Not everyone has failed a test. A lot of us have, but everyone has had that feeling of a failed test. Whether it was Algebra, an interview, or a date; at some point we’ve all had that feeling. You showed up, there were expectations and you did not meet the minimum level of expectations. You failed.
Such was the situation yesterday in Manhattan, Kansas. Eli Drinkwitz took his Tiger Football team on the road to face an old conference foe in a game many Mizzou fans had circled as a test for the level of progress Drink and his program have made. And guess what... they failed. The final score was 40-12. It was only that close because Mizzou added 6 with no time left on the clock, and even that was thanks to a K-State fumble with just over a minute remaining to go at their own 20 yard line. Mizzou’s ensuing drive was extended by timeouts and a stupid roughing the passer penalty before they were finally able to punch the ball in.
To its credit, the Mizzou defense held for most of three quarters. But by that point the offense, the same offense led by the Head Coach, had managed just 6 points. That’s four punts and three interceptions in three quarters. And those three interceptions occurred on three consecutive series. The defense did its job until it couldn’t any more.
By that point they knew they weren’t getting the help they needed and the dam broke. The score went from 20-6 to 40-6.
The defense wasn’t gashed. They only gave up 336 yards of offense, and 122 of those came in the 4th quarter. But offensively, Missouri failed the test. Just 222 yards of total offense,
Drinkwitz has been a good marketer, and by recruiting standards he’s done well to build up the baseline of talent on the roster. And while the defensive coaching staff has been a bit of a turnstile, there’s enough reason to think that the trajectory is still headed in the right direction.
But to call the game yesterday anything less than a failure is doing a disservice to everyone involved.
The offense needs to do better, the program needs to do better, and Drinkwitz knows he needs to do better.
But it is just one test.
It’s not good to fail a test. And Mizzou failed yesterday. But there will be more tests. Each week is a new one, and the goal for this year isn’t to win the Eastern Division, or play in a NY6 bowl game. The goal this year was to make progress.
Progress isn’t measured week to week, but season to season. Next week Mizzou plays Abilene Christian. The Wildcats are 2-0 after beating Lamar and Prairie View so far this season. I expect them to be 2-1 when they leave Columbia after the game next week. But the next real test is in two weeks when the Tigers travel to Auburn.
Auburn is not a good football team. They’re not a bad one, but they’re also not in danger of cracking the top 25 any time soon. There’s always turmoil on the plains in Alabama, and that presents another opportunity for Missouri to make progress.
Because I don’t think yesterday’s game will mean much until it turns into a trend. Cuonzo Martin was let go of his position because the trend wasn’t good, not because of one or a few games. Barry Odom was let go for the same reason. Drinkwitz is not in danger of being let go this year because we mostly think the talent level and the trends are still pointing upward. You continue to make that case on a regular basis.
We’re getting better. The progress is there. Step by step. Results change, sometimes slightly, but they improve. You keep that train moving until you break through.
This is the vision. There’s 10 more games to keep showing the level of progress we all want to see to fully buy in. For now it’s one failed test.
For tomorrow, well, that’s in the hands of Drinkwitz and his coaching staff and roster. Keep it moving forward.
Other SEC Scores:
- Alabama (1) 20, Texas 19
- Georgia (2) 33, Samford 0
- Appalachian State 17, Texas A&M (6) 14
- Kentucky (20) 26, Florida (12) 16
- Arkansas (16) 44, South Carolina 30
- Tennessee (24) 34, Pitt (17) 27 — OT
- Ole Miss (22) 59, Central Arkansas 3
- Wake Forest (23) 45, Vanderbilt 25
- Auburn 24, San Jose State 16
- LSU 65, Southern 17
- Mississippi State 32, Arizona 17 as of 1:10am