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Yesterday was a reminder, there’s still a lot of work to be done

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A little does of reality can be a healthy thing.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Before football started up there was a general feeling about this season that whatever happened, it was just going to be nice to have football again. In playing through a pandemic, Mizzou — and College Football teams in general — accepted there would likely be a bit of a variance in outcomes. Missouri was in a particularly precarious position with a new head coach who was trying to rebuild faith and confidence through the roster. Missouri’s roster was depleted, they lacked depth on both lines, and expectations were low.

A funny thing happened in the third week of the season... Mizzou caught a string of luck and turned that into 5 wins in 6 games. But this being a pandemic year, and underlying expectation of variances, Missouri was able to take advantage of some programs in even more turmoil than their own.

I don’t mean to demean the wins, far from it. Missouri has a roster with a lot of problems. Those problems shined in yesterday’s loss, as well as the less competitive affairs against Alabama and Florida. You can only play who you’re scheduled, and Mizzou has done really well to win the games they’ve won.

But there is a big difference between Missouri and Georgia right now. Forget for a moment that the Bulldogs remain Missouri’s final and nearly (2013 aside) un-clearable hurdle in the SEC East, from a talent and roster standpoint Georgia is far and away ahead of not just the Tigers, but really just about everyone. They’ve been unsettled at quarterback, but along the offensive and defensive line, the Bulldogs are imposing. Quarterback remains the most important position on the field for a reason. Florida has Kyle Trask, a Heisman contender, Alabama has the reliable and consistent Mac Jones, and both defeated the more talented Bulldogs.

Georgia is more talented than Alabama and Florida? “You sure about that, Clark?” You might ask if your name were Cousin Eddie... but it’s true. This is from 247sports “Team Talent Composite”:

Alabama is 2nd, LSU is 6th, Florida is 7th, Texas A&M is 11th, Auburn is 14th, Tennessee is 15th, South Carolina is 21st, Mississippi State is 23rd, Arkansas is 25th, Kentucky is 26th, Ole Miss is 29th, Vanderbilt is 54th. So where is Mizzou?

So when we say there’s a wide talent gap, we mean it. Missouri’s 2021 class sits at 26th in the 247sports composite, good for 9th in the SEC. The numbers are slightly better on Rivals (20th / 8th), but only marginally. And that’s the first full class, which obviously is a positive sign.

With progress being non-linear, you still have to look at this pandemic-ravaged season as a good one for Missouri, regardless of what happens against Mississippi State (though I expect a win there... if they play). Eli Drinkwitz is a heckuva salesman, and he’s sold a higher caliber of recruit on playing for Missouri. Now he’s just going to have to do that again, and again, and again, and again. If Mizzou is winning games against the middle and bottom of the conference on a regular basis over the next few years and still losing to Georgia and Florida... it’ll still be progress.

The current roster has its bright spots, but it’s largely a hodgepodge of under-recruited players outplaying their rankings. So not only does Drinkwitz need to upgrade the talent, he needs more consistent and reliable depth. As the depth builds, expectations should rise. And while the season’s outcome has been a pleasant one, Georgia showed Missouri just how much work there is to do.

uga statbroadcast 2020
uga statbroadcast 2020

Up next is Mississippi State, or should be, anyway.

Here are your other SEC scores:

  • 1. Alabama 52, Arkansas 3
  • Tennessee 42, Vanderbilt 17
  • LSU 37, 6. Florida 34
  • Auburn 24, MSU 10

Ole Miss and Texas A&M were postponed.

Yesterday at Rock M

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