It really depends on what kind of Mizzou fan you are as to how you handled the events as they unfolded last night. The positive types probably thought Mizzou would win before the kick off, the negative fans didn’t even turn the game on for kick off, maybe checking in on the score a few times from their phone. But there’s a large range in between, and if you’re like me you were happy it was competitive... but you expected it to end with Georgia walking out with a win.
Don’t get me wrong, I had fun last night. Watching the game unfold you even let those positive feelings creep in. I was enjoying myself enough to pour a nice whiskey and try to do some writing on my Ole Miss Basketball preview, and let it all sink in.
But even as the game went into the 4th quarter and Harrison Mevis kicked a 56 yard field goal, to go 5-for-5 on the night by the way, to put Mizzou back up by 10 points I still expected Georgia to win.
I don’t know exactly, but it just felt like it was all fun in the moment. But I knew it wasn’t going to last. Maybe it was how the Bulldogs looked more settled in the second half. They had cleaned up the mistakes and weren’t giving the ball up. With my knowledge of this specific Mizzou team, I know the Offense struggles and Georgia has a good defense. I know the defense has looked good, but it’s hard to keep the energy up all game long. And Georgia has some weapons.
But really, it was that moment when Mizzou went 3 & out to start the second half. I thought... yeah. The Tigers were fighting, they were playing fast and strong, but they weren't quite ready to pull this win off.
What it wasn’t, was some sort of Mizzou fandom malaise. Thinking the Tigers would be Mizzou’d or whatever the correct spelling on that verbiage would be. Mizzou didn’t get Mizzou’d. They didn’t execute as well as they needed to in order to beat the top ranked team in the country. I’ll let folks wallow in the way last week unfolded, but last week wasn’t this week.
This week was about missed opportunities when you needed to be perfect. Last week was about screwing up the bare minimum to beat a team who isn’t good.
Looking ahead, it feels like we’re at a fairly important crux for the season. Missouri may not be a good team, but they’re certainly not a bad one. A bad one isn’t able to hang with the best team in the country. The Tigers were bad at Kansas State, and they were merely themselves in the other three games. Against Georgia they were more fully formed than they’ve been all season.
Which is why it’s an important crux. What do they do next?
The 2022 season was always supposed to be a building block. We weren't looking for a team who could compete for an SEC East championship. We weren’t looking for a team which could make a NY6 Bowl game. We were just hoping for a step forward.
After four weeks, it did not look like a team taking a step forward. After five weeks though, you start to think... well maybe Kansas State was a blip, and if they just finish the Auburn game, this is a 3-2 team with a narrow loss to Georgia. Maybe this is starting to work itself into shape.
I had a short thread on twitter last night where I said this:
As an analytics guy, my only thing is this:— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) October 2, 2022
Play the way you've played this last half more often. Preferably play this way in the second half, but if you play the rest of the season the way you played that half... this team will be fine.
Maybe I was one of the few people who answered Dan Keegan’s excellent poll about being in a state of zen or freaking out around halftime, as being zen-like. But I was. I had modest expectations entering the season, and beating number 1 Georgia at home in the 5th game of the season isn’t on that list.
What I want is for this team to be better.
Play better. Play harder. Play together.
Analytics isn’t just a numbers game. It’s about data points and forming an opinion based upon as many points of data as you can collect. What anti-analytics people don’t understand is that In person scouting and watching games, those are data points. Yards per play, tackles for loss, those are also data points. Figuring out what teams and players do well with numbers and with video and with watching them play are important.
This Missouri Tigers team is really inconsistent, most of the inconsistency comes from the offensive side of the ball. Offensively it seems many of their issues stem from problems on the Offensive line. Defensively they’ve been good, Mevis, outside of the one thing, has been Mevis. Punting has been fine. But every unit needs to get better. And so if you’re taking stock on this season, the big trick will be if Missouri can carry the momentum from nearly beating the best team in the country into actually beating other teams who aren’t as good.
The next FOUR games are all winnable. Florida is average. Vanderbilt isn’t good. South Carolina is barely ok. And Kentucky is good, but far from great.
For Eli Drinkwitz and his 2022 Missouri Tigers, the story isn’t over. Who they are is going to be determined over the next four weeks moreso than the last four.
Other SEC Scores:
- Alabama (2) 49, Arkansas (20) 26
- Ole Miss (14) 22, Kentucky (7) 19
- Mississippi State 42, Texas A&M (17) 24
- LSU 21, Auburn 17
- (from Thursday) South Carolina 50, South Carolina State 10
- (Today at 11:00 am) Florida vs Eastern Washington
- Vanderbilt, Tennessee both in byes