I love when Mizzou takes it easy on me. I wish they’d do it more often.
Writing about the Tigers is fun and all, but sometimes I feel like I’m entering a Lovecraftian plane trying to describe the different fashions in which they screw up or lose. This year has been a cacophony of calamities, a cornucopia of misery and woe. Here are the movies I’ve compared Mizzou losses to this season.
The Happening, a movie that I’ve seen people go cross-eyed trying to explain
Doubt, a movie about deep religious trauma and the ever-present danger of structural abuse, perfect for comparing to football
Now You See Me, a dramedy about magicians, which is really a self-own now that I think about the fact that I actually watched a dramedy about magicians
Glass, a movie that made me hate Samuel L. Jackson for a brief period in time
Without a Paddle, a stoner comedy starring Seth Green, Matthew Lilliard and Dax Shepherd! I’m not kidding, THEY MADE THAT MOVIE
How much longer until I have to start reaching deep into my bag? When do we go fully inaccessible and start comparing Mizzou games to Antichrist or Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom? I don’t want to do this, friends, but I fear Mizzou will continue to come up with increasingly terrible ways to lose. I may be left with no other choice.
Thankfully, this is not the week. This week was easy. This week Barrett Banister was a star, Luther Burden scored two touchdowns and none of us had to worry about who was calling plays. It was smooth sailing from minute one... or what’s the ice trekking equivalent of sailing, because I heard it was hella cold. (Editor’s note: it was.)
Sometimes you don’t want to overcomplicate things. You don’t need drama. You don’t need palace intrigue. You just need a party.
Such was the case for Missouri on Saturday evening when they welcomed New Mexico State to Columbia and proceeded to have a good old-fashioned (as in early-mid aughts) romp. From minute one, the outcome felt inevitable, meaning the tension could ease and the performances could feel a little more raucous. Toss a long TD to the Horse? Hey, that’s fun and unique! Give BJ Harris and Tavorus Jones a few carries each? Sure, why the hell not? Turn Sam Horn loose for precisely one drive and absolutely no longer? Eli, you mad lad.
To be honest, I probably won’t remember anything from Mizzou’s 45-14 win over New Mexico State. I’ll probably remember writing this column more than the game itself, to be truthful. It was one of those games that Mizzou has played and won my entire lifetime, a nothing burger of an outing that stacks the number in the win column, lets some of the brand-name guys run up their counting numbers and gives the youths some extra run.
In case you couldn’t tell by the Photoshop, its caption or the dek on this piece, it reminded me a lot of Old School, a perfectly pleasant and very funny comedy that I remember more for what came after it than the movie itself. I remember my life changing by the second as Will Ferrell plowed his way through Anchorman, Step Brothers and The Other Guys, even if I don’t remember all that much about Frank the Tank other than him smashing stuff with a hockey stick and screaming, “c***, balls,” at a child. I remember Vince Vaughn turning purple while he yelled “HOT ROUTE” at Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers more than I remember Beanie doing... I don’t know, electronics sales? And I remember Luke Wilson for doing just about everything else in his career other than being the know-nothing milquetoast in the middle of this comedy. But did I enjoy it in the moment? Sure!
And sometimes that’s enough. Lord knows this Mizzou team doesn’t need any more drama and Mizzou fans don’t need any other reasons for their blood pressure to spike. One goal line fumble to lose a game is enough bad beats for a full season, not to mention the missed chip shot that happened earlier in the game or the umpteenth questionable call that sent Missouri to another loss against Kentucky. Screw dramatic tension, man. Just give me Luther Burden III putting guys through a turnstile or Will Ferrell hounding a senior citizen to the point of death, and I’ll be content.
Next week’s game will undoubtedly be far more tense than this past week. I’m fine with that — I’ve accepted that life as a Mizzou fan and writer will never be breezy. But every once in a while, I just ask that the stakes be low and the vibes be immaculate. Is that too much to ask?
★★★★★ for the game, ★★★★☆ for Old School which is dated but a really good hang nonetheless
If you’re here, I don’t think I need to explain the significance of the Rock M. Our namesake is a bedrock (HA!) of Mizzou heritage, a tradition that nearly all students participate in and all football players literally get to take home with them when they depart the program.
The Rock M is an essential part of the Mizzou Football experience, especially during home games. It’s a beacon of midwest fortitude, a quality so desperately needed to be a fan of a program like Mizzou’s where shit like this and this and this and this and this and this happens with frightening regularity. Despite being the least comfortable place in Columbia to watch a football game, it’s an immensely comforting presence.
Saturday night was the type of game that felt like a bedrock win. Yes, even in Missouri’s most fallow periods, they’ve always beaten overmatched teams like New Mexico State. But the way it happened — put to bed early and never in question — combined with the personnel who executed it — both veteran leaders and wobbly youth — made it feel like a game of the programs past, one in which upperclassmen handed the reins over to a new generation of Tigers hellbent on one-upping them.
This isn’t to get too sentimental about the recent past. Missouri hasn’t finished above .500 in nearly four years. It won’t be terribly difficult to outmatch this senior group in on-field production. But it was heartening to feel that, for an evening, this group was leaving something better than when they found it. For that, I’m giving this five out of five rocks from the Rock M.
Disrespectful Play Index
I can feel us entering the Luther Burden era as I type.
Aaron Dryden’s column yesterday summed up Burden’s freshman season pretty well. Despite feeling up and down, the actual impact of having Burden on the field has been massive. He’s been the “touchdown maker” that Drinkwitz talked about when he was first hired, leading the team in scores while only getting the fifth most touches. Not only that, he’s making dudes look so silly whenever he’s on the ball. So silly. Don’t believe me, revisit some of this season’s Revues, because he’s coming up a lot.
Saturday was almost entirely about the program veterans who made Missouri’s win look and feel pretty easy, but Burden easily had the night’s most disrespectful moment. Not surprising, I know. Wherever he goes, Burden disrespects defenders. He’s been doing it his entire career from high school to CoMo. Why let the old heads spoil his fun now?
As a reminder, here’s the scale we’re grading with.
Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play? (0-20)
Category 2: How hard did the defense try? (0-20)
Category 3: How much did his teammates help? (0-5)
Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward? (0-20)
Category 5: How did everyone not involved react? (0-15)
Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider? (0-20)
And here’s the latest example of Burden ringing someone’s bell... as in multiple bells.
Burden hurdles a defender for the first TD of the game on the 12-yarder from Cook.— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) November 20, 2022
MIZ 7, NMSU 0; 1Q - 6:14
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
Eli Drinkwitz loves the short side of the field. Maybe I’m too football-dumb to understand why, but the man loves to put his best playmakers in the least amount of space and say, “Make me proud, do something with nothing.”
Regardless, it looks awfully good whenever it’s pulled off. Burden is working with some very small margins here, even if he’s pretty well covered up by his blockers. The momentum of the throw, however, prevents him from hitting the most amount of space inside, instead opting for the outside of the play which is essentially right down the sideline. You need to be massively talented to turn that sort of play into a score. I suppose it’s a good thing Luther Burden is massively talented, then. 18/20
- Category 2: How hard did the defense try?
To be fair, Burden gets a fair amount of help from his teammates, so we’re getting a small sample size here. It’s hard to judge the “effort” of two players who are looking up at a future NFL receiver hurdling them like small anthills on a playground.
Thank goodness for Trevor Brohard, though. Remember him, the guy that Nate talked about in last week’s preview? Brohard really tried to stop this play from happening, trailing Burden all the way and even attempting his own hurdle. It’s actually pretty shocking when you look at the image above. Burden is at least two heads higher than Brohard past the peak of the jump. I can’t blame Brohard, who indeed does appear to be Walter White’s jacked, mulleted cousin, for trying, though. In fact, the effort is going to give Burden a higher score! 17/20
- Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
This one is hard to score. The play itself is helped quite a bit by Burden’s teammates, who create a pretty good seal through which Burden can move forward. If you look at the final hurdle, there are two Aggie players flat on their backs, setting up Luther for his deceptively difficult hurdle. If you’ve read any of the Revue, you know I’m a sucker for players taking calamitous spills onto the turf.
However, the play itself doesn’t come from Burden following his blockers. Instead, he bounces to the outside to get a better angle at the end zone. Had he stayed inside, he probably would’ve been tripped up too early or maybe even caught mid-air during his leap. I can’t score too high in this category because the rest of the offense did their job, but Burden shouldn’t be penalized too heavily for making a smart move... even if it was outside the boundaries of the play. Let’s split the different and call it square. 2.5/5
- Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
I’m still trying to sort out what exactly this signature celebration of Luther Burden’s is. I asked the Rock M crew and haven’t heard anything thus far. Maybe it’s him securing the bag, just in a different manner than Drew Lock?? Not sure, but I don’t mind LB3 finding a celebration that is versatile and unique to him. Maybe this is generous, but I’m going 16/20
- Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
Nothing will ever top last week’s scolding-that-wasn’t. I’m still thinking about it.
Anyway, nothing to report here. A few nondescript crowd shots and celebrations with other teammates. 5/15
- Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?
I don’t know, that Luther Burden whips ass everywhere he goes? 11/20
Luther Burden’s touchdown was 69.5 percent disrespectful to New Mexico State. Nice.
Superlatives and Awards
Best Feel-Good Moment: How can you not root for Jalani Williams, man? Former blue-chip recruit and local star who’s really struggled to find consistent playing time. So what does he do on Senior Day? Grab a back-breaking interception.
Man it’s been a long time coming, Thank you to the man above https://t.co/ApKhkJk86m— Jalani Williams ⁴ (@jalaniw9) November 20, 2022
Most Improved: It has to be Brady Cook at this point, a player who spent the majority of the season getting lambasted online for his faults and failings. But in the past few weeks, Cook has turned into the player Mizzou needed all season, a dual-threat game manager capable of producing a few show-stopping moments. It’s a shame he hasn’t played this well all season, but there’s still something to play for and Cook can play a big role in making it happen.
Least Likely to Get a Day Off: Mizzou’s trainer. Yikes.
Coach Drinkwitz updated the media about the #Mizzou players that didn’t return and didn’t provide any further comments. He did mention he knew Hopper, Charleston, Banister, KAD and McGuire would not be able to return to the game after their various injuries. @KOMUsports— Luca Vitale (@TheLucaVitale) November 20, 2022
Is it bad when four of your most important defenders are hurt?
Most Likely to Succeed: We’ll close it out with a traditional superlative, and it has to go to Barrett Banister. I just know that man is going to succeed at whatever he does. Future St. Louis Battlehawk, perhaps???