After the Missouri Tigers dropped another conference game, they slid to 2-4, and 0-3 in conference play.
The Tigers continue to struggle finishing and closing games, however, there are bright spots and a few takeaways Mizzou can build on in preparation for Vanderbilt.
Missouri Tigers defense: Make no mistake, none of the four losses are on the defense. You could have argued it is a top-ten defense in the country after last week’s game against Georgia. A unit is comprised of its individual, working parts. With that said, the defensive unit is exceptionally good, even if the combined did not tell that story prior to the Florida game. Few teams have this much individual talent on the defensive side of the ball. The defense is now getting the respect they deserve, and the statistics back that up. Mizzou is the No. 10 defense in division 1.
The Missouri Tigers’ defense is the reason the conference games have been close. Sure, special teams and offensive play are required, but the defense is the reason for the season. We discussed this in detail on the ‘Bleav in Mizzou’ show. They continue to improve in coverage every week, and they have started to get to the quarterback, while not getting destroyed on the ground.
Dominic Lovett and Luther Burden coexisting beautifully: These guys will be playing football on Sundays. These are talented young men with great futures ahead of them. Getting both to produce in the same game is something we have yet to see until the game at Florida. They are both dealing with lingering injuries that have persisted over the last few weeks.
On Saturday, the SEC’s leading receiver, Lovett had 4 receptions for 39 yards. Burden 5 receptions for 20 yards. This may not seem important, but it is. The two combining for 9 catches will generally result in more than 59 total yards. This is a step in the right direction. If Missouri can feed their top two receivers regularly, it could be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Now imagine both guys are healthy. The bye week may give us just that.
The running game: The Missouri Tigers’ combination of Nathaniel Peat and Cody Schrader is starting to look like one of the better 1-2 combinations in college football, without naming a 1 or 2. The cool thing is, you do not have to name one. Entering the season, Elijah Young was RB1 on the depth chart. A talented back in his own right. Peat had a career game, rushing 20 times for 117 yards and a score.
“Moral victories are for minor league coaches.” – Jay-Z.
There are no sprint wins, but the pieces are there for Mizzou to start converting almost into wins. The season is far from over. If the Missouri Tigers win out and finish 8-4, it will be in large part because of the items mentioned above.
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