Missouri football: 5 things Mizzou needs to fix -- now
After Missouri’s latest loss to Boston College, Eli Drinkwitz’s team has a lot to work on if they want to save their season.
Their 2 close losses to Kentucky and now to BC magnified several issues.
Here are 5 the Tigers need to clean up immediately, starting Saturday against Tennessee.
Stop the run!
This can not be emphasized enough. The Tigers are giving up 271 rushing yards per game. Only 1 FBS team in America is allowing more rushing yards per game than Mizzou.
Kentucky ran for 341 yards. Southeast Missouri State nearly reached 300.
More problematic, the Tigers have allowed 12 rushing TDs — only 6 FBS teams have allowed more.
In 2 losses to Kentucky and BC, they gave up 203 yards to Chris Rodriguez and 175 yards to Patrick Garwo III.
The formula for beating Mizzou is quite obvious: run it down their throats and until they figure out a way to stop the run, teams are going to continue to do this.
Oh, by the way, Tennessee averages 204 yards per game rushing and is tied for 3rd in the SEC with 10 rushing TDs.
Protect the football
The Missouri offense of late has leaned heavily on Connor Bazelak, who threw for 303 yards Saturday and led a late comeback attempt. However, his turnovers were costly, none more so than his interception in overtime that ended the game. That throw wasn’t necessarily bad, but the decision to challenge double coverage on first down certainly was.
It’s no coincidence that Bazelak’s 3 interceptions this season all came in the Tigers’ 2 losses.
That continued a troubling trend from 2020, when 5 of his 6 interceptions came in Mizzou losses.
College football analyst Chris Doering on the SEC Network said some very unflattering things about the Mizzou secondary Monday morning on SEC This Morning.
He said they looked as if they did not want to tackle.
That’s not good, especially knowing that the Tigers are having trouble right now stopping the run. Poor angles, gap control and fundamentals have led to gaping holes and chunk plays.
Mizzou has allowed more 30-yard runs (5), 40-yard runs (4) and 60-yard runs (3) than anybody in the SEC.
Last year, the Nick Bolton-led group only allowed 3 30-yard runs all season.
Trust Tyler Badie
Mizzou has turned into more of a passing team this season with Bazelak, but their bread and butter has been the running game.
Tyler Badie has proven to be Mizzou’s best offensive player. And he’s been far more durable than his size might suggest.
You have one of the best runners in the SEC and Drinkwitz hasn’t used him in critical moments of the game. In the 2 losses, Badie has rushed for 66 yards and 72 yards respectively. That’s not going to get the job done.
Badie is the second leading rusher in the SEC with 417 yards and when he gets the football, good things happen. Badie averages over 6 yards a carry. Maybe if Mizzou had given him the ball to start OT, they may have won or at least given themselves a better chance to win.
After this weekend, we will see if Drinkwitz turns more to the running game against Tennessee.
Learn to close out games
Mizzou hasn’t yet made a play on either side of the ball to close a game out. The opportunity was there Saturday to shut Boston College down in the final minutes and they couldn’t do it.
Good teams know how to close out games. You saw Alabama do it against Florida. When the Gators were about to tie the game, their defensive line stopped them.
You saw the Georgia defense step up against Clemson. When the Bulldogs needed to stop the Tigers from tying the ball game, they shut them down.
Missouri is going to have to find a way either on defense or most likely on offense, to close out games. If they were able to do that Saturday, they would be 3-1 and still thinking about shaking things up in the East.
Most of the things mentioned can be fixed, starting Saturday against Tennessee, but if the Tigers don’t get it together soon, it’s only downhill from here.