Individually, there’s some really nice takeaways. For example, Nick Bolton is still phenomenal. Racking up 17 tackles, no matter the result of the game, is an impressive feat.
Larry Rountree III is an elite running back in the SEC. Through two games against high level competition, and with an (at times) suspect offensive line, Rountree is averaging just under five yards a carry. That will play.
Those two showcased themselves so well, they were earning praise from the local beat in Knoxville:
After watching Mizzou again in person today, I’ll say again that Larry Rountree and Nick Bolton are fantastic players and would help any team. Those two are dudes.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 4, 2020
In addition to those two anchors, there were a lot of of positives coming from freshman QB, Connor Bazelak. He showed a nice zip on his ball, delivered it accurate and on time, and showed a willingness to push the ball down the field. He had one mistake on the day in that interception, but at that point in the game, he was trying to force a play. These are all things you can and will have to deal with when starting a young quarterback... More on that later...
Oh, and another week, and another sack for our guy Trajan Jeffcoat. He’s been a pleasant surprise in a badly needed spot.
Drops. Drops. Drops.
You can’t be an average to below average football team and expect to win games when you can’t make your routine plays. You cannot drop passes on third and intermediate with a new quarterback. You can’t drop 84 yard touchdown passes that hit you in the hands when your margin for error is so small.
I understand guys don’t set out trying to drop passes, but this is something that I would bet is reinforced in practice this week. Five dropped this week, and five dropped last week. That’s a pattern. I would bet that they’re going to drill that into the heads of the pass catchers this week.
Also, as mentioned in my last edition of Three and Out, Jarrett Guarantano’s ability to use his legs ended up hurting the Tigers often. It wasn’t a lot of scrambling per se, but the occasional scramble with a few quarterback sneaks really hurt the Mizzou defense. The Mizzou defense struggled getting by that productive and experienced offensive line for the Vols. It was a day to forget for the defense as a whole.
This QB competition is getting ugly. At least in my eyes it is.
I want to acknowledge that I don’t have the benefit to watching these guys in practice everyday, but at the same time, it’s hard to acknowledge what is very obvious to most Mizzou fans. Bazelak just seems better.
He seems more poised, more in control, and the arm talent is obvious and it seems like he has a rhythm that most freshmen just don’t have. He’s stretching the field, and making the defense respect his arm, and in turn that helps take guys out of the box for Rountree and Badie. Good things just seem to happen when he is in the game.
I don’t see the defense respecting Robinson’s arm like that. For all of the strengths that Robinson has over Bazelak, (dual threat, experienced, etc.) he hasn’t gotten quite the opportunity to showcase all of it. That’s not all his fault. There are a lot of moving parts with this team, and to be fair, Robinson could’ve just had a bad day.
However, what I see with Bazelak is more about him and what he can do, and less about what Robinson can’t and doesn’t do. I see arm talent and poise that is so substantial that you can actually build around him and let him work to his mistakes. The last Mizzou quarterback to be given the reigns as a freshman was Drew Lock, and I’d say it turned out well for him. That isn’t to say that Bazelak is going to become Drew Lock, but the arc of their careers absolutely could be.
If you ask me, it’s time to stop messing around and give Bazelak the keys to the car.