Through seven games, the Missouri Tigers showcase a 3-4 record.
On offense, specifically, Mizzou has struggled with consistency, averaging an underwhelming 24 points per game, good for 12th in the SEC.
These numbers come despite three one-possession losses to Auburn, Georgia and Florida, respectively. For those close losses to become victories, the Tigers know their offense needs to come prepared.
Mizzou’s offense will have the opportunity to display its resiliency and bounce-back tendencies against South Carolina on Saturday. With a victory, the Tigers will improve to 4-4 with their eyes set on a bowl berth.
Before that key SEC matchup, however, Brady Cook, Cody Schrader and Dominic Lovett addressed the media Wednesday to recap the Vanderbilt victory as well as speak on the upcoming duel against the Gamecocks.
Start fasting matters, but key is to avoid third and long situations
Mizzou will enter Saturday’s game with a near-average 39% third down conversion rate, but the several of those conversion attempts come in third and long situations. If not for the lack of early down success, that number would likely rank much higher.
“I think (the key) is just putting us in manageable third downs,” Cook said. “When we get into a rhythm of getting into third and long, third and XL, it’s really tough to sustain drives.”
The inconsistency along the offensive line as well as the at-times nonexistent run game highlight reasons for this lack of success. A key to that success, as Cook said, is the run game.
“When we struggle in the run game, we tend to get in third and long situations,” Cook said. “That just puts a lot of pressure on our o-line with pressures coming in, and puts a lot of pressure on the receiver, so that run game obviously keeps the train rolling.”
Against Vanderbilt, one guy kept the train rolling for Mizzou—yesterday, he was rewarded.
The New RB1
Cody Schrader, the aforementioned workhorse, earned a promotion to the featured running back and will, as Drinkwitz said Tuesday, take the “lion’s share” of the carries.
Just one year ago, Schrader attended Truman State University, located about an hour and a half north of Columbia. The St. Louis native will now begin his journey as the RB1 of Mizzou’s offense come Saturday.
“I just think it’s a huge honor,” Schrader said. “My mindset, the way I prepare and the way I go about it, doesn’t change no matter what the difference in roles are.”
Scharder, who has 363 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 68 attempts, quietly rose to a standout performer for the Tigers after transferring in the spring.
“I can say he surprised me when he first came in,” Cook said. “Fast forward to now, it’s been awesome to see. We’ve built a great relationship and I’m super excited for him. He loves this stuff, he loves Mizzou and he’s having a blast.”
Playing in his home-state school, Schrader will have many opportunities to showcase his talents to the hometown faithful. When Saturday comes, however, he will be counted on to provide that early down success for Cook and the Mizzou offense.
Dominic Lovett shares words of wisdom
A dominant force on the football field, Lovett’s personality can sometimes take a backseat to his play, but he offered insight into his comedic-style psyche Wednesday. Here are some of his insightful comments:
- When asked what it’s like to see players like Luther Burden III receiving targets: “It just feels good when everybody eat(s), and you can see your ‘brother’ scoring a touchdown and getting up to hype up the crowd.”
- “(Burden) be playing angry on the field, but (when) I catch him on the sideline, he smiling.”
- “I just like when the stadium (is) packed ... so we can’t lean on nobody but our brothers.”
- “I see us taking baby steps in every direction ... and we keep rolling.”
- When asked what his view on Manuel’s “you lose by a lot, you lose by a little, the you win by a little, then you win by a lot” quote: “I’m going in just to get the dub ... but that’s a good quote from Martez (Manuel), I’m going to use that quote and then call it my quote.”
- “I forgot who told me this ... You can’t control the final score, you can’t control the previous play, what you can control is this play right here.”
- “(In) the second half, a lot of movie stuff happened, like did anybody peek the kickoff that just dropped? I don’t know, it was just like the momentum was in their favor and they took over anyway ... but yeah, did you all really see that ball, it just dropped.”
- “As (wide receiver’s coach Jacob Peeler) would say, ‘you got to exercise calm for the chaos,’ so just because stuff (is) not going your way at that moment ... you just got to be calm and play your normal game.”
- When asked what his career would be if he was not a football player, Lovett responded: “If I wasn’t playing football, I was going to act or be a comedian. So, if the folks in Washington ever get ahold of this, I would love to start acting if football does not work out.”
Despite the desire to act and perform comedy, however, Lovett will slide back into the receiver position for Mizzou on Saturday feeling “100%.” After a calm week in terms of receiving, he will face a challenging South Carolina secondary, looking to replicate the feat. At full health though, Lovett is ready to show them what he’s got.
“Hey, I heard (South Carolina’s corners) are nice. We just got to see mano-a-mano Saturday.”