Missouri Tigers battle to close loss at Kentucky, 40-34

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 07: Garrett Johnson
LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 07: Garrett Johnson /

In a close loss, the Missouri Tigers played with more heart and inspiration against Kentucky, than we’ve seen from them in a while.

Taking all of Missouri’s shortcomings into consideration, the Tigers played a fairly solid four quarters of football on the road at Kentucky. All but one of Mizzou’s touchdowns were through the air; the Tigers’ lone rushing score was made by Lock.

On offense, quarterback Drew Lock showed-up and played more like the talented signal caller we’ve seen on paper and against FCS opponents. Lock’s scoring targets were Emmanuel Hall, Stephen Johnson, and J’Mon Moore.

Lock passed for 355 yards, was 22-of-42 in passing, but did not throw a single pick. Running back Ish Witter was the star on the ground tonight, as he collected 139 yards, and averaged 8.2 yards per carry.

Missouri Tigers Football
Missouri Tigers Football /

Missouri Tigers Football

Running back Damarea Crockett provided a solid change of pace option, carrying the rock for 74 yards. Seeing the Tigers run the ball more frequently was the main aspect that broke open the Tigers’ scoring ability as the game progressed.

Offensively, Missouri looked much better than it has over recent weeks. The unit was more cohesive, and Lock played with a certain amount of swagger and made confident decisions.

On defense, the Tigers still need a lot of work, but the defensive front showed the rest of the world, if they can control the run, then they can do enough to keep the Tigers’ offense in the game.

Special teams also needs to work on snapping the ball for field goal and extra point attempts, and as has been the case all season long, three points is never a sure thing with McCann.

The Tigers didn’t win the game, but they seem to have overcome some mental obstacles,  resembling last years’ team more than ever. I don’t know if it was Odom’s fiery post-game speech against Auburn, or if offensive coordinator Josh Heupel’s decision to stick with his game plan paid off, but this team looked much better tonight.

Next: Staff picks at Kentucky

Next week, Missouri prepares for more conference play, in Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM ET.