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The search for optimism: Takeaways from Mizzou’s loss to South Carolina

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NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s takeaways post, I wrote about how fans had gone all the way from optimism to nihilism when it comes to Mizzou. No one has any more delusions of grandeur: this team sucks, and watching them kind of sucks too.

But it’s good to take a step back and remember that sports are cyclical. Yes, the Tigers suck now, but eventually they won’t suck, and watching them will be fun for all of us once more. Bill wrote a lovely piece about that earlier this year.

So instead of choosing to dwell on all the negatives from yet another loss — the kicking, the unfinished drives, the untimely turnovers, the complete abandonment of the run game in the first quarter — I’m going to stretch myself and try to pick out a few silver linings in a season bereft of them.

1. Damarea Crockett

I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings for Damarea Crockett this year. He’s clearly been Missouri’s most consistent playmaker on offense — as a true freshman! — and is clearly a bright spot for this offense’s future. In the next few years, while Drew Lock is (hopefully) improving and slinging the ball all over the field to a (hopefully) more mature receiving core, Crockett will be there to eat up carries and give this offense some desperately needed balance. The thing is, Crockett is already there for the most part. He just needs the rest of the offense to catch up.

2. #TightEndPassGame

Throughout my time as a student at Missouri, I read all about how Sean Culkin was the next great Mizzou tight end, the player to take up the mantle of Michael Egnew, Chase Coffman, and Martin Rucker. He never really lived up to that billing, though he hasn’t been a total non-factor.

The real star can be found in sophomore Kendall Blanton, who now has three touchdown catches on the year after that pretty ball by Lock yesterday. Blanton has been one of the quiet, consistent players that seems like he’s one offseason away from developing into a dynamic threat for this offense.

It also helps to have junior Jason Reese for another year. He still has the potential to be a major factor moving forward. Lock shouldn't have a lack of big targets to throw to in years to come.

3. Drew Lock 2.0

I’m cheating here, but read Bill’s piece about the need for Drew Lock to improve next year. He hit it right on the head. He’s clearly a better player now than he was last year, and if Lock does take that next step forward, Missouri could be that team we all hoped watching the Eastern Michigan game.

4. The Piesman Campaign

I understand the apathy that this season has brought, but if you can’t get behind the “Josh Augusta for Piesman” campaign, you need to think about your life choices. I’m not exactly sure Augusta has a standout play to point to for his campaign, but he’s been almost perfect when called upon to be a bowling ball for the offense. That should at least garner some votes. And it’s fun as all get out to watch.

5. Barry Odom

This one is really a stretch, and it’ll garner some exposed forehead veins I’m sure. But I’m really counting on Barry Odom to take away a few lessons from this year.

No one can dress it up: He’s clearly a first-time head coach and has made some questionable decisions throughout this year. Some have happened in-game, and some have happened off the field. But he has always succeeded with a tenacious attitude and plenty of football smarts. Here’s to hoping this truly awful year gives him a lot of material to think over, material that can make him a better coach moving forward.

That’s all for now. Bring on Vanderbilt

P.S.

Someone get Drew Lock tested, pls.