Missouri Tigers enter the bye week with many questions to answer

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Drew Lock
COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Drew Lock /

Timing is everything. For Missouri, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Now, the Tigers have some time to do…something.

As a fan, I usually dread the years when a team has an early bye, especially when that team is doing well, because it can throw off momentum. Usually, a mid-season bye is most ideal, but for Missouri, an early bye could be beneficial.

What’s difficult to gauge with this team, however, is whether the bye will really make a difference, or is it just delaying the inevitable? Can the Tigers salvage the poor start to their season, or is this Missouri’s reality, with a depleted and inexperienced defense masked by a “good” offense?

Under former head coach Gary Pinkel, when the Tigers hit a bad stretch, he would encourage his athletes to use the bye week to get away from football. Ordinarily, I can get behind that philosophy, but I’m not so sure I could, right now.

Missouri Tigers Football
Missouri Tigers Football /

Missouri Tigers Football

If Missouri had just finished playing five or six games, then I would say we have a good idea of where the Tigers are, in terms of preparedness, motivation and discipline. This year’s team of Tigers may very well be sitting on a 1-4 or 1-5 record, if their bye was mid-season.

Right now, I’m of the mindset that this team should use its off time to work on some fundamentals and put itself in a bubble – get away from outside influences, like social media. The coaching staff and players have to eliminate as much outside noise, as possible.

We saw the exaggerated potential this team has, especially on offense, in its showing against Missouri State. Obviously, that’s not to say that the Tigers would be capable of hanging 73 points on every team they play, but they should at least put up double digits in most games.

I spent a half hour last night listening to the “Eye on the Tigers” podcast, co-hosted by Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many interesting points were made about this team, and comparing some aspects to those under Pinkel.

It’s easy for anyone to dismiss this team as a failure, and to bad mouth every last play, decision, player and coach, but even though it only won four games in 2016, Missouri still has the same 1,000-yard rusher in the backfield, a quarterback who hung almost 3,500 passing yards, a 1,000-yard receiver, and an NFL-sized offensive line.

Next: Mizzou will play Kentucky in prime time

Over the offseason, Missouri lost some of its talent to graduation and to the NFL, but it still remained strong on the offensive side of the ball. At least for that much of it, there’s no good reason the offense has struggled so mightily, so far. Kentucky will be a good, middling test for the Tigers out of their bye.