With Missouri on their bye week, let’s take a moment to reset the season and use this opportunity to make the case for Sam Horn to take the reins as starting quarterback at this moment. While BK made his argument for keeping Brady Cook as the starter, I want to make this argument as an honest, rational look at Missouri’s current situation, and not just some knee-jerk “BENCH BRADY” argument. That can be found in angry threads on Twitter, or maybe bellowed out from a few rows behind you in the Faurot bleachers.
So let’s start with our first truth: The goal for any Missouri season is to make a bowl game. That is life in the SEC. You build your non-conference schedule around that goal, and your most critical conference matchups each year are against peer programs like South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky that represent the best available wins in order to get to .500. (This doesn’t mean Mizzou should be happy with making a bowl – it’s just the goal).
So, the Tigers need to win to win four more games. There are two likely wins (Vanderbilt, NMSU) and a loss (at Tennessee) on the schedule. That leaves you needing to take two of three from: at South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
This gives us our second truth: two of three is a very doable task.
So let’s map the road to bowl eligibility.
Through six weeks, Missouri sits at 2-4 with a clear-cut identity. The defense is stellar – a remarkable turnaround from last season’s accommodating efforts – and the offense lags severely behind.
The Tigers have a knack for starting out slowly and falling into an early deficit, and then working back into it with their tough defense and just-good-enough ground attack, and then falling short in the final score. Ultimately two things do them in: catastrophic plays in high-leverage moments (turnovers, special teams gaffes, critical penalties), and the defense – which has been playing uphill for the last 45 minutes – finally starts to falter.
This is our next truth: This is who Missouri is.
All four losses played out in this recipe to some extent or another. (The dam broke harder at Kansas State, for instance, and the slow start wasn’t that slow against Georgia, and the catastrophes were more catastrophic at Auburn). But this is the blueprint. In a cruel twist on Gary Pinkel’s mantra, “We do what we do.”
So how can Missouri make their own breaks, and take control of their destiny, and not just hope that this previously winless recipe will win two out of three? By starting Sam Horn over Brady Cook.
This is not to disparage Brady Cook. I like Brady Cook and I was happy he was named the starter. He is one of the Truest of Sons and is as gritty a Missouri player that I have seen in a few years. He leads his teammates, and like them, he puts it all on the line every Saturday for Missouri football. Yes, he has thrown some ghastly interceptions, but he has also extended drives with his legs, and made some big time throws as well. He is limited as a player, but he is working his dang butt off to be the best quarterback for Mizzou that he can.
But the recipe isn’t suddenly going to change with Brady Cook. So Missouri can sit back and play it safe, and hope that what didn’t work in four tries will suddenly work twice? What guarantee do you have? Better luck? Magic pixie dust? Fixing the penalties? The funny-shaped ball will bounce in your favor more times?
You have to break the glass in case of an emergency. Playing Sam Horn is the only hope you have to ditch the recipe and cook a new dish from scratch.
One of two things would happen if you play Sam Horn: He is That Guy. He is “Him.” He is who the fanbase has been sold on. Eli Drinkwitz nailed the evaluation, he’s a future star, and he shows that from the first snap. He wasn’t better than Brady Cook in August when he had been on a college campus for about a month, but he is now, in late October, and he shows it from the moment he steps on the field. He’s not as mobile as Cook, but he’s a game runner, and the field opens up with his passing ability. The offense isn’t making anyone forget 2007, but it becomes, say, 40ish in SP+ quality instead of 74th. You have given your team more margin for error, you have taken pressure off your defense, and you have drastically improved your chances of winning two of those three crucial games and making your goals happen.
The other possibility – he is not That Guy in 2022. He struggles with his reads and throws a few bad picks. The offense relies on the running game, and it’s effective; but the defense is still worn down by the end of ballgames. But there are enough ingredients in the recipe that the offense doesn’t get worse: Horn is a good thrower of a football even if not yet a good field general, the wide receivers are solid, the schedule is easier in the back half than the front half. The same recipe is used, and the Tigers are in the exact same situation as with Cook: keeping a game close and praying to the football gods for some luck.
Brady Cook should be commended for his leadership and his dedication to Missouri football. This is not so much a plea to bench Cook as it is a chance to make your own breaks. With a bye week, the soft SEC landing spot in Vanderbilt, and the three critical games ahead make this the perfect time to make the switch.
Missouri football needs to attack their goals, and not just sit back and hope to luck into making them happen. Starting Sam Horn is the last ingredient to add to the recipe.