Mizzou Football was looking like it would finally get the road monkey off the back of its head coach Eli Drinkwitz. As the clock wound down, Brady Cook completed his best pass of the day with an expertly dropped in 37 yard pass to Dominic Lovett, landing the ball inside the 5 yard line with under a minute in regulation and the game tied. Victory looked all but assured. All you had to do is not screw it up, and...
Mizzou screwed it up.
From the moment the call on the field was confirmed after review by the officials, everything else went wrong. From the decision to kneel it down twice, to the missed kick, all the way through the overtime debacle. It was all bad.
Considering the beginning and the end, the middle was at least surprising if you consider recent trends.
After two offensive possessions at the start of the game, Missouri was already down 14-0. They had netted 3 total yards of offense on six offensive plays, and an Interception. At that stage of the game, I think many Mizzou fans were figuring out exactly what the buyout is on Drinkwitz’s contract. For the last two seasons (and for many more before that), Mizzou had to watch their team take the field and look completely outclassed on the road. It felt like we were going to watch K-State version 2.0, or Georgia, or Tennessee, or Mississippi State, or Florida, or Kentucky, or... well you get the idea.
But a funny thing happened. They turned it around. They tied the game on back-to-back drives. Two drives and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense settled down and locked up the Auburn offense. 12 punts later (and only 4 which went more than 3 plays) and it was still 14 all. After an Auburn turnover on downs, Cook made the plays he needed to make to win the game. A 13 yard run, back-to-back completions to Lovett and Barrett Banister, and then the 39-yard dime down the sideline.
I don’t understand football coaching decision-making at times. Your defense has been smothering Auburn since the second possession of the day. Robby Ashford wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t good. Once the ball was on the 3 yard line with 49 seconds, just hand the ball off and run straight ahead and try and score a touchdown. There was a timeout called to review the passing play, so pull in Cody Schrader or Nathaniel Peat and tell them, “Run straight ahead and keep driving your legs and hold onto the football with both arms.” Do that twice and if you don’t score a touchdown you take a timeout and kick your field goal.
Look, Harrison Mevis missed the kick. And then Nathaniel Peat’s fumble at the goal line in overtime is crucial and heartbreaking. Both players should have won the game. Mevis should have made the kick, and Peat should’ve been able to hold onto the ball with both hands and let the chips fall where they may down at the 1 yard line. I understand trying to make a play and screwing it up. Mevis was trying to make his kick and missed. Peat was trying to score a touchdown, and missed. But deciding to dance and kneel when you can just run forward and try to score makes little sense to me. I tend to give players a bigger break when they’re trying to do something, versus a coach who is trying NOT do to something.
If you score and give Auburn the ball back, they would’ve had at most 30-35 seconds to score a touchdown with no timeouts. And while there’s always risk in any decision, I have to feel like even with Mevis being nearly perfect throughout his career, I’d rather just try to run it in. Maybe you fumble then, maybe you get a penalty, but you’re trying to do something. It’s much more forgivable.
Resilience - Noun— Kevin Pendleton (@KevinP_71) September 24, 2022
⁰the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
This hurts… but I love this team. Your choice, splinter or galvanize.#MIZ
With most of that said, Mizzou looked like the better team after the first quarter and through the rest of the game. For all the hemming and hawing about the kick and the fumble (and the near interception, plus the offsides penalty), for a quarter and a half, Mizzou had six straight punts and only once did they have a possession get past three plays. That one gained 14 yards on 5 plays. While the defense was dominating Auburn’s offense, Cook and his offense were spinning their wheels all while Luther Burden had zero touches.
The issue continues to be the offense and its inability to collect yards with consistency. Scoring is difficult because of that. Moving forward the schedule doesn’t get easier. Georgia and Florida are up in the next few weeks. 2-2 is very likely to turn to 2-3, and then 2-4 is certainly possible. Mizzou has won in The Swamp before, but the Gators have Anthony Richardson, who has proven he can get the ball to his playmakers. Cook, as well as his Head Coach/Playcaller, need to do a better job of getting the ball into the hands of their own playmakers.
After Lovett’s catch the game should have been over. But a lot of college coaches, and football coaches in general, let their conservative nature and a need to control everything overtake their decision making.
Other SEC Scores:
- Georgia (1) 39, Kent State 22
- Alabama (2) 55, Vanderbilt 3
- Kentucky (8) 31, Northern Illinois 23
- Texas A&M (23) 23, Arkansas (10) 21
- Tennessee (11) 38, Florida (20) 33
- Ole Miss (16) 35, Tulsa 27
- Mississippi State 45, Bowling Green 14
- LSU 38, New Mexico 0
- South Carolina 56, Charlotte 20