Everything is so weird.
Three weeks ago it seemed like we were just going to be dealing with a full on reset, then Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz made a few changes to the game plan, threw everything he had at LSU and reminded us that watching football can be fun again! Now, after a fairly thorough domination of Kentucky, Missouri fans are imagining all kinds of scenarios... including the fact the Tigers control their own SEC East destiny (which is true).
A wild in-season swing shouldn’t be that surprising considering the circumstances surrounding the season itself, but it’s still a clear win for the program to navigate the weirdness and come out with consecutive wins.
Drinkwitz has navigated things as well as you could ask a coach in just his second year running any program, and his first in the SEC. What might be most impressive is the change from game to game. Against LSU Drinkwitz emptied the playbook early to keep LSU off guard, and against Kentucky the gameplan flipped to a line-up-and-pound approach.
Missouri controlled the line of scrimmage, which isn’t easy to do against Kentucky. Mizzou held the ball for a whopping 43 minutes and 10 seconds of game clock. That’s over 71% for the game, or nearly three quarters overall. Thats nuts. But my favorite stat might be this one:
Early on Mizzou controlled the game by controlling the field. Their average starting field position was their own 19 yard line, while Mizzou started on their own 34. Plus, Kentucky’s first three possessions went:
- 3 plays, 6 yards, PUNT
- 6 plays, 18 yards, PUNT
- 5 plays, 14 yards, PUNT
On their fourth drive they got to 43 yards gained and netted a field goal. But then two more 3 & outs. The Wildcats LONGEST drive was their second... that 18 yard scamper which took about 3 and a half minutes. From the start the Mizzou defense was dictating what the Kentucky offense could and couldn’t do, and they couldn’t do a lot.
This Missouri team is proving to be both resilient and adaptive. The resilience was something Mizzou teams under Barry Odom struggled with. And the adaptiveness is important because Drinkwitz doesn’t have his full program installed. He’s still working with a roster full of guys who aren’t his, and he’s been able to put forward two wins with completely different game plans. That bodes well for the future.
Mostly because Missouri isn’t ever going to be Alabama, or even Georgia. They’re never going to show up on a weekly basis and be the most talented team in the stadium. Sure on some nights they’ll be that team, but even at their best they’re working from a deficit versus the upper half of the SEC. If they can be more creative, adaptive, and resilient on a weekly basis it’ll give them ample opportunities to elevate the program. Showing those modes against LSU and against Kentucky have given a glimpse of what this program can look like with more time invested in its foundation.
If Missouri can find ways to win games now, if should give you hope that as Drinkwitz and his staff fill in holes with the players they want, things can go even a step further.
Here are your other SEC scores:
- Alabama 48, Tennessee 17
- Auburn 35, Ole Miss 28
- LSU 52, South Carolina 24
Florida, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M all did not play.
Yesterday at Rock M
- Missouri vs Kentucky football GameDay: info, where to watch, predictions
- In the Huddle: Mizzou needs to avoid a letdown
- Gamethread: Mizzou beats Kentucky
- Tigers Reverse the Curse, beat Kentucky 20-10
- STORY: The Tigers Take Down the Wildcats
- Five takeaways from Missouri’s first victory against Kentucky since 2014