On Saturday evening, Missouri played arguably its most complete game of the season, taking care of the Gamecocks 23-10. Brady Cook had his best game of the season, as he was 17/26, 224 yards, and a rushing TD. Cody Schrader embraced the bulk of the carries, amassing 81 yards on his 22 attempts. Dominic Lovett proved why he’s one of the premier receivers in the conference, with 148 yards on 10 receptions.
The Missouri defense continued its impressive play, holding the Gamecocks to just 171 yards through the air and 32 on the ground. D-Line Zou made its return, with 24 total pressures that resulted in 4 sacks. The secondary played exemplary coverage and Dreyden Norwood even got his first interception as a Tiger. So yes, I’d say this was the most complete game of the season for a team that has struggled to find rhythm and consistency
Missouri is now back to .500 and it has four games left on its schedule. Three of the four are winnable games, Tennessee being the outlier. Here are a few reasons why a bowl game seems a little more hopeful down the final stretch.
We can trust this defense:
The Missouri defense is good, like really freaking good. Blake Baker has taken a defense that was catastrophic in 2021 and has turned it into one of the conference’s best. Here are the statistics from this year’s defense:
- Points allowed: 23.1
- Rushing yards per game: 111.4
- yards per carry: 3.82
- passing yards per game: 173
- yards per play: 5.03
For comparison’s sake, here is the 2021 version below:
- Points allowed: 33.8
- Rushing per game: 227
- Yards per carry: 5.32
- Passing yards allowed: 206
- Yards per play: 6.38
So no, it’s not an understatement to say that the turnaround is drastic. The incorporation of the “STAR” position has paid dividends and the complex blitz packages have made this defense into one that the opposition fears. The Missouri defense held its own vs formidable opponents such as Georgia, Florida, and surprisingly Vanderbilt, who has a fairly decent offense. The best part is that the defense just seemingly gets better each week.
The offense has (maybe) figured things out:
I am emphasizing maybe, because the South Carolina game was a solid performance, one that Missouri can and should build off of. In the game on Saturday, Missouri fed Cody Schrader 22 times for 81 yards, while also letting Cook use his legs 11 times for 53 yards. Missouri has seemingly realized that its best chances of winning come on the ground and also mixing in swing passes to Dominic Lovett. Unfortunately, at the moment, that’s the majority of the offense, which is fine. As long as the defense can continue its extraordinary play, that’s all Drinkwitz needs to be running. Brady Cook showed the ability to make the right read on the option and Schrader has proven that he can be the workhorse going forward.
Offensive line improves:
I’ll keep this short because it doesn’t need to be an essay. Simply put, the offensive line looked much improved against the Gamecocks. Brady Cook had time in the pocket and was only sacked once and Schrader had holes to run through. EJ Ndoma-Ogar got the start at RG and played well, so that could be a reason why the unit looked better. The offensive line has been one of the glaring issues on this team, so if the unit can even be serviceable, Mizzou can finish off the season on a happy note.