So I know I’ve been doing this for a while when I come up with an idea for a post, then realize 30 minutes later that I’ve done it before. Four years ago, after a particularly frustrating loss to Vanderbilt, I decided that it was time for an airing of grievances of sorts. After two frustrating (if predictable) losses to LSU and Florida, with potential hope on the upcoming slate, I thought it was a pretty good time for something similar.
Here’s the intro to the post I wrote four years ago. Almost every word still applies.
It's been this way since 1999, really. I discovered Tigerboard.com in January of that year, and in the midst of the disastrous 1999 football season, because I was only incredibly annoyed but didn't think the proper plan of action was to fire everybody, then rehire them just so you could fire them twice, I was called a sunshine pumper, naive optimist, wearer of rose-colored glasses, etc. It is the way of the Internet. It was exactly the same in 2004, when Mizzou suffered through another ridiculously frustrating season. Because the negativity goes straight from neutral to nuclear, I end up almost hesitant to say anything negative because a) it might be taken the wrong way, and b) people with whom I vehemently disagree on about 90 percent of the topic will agree with me. It's not a fun place to be.
That said, let's give it a shot. With all of the proper disclaimers -- that coaches and players can be criticized or critiqued without the calling for either their heads or the second-stringer -- I'm going to talk about the things that frustrate me the most about this team right now. I encourage you to do the same.
And if you're wanting to talk about things that need to happen for this team to improve (which I encourage), please refrain from the typical "[Coach A] needs to not suck at his job" level stuff. It's annoying, it's repetitive, and it's ridiculous.
I’ll go first. NOTE: We’re only talking about the offense here. I decided the defense should have its own post, probably tomorrow.
1. J’Mon Moore is targeted too damn much.
I still like where this offense is headed. The run game has shown promise over the last two weeks (albeit with help from garbage-time defenses), and the passing game showed that if it can find favorable matchups, it can exploit them ruthlessly. At least, we’ll see if that’s still the case after the last two demoralizing games.
To be sure, in the coming weeks, Missouri will find a few more favorable matchups than it did against LSU (ninth in Def. S&P+) and Florida (fourth). Middle Tennessee ranks 78th, Kentucky 67th, South Carolina 35th, Vanderbilt 40th, Tennessee 31st, and Arkansas 62nd.
Granted, WVU ranks only 37th and shut Mizzou’s passing game down, too, but at the very least, the next two defenses will offer Mizzou a chance to find a rhythm. And honestly, I don’t have any problem with a Drew Lock-and-Marvin Zanders rotation if this past week was an indication that we’ll be seeing more of that. Hell, if they want to give Zanders the starting job, I’m fine with that, too, as long as they completely commit to it.
Regardless They might also offer more favorable matchups for J’Mon Moore. But I’ve got to say, I’m tired of him seeing as much of the action as he’s seen.
As I wrote yesterday, against WVU, LSU, and Florida, Moore caught 10 of 33 balls for 135 yards. That’s a miserable 4.1 yards per target. He’s dropping passes, he’s potentially running poor routes, and his body language is miserable.
Again, maybe this changes against non-elite defenses. But Moore needs to be part of a larger rotation. There is not a No. 1 receiver in this receiving corps, but there is a large number of players with similar levels of skill/athleticism. Leaning this much on Moore doesn’t help Missouri and doesn’t help Moore.
Granted, he hasn’t been targeted recently as much as he was against WVU, but he was still targeted the second-most against LSU and the most against Florida. And in those games, he caught two of 11 passes for 31 yards, and the man covering him reeled in a pick six on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Dimetrios Mason caught 2 of 3 passes for 20 yards against Florida. Richaud Floyd made a tough catch in traffic late in the game. Johnathon Johnson caught 3 of 5 passes for 42 yards against LSU.
I really, really like what Josh Heupel is building — to me, it’s not hard at all to see the vision here, and I like that vision quite a bit. But after last year’s collapse, the pieces aren’t where they need to be yet. Fine. Growing pains are inevitable.
But the (potential) strength of this receiving corps is in its depth and potential unpredictability. Moore’s presence makes Mizzou predictable. Having someone to lean on is preferable, but leaning on someone just to lean on them doesn’t work.
2. It’s Damarea Crockett’s time. (But we probably already knew that, huh?)
We’re getting there already. Crockett was on the field for the first snap of the Florida game, which technically means he was the “starter” even though he “still isn’t listed on the damn depth chart” (I’ll get to that in a bit).
Regardless, Ish Witter still ended up with 15 carries to Crockett’s 14, just as he ended up with 11 to Crockett’s six in Baton Rouge.
I feel like I’m driving the Witter bandwagon at times, and I feel compelled to mention that in those 26 carries against LSU and Florida, he finished with a downright solid 130 yards. He is proving he can absolutely be part of a decent RB rotation.
But in his 20 carries, Crockett gained 180 yards. He makes it through the first level of the defense far more frequently than Witter, and I’m really not sure why there hasn’t been a move to a reasonably consistent “Crockett on first and second down, Witter on third” rotation. Witter is easily the better receiver of the two. Make him a third-down guy, and make Crockett the primary rusher.
We’ve caught glimpses of a solid running game of late, and we might catch far more glimpses against lesser defenses. But Crockett needs to be the main guy for Mizzou to get closer to its ceiling. We’ve heard that Witter’s reliability — ball-handling, blocking, etc. — has been the primary reason he still sees more snaps. To my naked eye, Crockett has made up enough ground to give him the edge. And the coaches might agree, no matter what the depth chart says.
I honestly don’t have that many grievances with the offense. It was really, really bad last year, and this year’s it’s really good against bad defenses and really bad against good defenses. That’s still a step forward in my book, and there are almost no seniors playing a role. It’ll get there.
Ah, here’s a third one:
3. Come on, man. Post a real depth chart.
But that’s just a personal complaint. I feel better now, and that’s all that matters. We’ll move on.