Confidence is high following Georgia
Mizzou entered Saturday night’s narrow loss to the then-No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs with little to lose. Instead, they shocked the Bulldogs and nearly pulled off this season’s greatest upset behind aggressiveness on both sides of the ball.
The result has reshaped the Mizzou locker room, giving them an indication of what they could be not just in the future, but right now.
“We can beat anybody in the country,” Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook said. “And there’s not another game on the schedule that we can’t win.”
Cook, who finished Saturday’s game with 192 yards on 20-32 attempts with one touchdown, echoed the thoughts of defensive coordinator Blake Baker in yesterday’s presser. The game also proved how talented Mizzou’s roster can be on a given day.
“(The Georgia game) set the bar of where we are and how we’re going to practice,” wide receiver Mookie Cooper said. “We got to have confidence and (be) ready to go compete.”
Cook’s development is trending upward
Throughout a majority of training camp, the focus for Cook looked to be winning the starting job. With that in hand and five weeks of football down, Cook has progressed into one of the loudest voices in the Mizzou locker room.
“Now that (Cook) is ‘that guy’ and has a couple of games under his belt, you start to see him be more of a vocal leader in practice,” running back Cody Schrader said. “Especially during games, just seeing how he leads more on the sideline, the way he talks ... so I think his leadership is fantastic.”
Alongside his leadership, Cook’s confidence looks to be strengthening as well. Despite facing a fierce Georgia rush, he did not throw an interception or commit a turnover. Instead, he connected in several deep routes and displayed glimpses of the passing game that hadn’t connected much before.
“I think I’m just starting to see the game a little bit slower and starting to slow down,” Cook said. “(I’m) starting to make throws that I need to make and I think I’m starting to develop all around ... it’s all areas in my game (where) I’m learning so much.”
Cook mentioned a few keys areas of growth, specifically when he is scrambling. With the game slowing down for the young quarterback, he has been able to make stronger decisions on when to throw the ball and when to scramble, creating more havoc for the defense. Although small, it’s these changes in his game where growth matters.
True freshman Arman Membou providing immediate impact
“(Membou’s) just such a talented player, such a hard worker,” Cook said. “I really love having him out there. He makes some incredible blocks and he has made some incredible blocks in the game.”
The first-year offensive lineman out of Lees Summit, Missouri, has impressed along the offensive line. He’s primarily being used as a sixth blocker up front, providing extra protection for Cook and opening up the line for the running back committee.
So far, the transition for Membou has been enjoyable.
“It’s been pretty fun,” Membou said. “It’s definitely a big change from high school, but it’s really cool and a blessed opportunity.”
“Especially getting work from our defense every day in practice and having got a little bit of experience in game, I feel my confidence is pretty good.”
Facing arguably one of the nation’s top-20 defenses, Membou has had the opportunity to match up against some of the SEC’s best, just in practice. The experience is beginning to pay off and the extra support along the offensive line is needed after the pressure Mizzou faced in its first few contests.
- “(Florida’s) going to be an athletic team,” Cook said. “No. 1 (Brenton Cox , Jr.) is a great end and I’ve got to make sure my reads of him are perfect ... I think No. 3 (Jason Marshall, Jr.) is a great corner, so they have some great players. Structurally, it’s nothing we haven’t really seen before.”
- “I talk to myself a lot, really,” Cooper said when asked about his improvement. “I just try to make myself lock-in and coach talks to us about taking pictures of the ball, just focusing on the ball as it comes to you.”
- “I think just starting fast in general, but yeah, we definitely got to be better in our execution, being able to execute on third downs,” Schrader said on what needs to improve.
- “I think I've always had that confidence within myself,” Schrader said. “It's just been a moment of when it was going to happen.” On his 63-yard rush against Georgia
- “It’s so great,” tight end Tyler Stephens said when asked about his touchdown catch. “I’m taking it day-by-day, opportunity-by-opportunity, and I knew when the opportunity came I had to seize it.”
- On the atmosphere: “It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Stephens said. “I couldn’t ask to be in a better position and I thank God for the opportunity ... I just hope it’s always this way, it’s amazing.”
- “Production is across the board for everyone,” Stephens said. “We’ll get more opportunities as we make more plays.”
- “I’ve worked a lot with Javon Foster, working with him after practice,” Membou said. “Connor Wood, I’ll watch practice with him, and you know, Zeke (Powell) being the guy in front of me, I always like to watch him.”