It seems an eternity since Bill wrote this piece about the return of hope to the Missouri football program.
Give me pain like last night over the listlessness of 2015 any day of the week. It means we’re part of the game again.
I still felt that way after the LSU loss two weeks ago. Sure, the feeling might have dimmed slightly, but - believe it or not - it was kind of easy to write off that loss. LSU is a good team that came to play with a lot of energy post getting-their-coach-fired. Mizzou is a young team that wasn’t prepared. It happens. Let’s move on.
But this... this is much harder to shake off. Yes, Florida is a very good team. They were probably going to win this game even if Missouri played well.
But is that an acceptable caveat two weeks in a row? There’s apparently no such thing as a moral victory, but there is a sort of satisfaction in losing a when you played well. After the Georgia game, I was livid. And after that passed, I was hopeful.
But after this? Well. I feel listless.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
1. Take a breath
This is frustrating. To all of us. Fans, boosters, players, coaches, etc. But the answer to this current frustration isn’t, “Fire Odom/Heupel/Cross/etc.” And if your response to that is, “No one feels that way,” you’re wrong. People definitely feel that way. They’ll always feel that way when this kind after these sorts of embarrassments. It doesn’t really go further than that. Six games doesn’t call for major changes.
2. The problem with pacing
It is, however, officially time to start questioning the pacing and construction of this Missouri offense. When the hurry-up offense isn’t working, switch it up. Run the ball with commitment. Try something - anything - else. Don’t commit to drives that keep your defense on the field longer than it needs to be. And maybe that does mean making some personnel changes.
MU's defense has been on the field for 70.7% of the past two games. That is unsustainable.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) October 15, 2016
What in God’s name has happened to Drew Lock? This isn’t the Drew Lock we saw in the first three games of the year. This isn’t even the Drew Lock we saw last year. His talent is so obvious, it hurts to watch what has happened over the past two games. He’s hesitant. He’s jumpy. He makes infuriating decisions. He misses wide open receivers.
I’m not football savvy enough to diagnose his problems. But something is clearly wrong, mentally or otherwise. I believe he should still be the starter moving forward, because he’s the more talented QB. But how do you not open up the Zanders debate at this point?
Second point: Zanders is currently playing Florida's backups.— CYBERTIGER (@OscarGambler) October 15, 2016
4. Start. Damarea. Crockett.
I’ve been riding this train all year. Crockett is far and away this teams most explosive, physical runner. And the hurry-up is quickly losing its luster, making Witter’s pass-blocking ability less appealing. It’s far past time to accept Ish Witter for what he is and recognize what he isn’t. There shouldn't be any reason at this point for him to be getting more rushes than Damarea.
5. ...now what?
I’ve never loved the “Jekyll vs. Hyde” allusion that permeates discussion on confusing teams. It’s an easy comparison, and oftentimes the problems are far more nuanced.
But I think it’s apt moving forward. How are Mizzou fans supposed to have any idea what to expect from this team moving forward? It’s dominated two weak opponents. It’s been crushed by 3 good opponents. And it played moderately well against the one in between. My thought all year has been this team is good enough to win 6 games (Vandy, UK, SC and Middle Tenn. included), but I’m not so sure how to feel about those games anymore. Missouri has dominated weaker competition and failed to step up against better opponents. That may be a symptom of a young team, but I’d venture a guess it’s also a symptom of ineffective coaching.
Really, I’m not mad. Frustrated sure, but the past two games haven’t made me angry. If anything, I’m afraid. I don’t want to go back to the listlessness and apathy of 2015. But if my Twitter feed is any indication, that’s the direction this team is driving its fans.