As good as Missouri’s offense looked in the season opener, it looked as bad in its SEC opener against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks also made the Tigers’ defense look sub-par; an embarrassing evening for the Tigers to open conference play. Here’s what we learned:
1. Drew Lock still has not shown himself against conference opponents
While the praise has come out all offseason, I gave a word of caution last week about thinking Lock has arrived. On Saturday, Lock showed he still hasn’t. I am still hopeful that he can prove himself this season, but right now, I am not convinced. All his numbers don’t do it for me.
Mizzou out-gained South Carolina, 423-359. But all those guys who looked like they were in sync after week one seemed to go silent. Lock shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame as J’Mon Moore dropped multiple passes and Johnathon Johnson did not record a single catch. The leading receiver was tight end Jason Reese with 88 yards on two catches (with 61 coming on the Tigers lone touchdown).
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2. The defensive line still can’t make a difference
Despite having a national top recruit in Terry Beckner, the linemen that we have come to expect from Mizzou are gone. Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, Markus Golden, even Justin Smith and Ziggy Hood seem to be a distant memory.
The lackluster play on that side led to the firing of defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross. Arguably, this should have been done in the offseason.
In 2016, it seemed like the defense had lost its edge and was no longer attacking, but reacting to their opponents, instead. Through two games this year, it seems like the same thing is happening.
So with Cross gone, the pressure is on Barry Odom, now. If Odom cannot get the defense back into shape, he will be fired in the offseason. I’m not advocating that he get fired yet, but his seat is getting hot.
3. Mizzou is undisciplined
The number one thing I have seen from this team so far, is a lack of discipline. Missed tackles, turnovers, penalties, etc. just show that his group is not together. Ten penalties through two games, five turnovers and about ten thousand (sic) missed tackles will simply not cut it.
The Tigers held the ball for just 22:24 against South Carolina. That is simply not enough. With running back Damarea Crockett in the backfield, there is no reason not to play some possession football.
The defense needs a breather every once in a while, too. Surprisingly, the Missouri defense held it longer against South Carolina than they did against Missouri State (21:44). If the offensive line cannot get push in the running game, the Tigers will have little chance at winning SEC games.