Missouri report card: Things go from bad to worse against Vanderbilt
Missouri lost to Vanderbilt 10-3 in a game that will go down as one of the most boring SEC tilts in recent memory and the final score doesn’t quite tell the true story of just how epically bad the Mizzou offense was.
Well, let’s just start off with a few numbers shall we? Over the last three weeks the Mizzou offense has been ice cold, totaling 12 points, 609 yards of total offense and three third-down conversions. The Tigers haven’t scored a touchdown in 13 quarters. That span is a total of 198 minutes and 39 drives.
It’s tough to describe just how bad this offensive unit has been this month and Saturday was the most futile display yet. It would be easier to swallow if the Tigers had turned the ball over multiple times, but that wasn’t the case, just a lack of execution. Drew Lock continues to look like a freshman, going 14-for-34 for 108 yards, the ground game failed to have an impact yet again and the receiving corps was underwhelming.
The lone bright spot was a 26-yard rush by freshman Corey Fatony, which showed a fleeting sign of life. Keep in mind, Fatony is the punter and his 26 yards were second only to Lock for the most gained by a Mizzou rusher on Saturday. Remove them from the equation and the Tigers racked up 54 yards on 18 carries. And, if that’s not enough, an offensive line that returned four starters and one of the nation’s best centers gave up four sacks to a Vandy defense that registered five sacks in its last three games. It was simply a brutal day for the Tigers offense.
Barry Odom deserves a ton of praise for what he has done with this unit. Mizzou gave up just 10 points despite being on the field for 77 snaps and more than 37 minutes for the third consecutive game. Vanderbilt finished with 304 yards of total offense, 72 of which came on its lone touchdown drive.
For the ninth consecutive game, the Tigers did not allow a 100-yard rusher, although Ralph Webb did finish with 99 yards. It took him 26 carries to get there. Kentrell Brothers and Charles Harris continue to play at an elite level. Brothers added 12 tackles to his SEC-high total, becoming the first player to hit 100 tackles this season. Harris had another monster performance, finishing with six tackles, three of which were for loss, including a sack and his linemate, highly touted freshman Terry Beckner Jr. had the best game of his young career with seven tackles, two of which were for loss including a sack.
Saturday marked the fifth time this season Mizzou held an opponent to 10 points or less. The lone knock on the unit is that it doesn’t produce as many turnovers as you’d expect from such an elite group, turning the Commodores over just once.
Special Teams: D-
The only thing saving this from being an F is Fatony. The freshman not only had the big pickup on the fake punt, but also averaged nearly 43 yards on his nine punts, pinning Vandy inside its own 20-yard line twice. Kicker Andrew Baggett missed a 47-yard attempt, his fourth miss of the season. While 47 yards isn’t a gimme, it is well within Baggett’s range. It wasn’t a lack of leg that caused him to push it into the upright. Freshman punt returner Cam Hilton’s fourth quarter fumble could have been costly, but would the offense have scored anyway?
Gary Pinkel either can’t put his players in a position to be successful or he doesn’t have the talent to be successful, both of which are major concerns. We are talking about the winningest coach in the history of the program.
After Saturday’s loss Pinkel was asked if he would be more hands on with the offensive coordinator John Henson’s struggling offense to which he responded “I run my offensive coordinator the same way I’ve been a head coach for 25 years.” But, considering this is his worst offense in 25 years, maybe it’s an issue that deserves a little more attention.
The question of talent is even more troubling. Known for coaching up unheralded recruits into productive players, being in the SEC for three full years and appearing in its championship game twice make it easy to assume that recruiting should be easier. A lack of offensive playmakers suggest that there’s a disconnect in either talent evaluation and/or instruction. Both of which are problematic.
This was a must-win game and the Tigers put together another clunker, losing in nearly identical fashion to the previous two weeks. As the saying goes, doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity and Mizzou is close to driving fans mad with offensive performances like this. Vanderbilt hadn’t won a conference game since Derek Mason took over and his first SEC win might have just put an end to Mizzou’s bowl hopes.