We’ve talked ad nauseum about Missouri’s offensive line and quarterback not meeting expectations in their play, and unfortunately, this week against Kentucky was just another example of that.
The offensive line had yet another day to forget. They absolutely couldn’t open up lanes in the run game and the offense ran 31 times for a combined 91 yards rushing. Pass protection was an adventure as well. They struggled with stunts and pressures and Brady Cook was under duress most of the day. And after the injury to EJ Ndoma-Ogar, things just got worse as they struggled to make adjustments. (I’ll cut them a little bit of slack for that one.) For all of the complaints about the officials — which are extremely valid, by the way — at the end of the day, Missouri’s offensive line didn’t play well enough to win an SEC football game.
Brady Cook, on the flip side, wasn’t very good, either. For three quarters, he was inaccurate, skittish and frankly, just missed far too many open guys. There were other miscues we’ll get to in a moment, but for three quarters, Cook had the entire stadium pondering out loud if there should be a quarterback change. To his credit, in the fourth quarter, he found a way to move the ball and put some points on the board, but the totality of the self-inflicted miscues outweighed the late game surge from Cook.
Symbolic of it All
The sequence right before half felt symbolic of how both the quarterback and offensive line haven’t gotten it done this season.
First, Missouri tries to draw Kentucky offsides using what feels like the one and only formation that Tyler Macon is ever allowed to be on the field for. They motion him from receiver to under center while he does a hard count. They still haven’t ran a play using it, so for opposing coaches, this is an easy tendency to spot on film. That’s the first problem. Kentucky never moved, wasn’t fooled and Missouri had to burn a timeout.
After the timeout, you see Brady Cook line up under center and receive this quarterback sneak:
The interior offensive line has zero answer for the Kentucky defense coming up the middle to stop the sneak. There are several offensive linemen who you can see are trying to block with a high pad level and are getting absolutely no push. Then you see Brady Cook is standing almost straight up trying to run into a wall of defenders. He’s got to find a way to get down lower and find some sort of space to run through.
Then, on a smaller level, you can see Cody Schrader in the backfield take a few steps to the left to try and simulate a pitch. Unfortunately, no one reacts. I don’t know if that’s a coaching point or a mistake, but usually the running back in the backfield will be behind the quarterback in order to be the designated guy to push the ball carrier forward.
This was a critical play that could’ve led to a scoring opportunity, but the inability to get one yard killed it all. It was symbolic to the larger issues on this offense and even to the season as a whole. It was a series of backbreaking mistakes that led to Missouri pissing away what was an awesome opportunity to get points.