♫ I’m So Sophisticated ♫
THEY’RE BACK, BABY!
This was a popular look — from what I could tell — when Missouri debuted It earlier this year, and it continues to look fresh as heck. I know the yellow isn’t super appealing to everyone, but I enjoy the mustardy look.
What’s On Tap?
We’re going to branch out a little by highlighting a drink that I can guarantee no one will be crafting for the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Florida has quite a few excellent breweries, and I hate to shirk them for a cocktail that might not be any good. But I’m too tempted by the murky green color and the on-the-nose title of Swamp Water, which sounds kind of delicious in this recipe from Difford’s Guide. Maybe it won’t work, but I’ll try anything once.
1.5 fl oz Green Chartreuse liquer
4 fl oz Pineapple juice
.5 fl oz Lime juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig.
Know Thy Enemy
Would you believe us if we said Florida is Missouri but with a worse defense? If you don’t, you’ll need to check out Nate’s preview from earlier this week.
The offensive takeaways are pretty similar to the usual, with “finish your dang drives” back as one of the staples. However, there’s a new addition this week, one that Missouri will have plenty of opportunity to do something about...
We’re five games into the season so this is no longer a bug but a feature. This team commits penalties at the most inopportune times, and on offense most noticeably. All 11 guys on the field need to make sure that the false starts, holds, and all that other junk is mitigated or eliminated so that scoring drives don’t get derailed. I hate that this is a key to the game but, well, that’s just where we are.
On defense, Missouri will have to contain a lot of high-level playmakers and, per usual, create some havoc. But Nate points out that havoc might not be enough on the road. Instead, the Tigers will have to find ways to steal some extra possessions.
We know this defense can create havoc, but to put this game away early and take the crowd out of it, the Tigers are going to need to generate some turnovers like they did against Georgia. Getting up a few scores and forcing Anthony Richardson to get desperate and throw is a recipe for a delicious Missouri victory.
All in all, Nate is feeling weirdly positive about this game. Someone should check on him, I think he may be sick.
It's been a confusing sequence of games for Missouri: blowout at Kansas State, lackluster home win against Abilene Christian, a poorly played near win at Auburn and a shocking near upset of Georgia. What should Missouri fans take away from the past month of games?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: Last season, Missouri looked dead in the water after getting thwacked at home by Texas A&M. But a run of close wins at Vanderbilt and over Florida and South Carolina gave them bowl eligibility, something that didn’t seem plausible halfway through the season. I tend to think this team is the same in the way that it is learning about itself as they go. We’ve seen the best version of this team now, and it’s one that’s good enough to just about knock off the best team in the country on the right night.
However, that takeaway is couched by the question of what the offense will do. The defense continues to get better and solidify itself as a top 25 unit, but the offense still hasn’t found its footing... and it’s fair to wonder if it will. So you’ve got a really good defense carrying a below average offense that has all the pieces to be better. There’s a bowl team in there if they can play a little more consistently.
Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: A tough question. I’ll do this in list fashion. Mizzou fans should know that we A) have a borderline elite defense AND defensive coordinator, B) have better skill positions players than previously thought, C) that the O-line and Brady Cook’s inaccuracy will hold this team back this season, and D) this team fights hard for this staff and their teammates.
More positives than negatives, and the record is not an accurate depiction of this team. Still, this may be a year that is defined by “what ifs” before a bigger breakthrough in 2023.
Levi Hutmacher, Digital Media Producer: So, this is an interesting question because I was just thinking about this as I am in the middle of my annual (maybe bi-annual) rewatch of Friday Night Lights. With how the season is going so far, it reminds me a lot of season four of Friday Night Lights, when — SPOILER ALERT — Coach Eric Taylor takes the head job with the East Dillon Lions hoping to get a program off the ground. The season is full of losses, but there was a point in the season where hope was renewed. And that was the game against top-ranked, undefeated McNulty. The Lions had the game in their hands but just couldn't get it done. From this point on, their confidence was restored and they had a renewed sense of fight for the remaining games.
To me at least, there has been a trend with Mizzou in the past few seasons where they turn it on halfway through the season. While I think this season hasn’t featured anything unsurprising, the outcomes have been interesting. I’m hopeful for the future and let’s see if the Tigers can find confidence and fight to finish out the year strong just as those fictional Lions did.
Missouri heads to The Swamp this weekend, one of the SEC’s most revered stadiums. After one decade in the SEC, which opponent’s stadium do you most fear visiting? Why?
Josh Matejka: Missouri has had tough luck in Death Valley and Bryant-Denny, which qualify as the SEC West’s bastions of intimidation. But I’m not sure if Missouri has quite solved Neyland Stadium quite yet. Yes, they won 51-48 in their inaugural year over the hapless Derek Dooley Volunteers. But the Vols are good again and have spanked Missouri the last few times they visited Knoxville. It’s hard to feel good going anywhere on the road in the SEC, but I get especially bummed out watching Missouri play amongst the horrid orange glow.
Parker Gillam: Death Valley. It’s a cliche answer, but walking into that place at night is a death sentence. Tennessee lucked out not playing them in primetime this weekend, because the one time Mizzou did play there, they lost 45-7 (2016). The Swamp, Neyland, Samford and Bryant-Denny all are honorable mentions, but the intimidation of Death Valley does it for me.
Levi Hutmacher, Digital Media Producer: Aside from Georgia and Alabama, I am going to have to say Kentucky. Only one win in Lexington since joining the SEC. For whatever reason, Kentucky just has Mizzou’s number and that place scares the hell out of me. As far as Florida goes, they’re all bark and no bite. Sure, Florida has won the majority of home games against Missouri there, but I feel like they talk the talk more than walk the walk.
After an opening week upset over Utah, Florida has been mostly fine, dropping two games to Top 15 opponents, scraping by against South Florida and handling Eastern Washington. Where does Billy Napier’s team fit in the SEC East?
Josh Matejka: They’re not going to beat Georgia and they didn’t beat Kentucky or Tennessee, so we’re already looking at fourth as a best-case scenario. They’re certainly more talented than Missouri (as they always are) but that hasn’t really equated to much success against the Tigers in the past decade. At this point, I’d say Missouri, Florida and South Carolina are all in a battle for that fourth spot, with Florida taking the slight edge because of their talent level. However, until Napier gets them back where they probably should be, they’re always going to lose at least one game that they shouldn’t. I’ll say they end up fifth in the East this season.
Parker Gillam: They’re going to be a competitive team in nearly every game they play (I think UGA will defeat them easily), but they are going to be just a step away from getting anywhere over 7 wins. Anthony Richardson still has 2-3 years of development as a quarterback in this conference and the defense is mediocre in most facets. Still, they’ve got enough talent to compete with most teams on their schedule and win 1-2 games they shouldn’t. I’ll give them a 4th place finish in the East this year, and we’ll say 7-5 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
Levi Hutmacher, Digital Media Producer: I am gonna have to put Florida in the fourth spot until I see them play Missouri. If Mizzou is able to knock them off at home? Then they slide down to fifth, just above Vanderbilt and South Carolina. I think they have potential, but they’re not quite there yet. And since week one, they haven’t looked too scary to me.
PICK ‘EM! Missouri is a 10.5-point underdog as they travel to Gainesville, but they’ve proven they can hang on the road and against better teams. Does Missouri pull the upset against the Gators? Which players are key to making sure that happens?
Josh Matejka: Missouri absolutely can win this game — their defense assures that they can beat anyone if the offense comes to play. And with Florida’s defense being what it is, I have to imagine Saturday at the Swamp will be close. However, I’ve always been firmly in the camp of not calling it until I’ve seen it done. And until Missouri’s offense proves it can come through in close games, I can’t pick them on the road against a more talented team. I’ll say Florida edges the Tigers 20-16, with the Tigers getting the last drive that’s stuffed around midfield.
Ty’Ron Hopper will have to have another monster game if he’s going to upset his former team, and he’ll have a chore in containing Anthony Richardson. And not to be the guy who’s going to jinx things, but I think there’s a Luther Burden game coming in the near future after a few weeks of calm. Why not in Gainesville?
Parker Gillam: I’ve got a bad feeling that this season will be characterized by close losses. I think the Tigers cover, but the atmosphere at The Swamp will get to Mizzou in the fourth quarter. I also just don’t necessarily love Brady Cook in an environment like this against a secondary that gets Trey Dean back this week. 24-17, UF wins.
In terms of who is key for this game, my biggest question mark is who replaces KAD. Marcus Clarke and Dreyden Norwood will get the bulk of the snaps, but fans underrate how big of an impact Abrams-Draine has had thus far for this team. Richardson does not throw it a lot, but the Gators may pass more this game with KAD out.
Levi Hutmacher, Digital Media Producer: Lovett potentially being out, as well as KAD, really puts a damper on things here, but I am an optimist until proven otherwise. Should I have been proven otherwise by now? Sure! Do I care? No! There is no telling which Mizzou we will be getting on Saturday, but I am going to believe they find it deep within themselves to get it done. I see Peat and Schrader having massive games as Eli leans on the run against Florida’s mediocre rush defense with Lovett probably out. And then Luther having a much needed, better-than-average game, scoring a TD in the first half.
On the defensive side, containing the QB will be the name of the game, in my opinion. And I think Blake Baker is more than capable at drawing up game-winning scheme.
LET’S GO, MIZZOU. The Tigers pull it out 27 - 17?