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The Revue: An unconvincing performance casts a pall of Doubt over the season

Can we ever truly know our purpose (as Mizzou fans)?

Confession time: [author’s note: I promise I won’t make this whole thing Catholic despite the movie I chose] I’ve been really happy with where The Revue is at this season.

I’ve been writing this column for the past four years and have really struggled for the better part of two with nailing down a format that I like and think works. The movie bits are fun, but can’t sustain a whole piece. The awards things were a step in the right direction, but needed some tweaking. Now though, with the Disrespect Index and Watchability rankings? I feel like we’re cooking with gas, my friends. Gas and a possibly expired Photoshop license.

So leave it to Mizzou to annihilate my rhythm three games into the new season.

This is only an easy column to write when there’s a strong emotional tie that gets developed to the game in question. A 52-24 shellacking of Lousiana Tech? Perfect! Let me riff on how Luther Burden sent a bunch of poor fools back to middle school. Get your ass handed to you in Manhattan? No problem, just do some self-deprecation for a few thousand words.

But games like Saturday’s? A (barely) three-score win over a middling FCS team? Well...

I’ve long thought that apathy is the worst enemy of a college program, mostly because I’ve been unlucky enough to experience head-on in not one but two revenue sports. What luck! You can get jazzed about success. You can get pissed about failure. But mediocrity? Well apparently in Missouri there’s a lot of stuff going on, so if you’re mediocre, more than a few people are happy to imbibe in their favorite past times such as hunting and tweeting angrily about the Chiefs.

Unfortunately, Mizzou has been in the third position for quite a long time. Eli Drinkwitz seemed like he might have the answers. But after these past two weeks? Your guess is as good as mine. And you don’t even have to write this column!

The Revue

Writing The Revue is difficult for games like Saturday for this one simple truth: I don’t generally remember movies that are boring and forgettable.

Do you know what I mean? It’s the sort of movie when, after it’s over, you think, “That was fine. I don’t particularly remember anything I just watched and I’m not sure I’ll ever think about it after tonight.” That’s how I felt about the Mizzou game, and I watched from end-to-end. So I’m not going to write about that sort of movie, even though that’s what it inspired in me.

Instead, I’m going to write about how it reminded me of another movie, a movie that appropriately carries religious imagery due to Mizzou’s opponent last week. And that movie is Doubt. How did Doubt make me feel? Weird and sad, which pretty much tracks with how I felt on Saturday night!

The last few weeks have seen the pendulum of fan sentiment swing pretty wildly in Columbia. While fan optimism was nearly at a tenure high before the Louisiana Tech game, things have taken a turn for the yikes in the past two weeks. Don’t believe me? You should see some of the emails we’re getting!

What was very recently a trusted, sturdy foundation has collapsed into a void of nothingness, leaving many of us Mizzou fans feeling a little queasy and frustrated... apologies to any of my lapsed Catholics or Evangelicals for whom this is hitting too close to home. Similarly to Doubt, in which the foundations of a church are shaken by an accusation that can’t be substantiated but whose influence spreads regardless, a few small insecurities have quickly withered away at the trust Mizzou fans are feeling in their institutions.

And... yeah, that’s pretty much it! I genuinely wish this was a funnier Revue but there was nothing funny about Saturday’s “win” over Abilene Christian. It came and it went and it made us all feel a little gross because of what we think it may portend. Here’s to hoping we’re wrong and that the institutions we hold dear can be trusted to make us happy!

Watchability Meter

If you’ll recall from Pregamin’ — which I’m sure you read, and thank you so much for that — you’ll remember that Abilene Christian is affiliated with the churches of Christ, which are notable for their insistence that baptism in water is essential for Christian salvation.

I find this funny — funny as in “ah crap,” not funny as in “ha ha” — due to the fact that I had fully planned on making a whole bunch of baptism jokes in the event that Mizzou wasted the Wildcats on Saturday. Of all the words you can use when someone/some team wastes their opponent, I think one of my favorites is a form of “baptize” or “baptism.” It’s especially good when describing a lethal dunk — “Keyon Dooling baptized Ashante Johnson in front of 16,300 worshipers tonight” — but is a pretty versatile descriptor otherwise.

Unfortunately Mizzou’s performance, much like the Churches of Christ’s soteriology, was thoroughly unconvincing. At no point did I feel like Mizzou was baptizing anyone, although I suppose you could say they were taking a massive step into troubled waters, but that’s stretching it even for the joke’s sake. Missouri hobbled through much of Saturday like a dead man walking... again, which means they could’ve used a baptism of some sort in theological terms? I don’t know, I started out the weekend hoping the baptism stuff would be funny and now it just feels weird and ominous? The fact that I spent more time thing about this bit than I did enjoying the game is pretty telling.

Anyway, Missouri gets two and a half baptism tanks out of five for their watchability over Abilene Christian. It’s up to you to decide whether that third tank is half full or half empty.

Disrespectful Play Index

It’s difficult to gauge just how disrespectful you can be against an obvious inferior opponent. No disrespect to Abilene Christian, who made life far too difficult for a team as talented as Missouri... but we don’t need to kid ourselves. There’s a massive talent deficit here, and Missouri could’ve sleptwalked through that game and still walked away with a multiple score victory. Sure, the Tigers could’ve showboated a bit, but they didn’t, which leaves the Disrespectful Play Index with a bit of a head-scratcher.

We do have one play that stands out, which earns its “disrespectful” mantle because of the absolute gall the executer had to be that purely talented. Talent deficit or not, people don’t make plays like this very often.

As a reminder, here are the six categories we use to determine how disrespectful a play was, along with the ranges of scores each is assigned.

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)

The nerve of Ennis Rakestraw! To come back after an ACL injury and do something like that with a bigger receiver draped all over him? With one hand? That may not be malicious, but it is disrespectful, my friends.

  • Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
Pretty typical screen, right? WRONG

This is pretty obviously a screen play in which No. 5 is trying to pin Rakestraw back to make space for his teammate. The pass is poor on the QB’s part, but Rakestraw still needs to fight through that pick to get to it. He manages to get a hand on it and tip into into the air, where the ball hangs for a cartoonishly long time. Then he has to fight off his grappler (more on that in Category 2) just to get in position to make the catch, which he manages to do while falling down. Do football plays get much more difficult than that? Maybe, but it’s hard to think of one right off the dome. 18/20

  • Category 2: How hard did the opponents try?

Remember when I said earlier that the receiver was grappling Rakestraw? You may think I was exaggerating. If so, look at this picture.

O Ennis, Where Art Thou?

Tell me where you think he is. I’ll give you a hint... you can’t see him. Not one piece of his being is in this frame because the receiver has completely swallowed him up. You know how in Lord of the Rings when Gollum would jump on Frodo or Sam’s back to try and get the ring? This is like that except Gollum is twice as big as the hobbits. It’s obscene. The man has completely and totally enveloped Rakestraw into the void. Our man Ennis is in the ethereal realm.

And yet, he still made the catch. 20/20

  • Category 3: How much did his teammates help?

This was about as much of a solo play as you can make. I don’t think any of them have conjuration magic — that’s a D&D joke for my fellow nerds out there — but even if they did, they wouldn’t be close enough to help him out. Ennis Rakestraw was involuntarily Houdini’d and reappeared as the only Tiger within 5 yards to make the play. Remember, we’re scoring on an inverse, so this is a 5/5

  • Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
“There he goes... there he goes again... racing through my brain... and I just can’t contain...”

My man is Gumping his way off the field. In reality, he stopped at the back of the end zone, but I respected the way he took his ball and left the field of play entirely. 14/20

  • Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
Martez with the leg kick

Another week, another “football players” are boring score here. That being said, I did enjoy how excited everyone got when Rakestraw came down with the ball. I count one, two, three, four players who raise their arms in sync. It reminded me of this beautiful moment from a Blues game.

Mizzou’s play isn’t as impressive, but it’s better than the usual football celebration fodder that we get, so we need to grade on a curve here. 11/15

  • Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?

Rakestraw’s family celebrating says it all here. Rakestraw is coming back from a major injury that derailed what was looking to be an otherwise promising sophomore year.

But there’s more to consider as well. As I wrote in MV3, Rakestraw represents something a little bigger in regards to Mizzou’s program. He was first big recruiting win Drinkwitz had at Mizzou — hell, the reaction to his commitment went viral on sports media. Rakestraw was good enough to start as a true freshman and, well, he performed like a true freshman in the SEC probably should. At a time when hope seems to be in short supply, Rakestraw’s spark of brilliance offered a glimmer of hope. If Drinkwitz’s recruits start producing like that, Mizzou will be in good shape. 17/20

Conclusion: Ennis Rakestraw, Jr.’s interception was 85 percent disrespectful to Abilene Christian.

Superlatives and Awards

Best Punt Returner: Was it ever actually in question?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Abilene Christian at Missouri

Most Improved Player: It may be a little early to determine this, but it’s hard not to think Chad Bailey is high on the list right?

And that was before he had a pass defended and two recovered fumbles against Abilene Christian!

Most Likely To... Bounce Back: Even when Thiccer is struggling, he’s thriving.