In a wild season in the SEC punctuated by Butch Jones trying his hardest to get fired by Tennessee and looking dumb while doing it, Bret Bielema and Arkansas turning into a nosedive and LSU getting upset by Troy, the Missouri Tigers’ season has flown under the radar thus far.
The national media has moved far past Mizzou head coach Barry Odom’s press conference rant after getting toasted by Auburn at home 51-14, and getting embarrassed at home one week earlier against Purdue, 35-3.
In the press conference, Odom urged the media and fans not to quit on him or the team in a rebuilding year, bringing up a past instance when Mizzou fans and alumni wanted to run Gary Pinkel out of town before he went on to become the winningest head coach in the school’s history.
“This ain’t dark days,” Odom said. “This is when the going gets tough, you build it together, you fight together and you go find a way to get it done.”
Since Odom’s plea for a second chance, the Tigers have lost to Kentucky, gotten blown out by Georgia and sleepwalked through a win against Idaho. Mizzou enters Saturday with a 2-5 record and a loss at UConn would put yet another nail in Odom’s coffin.
One problem that Mizzou certainly does not have in 2017 is scoring some points and slinging the ball around. Mizzou has the most explosive offense in the country per advanced statistics, ranking first in points per play, and the eye test seems to back that up.
Quarterback Drew Lock is one of the most prolific passers in the country, ranking in the top 20 in passing attempts per game and passing yards. Lock entered Mizzou as a potential NFL prospect, and he has certainly looked the part, but he has been plagued by turnover troubles and overshadowed by Mizzou’s poor record during his time there.
Lock has an elite group of receivers to throw to, highlighted by senior J’Mon Moore, who leads the team with 580 receiving yards this season. Sophomore Johnathon Johnson and junior Emanuel Hall have also had outstanding seasons. Hall has only been targeted 16 times for the year, but has already racked up 454 yards receiving.
Lock will have to shoulder even more of the load this Saturday, as starting running back Damarea Crockett is out with a shoulder injury. Crockett represents 41 percent of Mizzou’s total rushing yards, so backups Ish Witter and Larry Rountree III will have to pick up the slack.
Mizzou’s biggest flaw is their sub-par defense. They give up nearly just as many big plays on defense as they make on offense, ranking second-to-last in the nation in points per play allowed on defense.
The Tigers are only marginally better at stopping the run, giving up only 213 rushing yards per game as opposed to 250 yards per game through the air.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.