For one of the first times all season, the offensive unit pieced together several consistent drives, including three touchdown drives that featured a combined 26 plays for 228 yards in the first half. If not for the Mizzou defense, which struggled for one of the first times all season, the outcome could’ve been much different.
Looking ahead, the Tigers will have an opportunity to make that change with remaining games against New Mexico State and Arkansas. The Aggies, who allow 26.1 points per game, are the first obstacle to a bowl berth, and they will face off with Mizzou in frigid temperatures at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
With that crucial game on the horizon, quarterback Brady Cook, offensive lineman Javon Foster, wide receiver Tauskie Dove and defensive back Martez Manuel met with the media earlier this evening to give their takes on where the Tigers stand.
Martez Manuel talks about his time at Mizzou
Last weekend, Martez Manuel announced his decision to commit to this season as his last for the Tigers. A Rock Bridge alum and Columbia native, Manuel has meant more to the community and team than most Mizzou players of past, but it’s the same community and program that has provided the former three-star recruit with opportunities.
“This school has taught me so much as an athlete,” Manuel said. “It taught me that relationships can really last a long time ... it taught me that life isn’t fair. I feel like that’s kind of a harsh way to put it, but I’ve been here four years and been .500 every year.”
From the start of the 2021 season, Mizzou is 21-24. The Tigers have consistently played at an average, or below-average, level without much hope for anything outside of a bowl berth. While disappointed, Manuel said it’s something that taught him lessons, especially about fighting through adversity.
Facing yet another season of mediocrity, it’d be easy for Manuel and others to give up. The opposite is being done, however, and that positive thinking is one lesson that the senior is instilling upon the those around him in the locker room.
“I’ve told them that success is right around the corner, and if you’re climbing a mountain and you can’t see the top of it ... then you give up and start walking back down, you never know that if you just took a few steps to the right and kept going, you’re at the top,” Manuel said.
“I have no doubt in my mind that next year and years to come that Mizzou’s going to be a powerhouse.”
These wise words are just a fraction of what the Tigers will be missing when Manuel plays his last game in a Mizzou uniform. Whether that be against Arkansas or in a bowl game, the fans should be sure to make his presence a point of emphasis when the Aggies come to town Saturday.
Tennessee taught Tigers both positives and negatives
A 42-point loss never bodes well for a team in search of a turnaround, but the lessons that Mizzou took away from its loss to the Volunteers are plentiful, just hear from all of the players today.
- “We didn't play to our standard,” Javon Foster said. “We did move the ball some, but that still wasn't good enough ... I feel like we could have gave them a lot better run and actually won the game, if we would have played our standard.”
- “I feel like we liked the use of some veterans, me and (wide receiver Barrett Banister),” Tauskie Dove said. “I realized that we actually put us to use a little bit against Tennessee, and I feel like if we were to do that throughout the season, it’d be a little bit different.”
- “We learned that we need to execute better on offense,” Brady Cook said. “We made too many self-inflicted wounds and just silly penalties pre-snap ... we need to score late in the game to keep ourselves in it.”
- “We got to start our games faster,” Manuel said. “Get lined up better, (control) the tempo more, we learned a lot of lessons.”
Each player highlighted a different aspect of the game, emphasizing the importance of coming together as a strong and cohesive unit. As for the controllable mistakes, the penalties will need to be cut down upon, while execution on early down plays will remain vital.
New Mexico State doesn’t boast the most impressive defense, but the Aggies will provide a challenge if they can capitalize on a few turnovers and use Mizzou’s pace of play against them. The Tigers, as nearly every player said, will need to learn from those mistakes and use that as momentum to take down New Mexico State and set them up for an opportunity to play for a bowl berth against Arkansas.
Weather to Play a Factor Saturday
That’s the low temperature for Saturday’s game against New Mexico State. Adding to the cold, which has been present all week, is the 15-25 mph winds projected throughout the day.
While game-time itself will likely feature a temperature in the mid-20s, the wind will likely make Saturday one of the colder games in recent memory. Luckily for Mizzou, however, they’ve had an opportunity to adjust.
“That is an advantage to us,” Manuel said. “The fact that we do have days (to prepare) and Saturday’s not the first day that we don’t know how to handle this.”
New Mexico State, on the other hand, will be journeying to a much cooler environment than they’re probably used to.
“It’s pretty cold out there,” Cook said. “I mean, we’ll be ready. I don’t know what the weather is where (New Mexico State) is from, probably not this cold though.”
These past few days have given players the opportunity to prepare and adjust to the temperatures, which is something that Mizzou head coach Eliah Drinkwitz has emphasized at practice. For Manuel, the opportunity has given himself a chance to find the best way to adjust to the cold.
“I had the most success today,” Manuel said. “(I) put some icy hot on my hands, then put on some latex gloves, then football gloves, one pair of socks, toe warmers, another pair of socks, and like three shirts and two tights...and I was still cold. I’m going to try again tomorrow and Friday to find the perfect method for Saturday.”
- Senior Javon Foster relayed his intentions for next year, saying “I’m still not all the way decided (on) what I’m going to do yet, but I’ve still got that year (of eligibility) left, so I’m just weighing my options right now.”
- “(We’re) not going to have 60,000 fans in the stands, so we got to bring our own energy,” Manuel said.
- Foster referred to true freshman offensive lineman Armand Membou as “a beast” and said he will likely step up into a captain role in the future.
- Cook, on the other hand, had one answer when asked who he sees stepping up and becoming a captain in the future—”Cody Schrader.”
- Cook also mentioned that he has not started recruiting for any of the seniors to return next year, but that process will begin soon after Arkansas because there are a few members that’d he’d like to have back.