clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A win is a win is a win: Takeaways from Missouri’s victory over Vanderbilt

New, 4 comments
NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

“Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.”

That’s what I’ve been telling myself a lot over the past few Saturdays. Apathy is a salve I’ve attempted to deny myself while watching these Missouri Tigers. It has clearly set in among the fan base: Yesterday’s win, the first SEC triumph in more than 13 months, barely cracked 50,000 in attendance.

But apathy doesn’t work for me because it’s a shielding mechanism. Yes, the losses won’t sting as much, and I’ll be able to enjoy what’s been a wild college football season largely unencumbered by the pangs of woefulness that is watching Mizzou. But then again, the sweeter moments — ones like yesterday that are broken and battered, but still beautiful — lose their joy.

Those were just some thoughts running through my head when Mizzou went into victory formation yesterday. But enough preamble. Takeaway time.

1. Avoiding #HeupelDrive

One of the hardest parts about watching the offense this year has been the commitment to failure. I’m talking, of course, about the constant 3-and-outs that drive a vicious circle of self-defeat: the offense can’t get anything going and is off the field in less than a minute; the defense, already suffering from injuries, can’t stay energized throughout the game.

Yesterday wasn’t all that different; Mizzou still lost the TOP battle by a fairly wide margin. But it was refreshing to see some more sustained drives. The two teams went toe-to-toe in rushing and passing, and Mizzou was the beneficiary of some penalties.

This has been an offense billed for its volatile qualities, but I’ll take games like yesterday any day if it means more Ws on the schedule.

2. The future is here

It’s been largely accepted among the Mizzou community over the past week, and yesterday was a sterling reminder: The future is right now for this offense.

Damarea Crockett has all the makings of a star and a potential household name in a year or two. He’s explosive, controlled, and a smart runner. Meanwhile Dimetrios Mason, despite his frustrating drops, has the stuff to lead the next dangerous corps of Missouri wide receivers. He’ll be helped by Jonathan Johnson — who I feel like we all forgot about there for a few weeks — and even J’Mon Moore next year.

Moore has been a head-scratching player this year, but he definitely flashed his full potential at times yesterday. Give this group an offseason to get better, and next year should be a whole lot of fun.

3. A different side of Drew Lock

The book on Lock’s season has largely been written: He’s a young QB with massive potential who still lacks the know-how to truly carry an offense. But Lock showed how dangerous he could be yesterday, not by airing the ball out and making eye-popping throws — though that was a part of the deal yesterday.

Instead, Lock did what the best quarterbacks do: He took care of the ball, he largely made the timely throws he needed to make, and he made some really tough conversions. Specifically, there was one rollout throw he made on a third down to grab a much-needed conversion. It was [chef kissing fingers] good.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Missouri
Drew Lock
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

4. How do you solve a problem like Tucker?

I’ll save the negativity for one section. And to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of answers here. Tucker McCann was supposed to be the golden goose, the guy who rewarded a full-time kicking scholarship with unshakeable consistency and a steel toe that booted 50-60 yard field goals within his first season. Instead, he’s taking a backseat to an unheard-of freshman in Ben Tesson.

I’ve never kicked, but I can imagine it’s an entirely stressful job to have, especially as a first-year kicker with the weight of a fanbase on your shoulders. Andrew Baggett got his fair share of lashings from the fan base, but at least he recovered to be a fairly reliable weapon.

At this point, McCann is a non-option. He can’t even find the confidence to boot a PAT. So what do the coaches do about McCann? The season is largely lost, so you could argue, “Let him kick his way through it in a season where the stakes are largely ornamental.” Or you could say, “Stash him on the bench and train him up toward next year.”

I’m more of the latter: McCann clearly doesn’t have it right now, but he’s also not a bad kicker. He was highly touted for a reason. Let the kid have the rest of the year off, and really set to working on his game in the offseason. He shouldn’t be given a free ride to the starting job, but trotting him out to an already frustrated fan base every week isn’t going to help.

5. A win is a win is a win

No one is kidding themselves: Yesterday’s game was ugly and had all the dressings of a 2016 Mizzou disappointment. But the gods smiled favorably upon Columbia yesterday and saw it fit to curse Vanderbilt with a slew of mistakes and misfortunes that outweighed the Tigers’.

That being said, there were a lot of positives to take forward from yesterday. The D-Line looked like its old self, and Charles Harris and Aarion Penton were great. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to those two next year.

Crockett, Lock, Mason and Moore should be leading a very dangerous, more mature offense into next season. Corey Fatony is still Corey Fatony. And Mizzou coaches, while far from perfect, coached up a team in the depths of despair to a win against a not-that-bad SEC opponent.

Yes, it was maddening. No, it doesn't change the outlook of the season largely. And yes, Mizzou has to really improve to win either of these last two games. But a win is a win is a win, and it’s much more fun to learn those lessons under victorious circumstances.