Bottom line: Mizzou found a way to lose. I’m not positive South Carolina is significantly better than Missouri, but they sure looked like they were Saturday night.
Special teams and critical situations seemed to go the way of South Carolina every single time. If you get inside the 10-yard line, you have to punch it in. If you’re facing Deebo Samuel, you can’t kick to him. If you have a punt ready to be downed inside the 10, you have to do it; and you certainly can’t commit a stupid penalty on a play which forces a re-punt when you did down it inside the 10.
Missouri was sloppy. South Carolina wasn’t. And that was the difference. As for the specifics…
-Missouri’s red zone offense was horrendous. The Tigers had drives stall at the South Carolina 7, 4 and 26-yard line. Those three drives resulted in a total of 6 points. When the defense had a smaller field to protect, Mizzou had nothing to counter-punch with. Remember when Barry Odom said he would go with a big formation near the goal line? What happened to that?
-Drew Lock wasn’t good enough. I hate ragging on college kids, but Drew Lock has to be better. In 18 games against power-five opponents, Drew Lock is completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes for less than 200 yards per game. He’s thrown just 13 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions. Saturday night wasn’t much different. His final numbers: 14-for-32 for 245 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. If Missouri is going to be what many thought they could, they need more from their star quarterback.
-What the heck happened to Damarea Crockett? Crockett was the nearly the entire Mizzou offense for the first half with 16 carries for 90 yards. The second half? Just two carries for 7 yards. Barry Odom said after the game Crockett was hurt with a tailbone bruise. He added, “Mine’s bruised, too. It’s called an ass-kicking.” So, there’s that.
-The defense is going to get a ton of criticism for the loss, but… They probably shouldn’t. Three of South Carolina’s four touchdowns came on a kickoff return, a 25-yard drive set up by a Lock interception, and a 44-yard drive set up by a muffed punt. The South Carolina offense really only had one significant touchdown drive all night. They finished averaging just 4.3 yards per carry, and Jake Bentley only threw for 187 yards. All things considered, you’ll take that. The defense did their job, the offense and special teams did not.
-Can we talk about Missouri’s special teams again? Because they were so, so bad. Tucker McCann had a field goal blocked. Missouri kicked to Deebo Samuel, who returned said kick for a touchdown. Johnathon Johnson muffed a punt. A punt that should’ve been downed inside the five rolled into the end zone despite six Mizzou players surrounding the ball. A punt that was downed inside the 10 had to be re-kicked because of a Mizzou penalty. Barry Odom said after the game this team has zero margin for error. The special teams tonight proved it.
-I don’t want to hear anything more about this being a great offense. It’s not. It’s explosive at times. There are playmakers all over the field. It looks like it should be a good offense. But it’s not actually a great offense. Whether it’s drops, penalties, or errant passes… There are too many drives that stall without really getting anything going. Mizzou put up crazy stats against Missouri State. They did that last year against bad teams, too. This offense is judged by what it does against power-five competition. Over the last two seasons, Mizzou has played 10 power-five opponents. They’re averaging 20.5 points per game against them. This is no longer a small sample.
-Is time of possession going to be an issue again? South Carolina had the ball for 37 of the 60 minutes, nearly 2-to-1 what Mizzou had. Running a fast offense is great… Until it’s not. If Missouri’s not going to put up big numbers against power-five opponents, they would be well-served to slow things down. There is a point of diminishing returns, and Mizzou seems to be reaching it.
-Barry Odom has to shoulder a large percentage of the blame for this. I don’t take any joy in writing this. I’ve been an Odom guy from Jump Street. I still think he can be a great division one head football coach. But this is the second-straight week a unit Odom’s in charge of has came up short. In week one, it was the defense giving up 43 to Missouri State. In week two, it’s the special teams coming up short. Odom made the decision when he was hired not to hire a special teams coordinator, and he took on most of those duties. Odom was clearly flustered and frustrated after the game when talking to reporters. He knows this isn’t going well.
-We all knew this was a swing game, and it swung in the wrong direction. Mizzou likely needed to beat South Carolina in order to make a bowl this year. All of a sudden, it’s hard to come up with a way in which the Tigers to get to six wins. Find five wins out of this slate: Purdue, Auburn, @ Kentucky, @ Georgia, Idaho, @ Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, @ Vanderbilt, @ Arkansas. I can find two in Idaho and UCONN. After that? Brace yourselves, Mizzou fans. This could be a longer year than we anticipated.