went from not being able to get anything going in the run game to now being at least passable, and that is a very good thing. This unit has its flaws, but they are absolutely capable of stringing together a few nice plays and being competent in the things that they do often like outside zone, inside zone read or the power read.
When looking at where this group struggles, it’s clear that there are issues at center. That should’ve always been expected, especially when you’re starting a redshirt freshman who is MAYBE 275 pounds. Tollison is young, so I’m willing to cut him some slack. I’m also willing to do the same for Mitchell Walters, who is still developing and in his first season seeing meaningful game reps.
It’s the experienced guys like Javon Foster, Xavier Delgado and Connor Wood who it’s tougher to have that same patience for. Through six games, this trio of multi-year starters has underachieved. Foster, in particular. This unit before the season was never thought to be a group of All-Conference players, but they did have experience and have shown themselves to be capable in the past. Through the first half, there has been a lot of whiffs, a lot of penalties and a lot of disappointing play.
Here’s a whiff from LT Javon Foster on a cut block. Luckily the run went away from his side, and it didn’t affect it, but not good nonetheless.
Here, on a pivotal second down, Foster gets beat badly on a swim move. This sets up a 3rd down and forever. It’s one thing to get beat, but it’s another to get beat this badly.
It’s not just the mistakes as far as technique goes with the offensive line. It’s the mental mistakes, too. The mental mistakes are killing an offense that, because of the quarterback/offensive line, doesn’t have very much margin for error. Of their 40 penalties this season, over 50% of them have been on the offensive line. (21). Simply put, it can’t continue if Missouri wants to run a competent offense.
With a bye week upon them, I hope this week is filled with a lot of self scouting and figuring out how they can get the younger guys up to speed but also how this offensive line can get more out of their more experienced players. Foster, Wood and Delgado have another gear they can get to. We have all seen it before.
If this offense is going to begin to meet the level of a defense that has kept them in pretty much every game so far, it’s going to start with this offensive line finding a way to play better.