Mercifully, we have reached the bye week.
It’d be one thing if this specific season was an absolute slog. You know the ones I’m talking about. I’m thinking about seasons like 2016, when Mizzou put the boots on Eastern Michigan and Delaware State, but were punted out of Death Valley by LSU before dropping four straight in Barry Odom’s first season. At some point you can respectfully bow out of a season like that — politely watching and maybe even having some fun along the way while investing nothing emotionally.
And then you have seasons like this one.
There’s an alternate universe somewhat close to ours where Mizzou is 5-1 and ranked... I don’t know, in the top 15? Even with the shellacking in Manhattan, Mizzou should’ve beaten Auburn at the very least. And upsets over Georgia and Florida are not outside the realm of probability — not with a semi-functioning offense or a few lucky bounces of the ball, at least.
You may already know this, but writing about a team like this is difficult, even as they slowly give us more reasons to be optimistic in defeat. You can only say so many times, “They’re not awful, but they’re just a few steps away from being good,” and things of that nature. Oddly enough, it’s very similar to watching a very bad team. No one wants to write or read, “this team sucks,” for very long. The only thing that’s fun for all parties involved is success. You never get tired of hearing, “This team does not suck!”
For one week, at least, we get to pretend like this not-sucking-not-succeeding team isn’t on our radar. Of course, they will be because we’re all gluttons for punishment after all. But maybe we can find fleeting moments of happiness when the spectre of Mizzou Football and its near misses don’t haunt us. Maybe we can start here, in The Revue.
Or, then again, maybe not.
I’m not going to use this as my anti-corporate media soapbox (even though I kind of just did) but the Marvel movies can absolutely go to hell.
OK, not all of the Marvel movies. Thor: Ragnarok can enter through St. Peter’s gates, as can Black Panther, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Infinity War can amble through during last call, and I guess The Avengers can sneak in on a technicality. The rest of the lot? Straight to the sulfur pits with you. I’m tired of desaturated color palettes, zero stakes and Joss Whedon-y dialogue.
This weekend’s game against Florida reminded me of all the things I’ve come to hate about Disney’s soulless churn of superhero mythology, but more specifically about Age of Ultron. Armed with some of the most iconic characters, charismatic actors and impossibly wealthy budgets of all time, that is what you decided to put on the table? A lifeless, meandering plot with not even a spark of originality or flair? Just mediocre CGI for 150 minutes? It’s like watching a college football team with explosive, dynamic recruits choosing to run screens and fake going for it on fourth down and... well, you get it.
Truthfully, I started thinking about Age of Ultron around the third quarter when Florida retook the lead. At that point, I knew where this game was headed. I knew the Gators would go up by a score or two. I knew Missouri would battle back to make it closer. I knew the defense would give the offense another shot at tying it up. And I knew the offense would squander said chance for any number of familiar reasons (bad play calling, penalties, overthrown passes, you name it.) Sure, the build up to the inevitable wasn’t without its pleasures, like Mekhi Miller converting third and longs again and again and again and...
But ultimately, the third act was schlocky and messy and made me feel bad that I had invested time in watching it. Of course, I’ll keep returning to this source of pain because the University of Missouri has conditioned me to do so. Hopefully, though, this team will give me a reason to care again before I fully give myself over to the apathy (and sometimes antipathy) I feel for Marvel and its gray lumps of digital movie vomit.
★☆☆☆☆ for the game, ☆☆☆☆☆ for Age of Ultron, which I get angry about when I remember liking it in 2015
Have you ever been on an airboat? I haven’t, and I’m kind of pissed about it.
Airboats have this quality of bringing out childlike wonder in me and, it would appear, in others. One of my favorite episodes of Archer makes me think so, anyway. Just imagine: boats (objectively awesome) and gigantic fans (objectively awesome) and smashing them together in a completely unnecessary (or as Sterling Archer would say, “awesome and ass-kicking”) nature. Boats run just fine on motors and rotors, but why rely on technological efficiency when Njǫrd, Norse god of the wind, is on your side?
Anyway, Mizzou’s trip to Gainesville had all the potential makings of an airboat-esque display. Upset wins (objectively awesome) and beating Florida during Homecoming (objectively awesome) smashed together in a swampy cocktail of delight. Mizzou’s series with the Gators has already been decidedly Floridian in nature — you look at this box score and tell me God watches over Gainesville — so why not add something colossally stupid and awesome like Mizzou beating the pants off Albert and Alberta (author’s note: already not wearing pants) during their most disappointing season since the Barry Odom era?
Alas, it was not meant to be. As mentioned above, the game script felt predictable from the third quarter, and there was nary an awesome and ass-kicking moment in sight. Sure, the Tigers revved the engine a few times, but they were never able to get the giant fan roaring to life. I can’t, in good conscience, give them any more than one and a half airboats out of five for that.
Disrespectful Play Index
Back in week two, I had the opportunity to rip the bandaid off in the sense that this section of The Revue was never meant to solely highlight Mizzou-positive plays. In fact, that week’s play was one in which Mizzou got embarrassed on a punt return, one of the most classically disrespectful plays you can make in football. Who still gives up punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns? I didn’t even know that was allowed anymore!
However, there is still one wall we have yet to breach, one that arguably presents the biggest challenge for me, the writer. We’ve seen “Mizzou disrespects the other team” and “the other team disrespects Mizzou.” Now, my friends, we will journey into the unholy land of “Mizzou disrespects itself.” Normally, I wouldn’t opt for this route at the risk of seeming like I, lowly blogger, was actively disrespecting one of my fellow True Sons. But sometimes the cleat fits — I have to call them like I see them. And I saw some disrespect toward me and my fellow fans on Saturday. Only fair that I call it out.
As a refresher, these are the categories we’ll be working with.
Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play? (0-20)
Category 2: How hard did the defense try? (0-20)
Category 3: How much did his teammates help? (0-5)
Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward? (0-20)
Category 5: How did everyone not involved react? (0-15)
Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider? (0-20)
And the play in consideration...
Brace yourselves, folks. And if Brady Cook and his family are reading this, please don’t email me, unless of course you’re sending me Sugarfire coupons.
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
I’ll spend a few hundred words on this section because it’s my god-given right to ramble on, but I think the “picture’s worth a thousand words” adage fits here.
You can draw a straight line from Brady’s eyes to the Jaydon Hill’s. The very definition of pitch-and-catch. I get that this is a quick-hitter to one of Missouri’s most talented receivers, but there has to be some level of awareness here, right? This screencap occurs about a second after the ball is snapped, and it’s already painfully obvious that Burden won’t be in a position to catch this ball. Dump it off, man. Scramble to get some yards (or god forbid, the first down!) Don’t just throw it right to the guy who looks like he’s been waiting one thousand years for a ball to be thrown right at him.
The prompt for this category is how difficult the play is to make. For Hill’s part, there’s almost no difficulty at all. He must think he’s invisible given the ease with which he steps in and takes this ball to the end zone.
The difficulty on Cook’s part, however, is far greater. I’m not a Division I quarterback. I never had the potential and I will never be... unless of course I hit my Brandon Weeden stride soon. However, I’m fairly certain that Division I quarterbacks should be able to read plays this obvious. That’s not to say they will all the time, but the degree of difficulty for missing a read like this has to be substantial. We’re looking at a high score here. 18/20
- Category 2: How hard did the opponent try?
Hill is already running at full speed when the ball isn’t even halfway to Burden. I already mentioned pitch-and-catch above, which is shooting myself in the foot because this would be the better time to use it. Hill is like a missile defense tool, intercepting a pigskin headed straight for its target, unaware that it’s about to be picked off mid-flight. It was what he was programmed to do, to pick off balls like this and run them back for a score. One of my most used football phrases is, “Well, that’s why he’s a cornerback/safety,” when a defensive back shows off his brick-like hands. But Hill doesn’t even have to use his hands here. He simply absorbs the ball into his being during his uninterrupted jaunt to pay dirt. It’s just about the easiest six points he’ll ever get. 7/20
- Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
Let’s check in during the immediate aftermath of the pick to see how much help Hill needed in getting to the end zone.
OK, OK, no one within three yards of him, very nice...
Poor Cody Schrader. Looks like he’s a living statue. Stuck in the mud. Frozen in time. Man hasn’t taken his first step yet and Hill is already a good four yards clear. The longer I stare at this picture, the funnier it gets. I really like Cody Schrader, and he’s proving me wrong with every passing week. But he looks like a statue of a sprinter lining up for a 100-meter dash against the man he was modeled on.
Anyway, Hill didn’t need any help from his teammates. Scoring on the inverse (as we always do in this category), we’ll give this a 4/5.
- Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
Mizzou is lucky on this one. Perhaps reflecting the amount of effort he had to put into the pick in the first place, Jaydon Hill simply runs across the end zone with his finger in the air, a vintage football celebration if I’ve ever seen one. The problem is this... how many touchdowns has Hill scored in his career as a defensive back? You finally get the opportunity to take a house call, and this is your response? My guy, you have to do better than that. High step it. Lambeau leap. For god’s sake, CHOMP! 8/20
- Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
YAWN. Camera guy is asleep and doesn’t catch any fan reaction. Players simply crowd around Hill and congratulate him. Cook and the offense trudge back to the bench ahead of receiving the imminent kickoff. Cook, in fact, helps his score by not slamming his helmet or yeeting an armband 30 yards into the crowd, though that certainly would’ve been more entertaining. 3/15
- Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?
Not so much. Cook’s decision making has been problematic this season, and the pick-six may have been his lowest moment — to be honest, I’m not sure how it gets worse than this. Coming into the season, however, one of Cook’s reported strong suits was his ability to make good decisions and provide steady game management. We were counting on him to be, in essence, Connor Bazelak with more athleticism. That has been the case, though unfortunately with the 2021 version of CB and not the much preferred 2020 model. 10/20
Brady Cook’s pick-six was 50 percent disrespectful to Mizzou and its fans.
Superlatives and Awards
Least Likely To Chomp: Literally every Gators’ player (unless I missed something). Have we finally seen the end of the SEC’s most annoying celebration?
Most Miserable Florida Fan: Spencer Hall was going through it on Saturday
Imagine having the internet’s only college football podcast and willingly choosing to root for Florida. Couldn’t be me!
Most Heartwarming: The Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. comeback story continues to fuel the hopeful fire in my soul.
Least Likely to Watch College Football this Weekend: Me. See ya, nerds, and let’s go Blues!