Mizzou football: How much longer should Tigers fans ride the Barry Odom roller coaster?
Here we are again.
The Missouri Tigers entered Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt on a 5-game winning streak. After dropping the season opener at Wyoming, Mizzou won 5 home games in a row to enter Saturday’s action on a hot streak.
However, being the group of “self-loathing losers” former Mizzou WR T.J. Moe thinks the Tiger fan base is, there were plenty of doubts entering the game against the hapless Commodores. Still, most fans had circled next week’s Kentucky game for the annual letdown. Even for a fan base accustomed to such deflating losses, not many gave the Commodores a chance at pulling off an upset.
Yes, this was the same Vandy team that lost at home to a then-1-4 UNLV team last weekend. Yes, this was the same Vandy team that came into this week’s matchup with the nation’s No. 113 run defense, giving up 210.3 yards per game on the ground.
No, neither thing mattered as the Tigers choked their way to a 21-14 loss. Special teams miscues and offensive ineptitude hurt coach Barry Odom’s squad all game long.
So, now that the Tigers have plummeted to yet another embarrassing low on the Barry Odom roller coaster, it’s time to ask how long fans are supposed to put up with this ride. After all, this roller coaster doesn’t just make your stomach drop when it falls — it also punches you in the gut.
When expectations are low, Odom’s teams vault over them. When expectations are high, they crash and burn in dramatic fashion, just like the Sooner Schooner did on Saturday.
A huge problem against Vanderbilt was the Tigers’ lack of discipline. They finished with 12 penalties for 120 yards. That’s on the coaching staff. That’s on Odom, OC Derek Dooley and DC Ryan Walters.
The offense, which had scored 30 or more points for 11 consecutive games (second only to Oklahoma at the FBS level), was out of sorts. That’s on Dooley. Naturally, the last time the Tigers failed to reach the 30-point mark was in last year’s abomination against Kentucky.
Games like that happen far too often under Odom. Yes, he has undeniably done some good things for the program. He’s improved his win total every year he’s been in Columbia. He’s also beaten Florida each of the past 2 seasons. But — and this is a big but — this might be his ceiling as a coach. As long as Mizzou fans are going to ride this ride, the lowest lows are always going to be more dramatic than the highest highs.
All I know after Saturday’s loss is this roller coaster is making me sick. I don’t think I want to ride it anymore.
Anyway, while I have you here, let’s break down a couple of other areas where the Tigers struggled Saturday evening:
Kelly, throw the ball!
QB Kelly Bryant had all sorts of time in the pocket Saturday. The problem? He couldn’t find anyone to throw it to. That led to sacks, short runs and throwing the ball away more often than any QB with that sort of time should do.
Bryant finished with a less-than-ideal stat line of 13-for-26 for 140 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also ran for 72 yards on 16 carries. I don’t have access to the All-22 camera angle for this game yet, so I can’t see how much of this was on the receivers. They clearly weren’t getting much separation, though,
Still, sometimes in the SEC (and on nearly every play in the NFL), you’re going to have to throw receivers open. Bryant didn’t even attempt to do that. That has to change moving forward.
Tucker, pick one!
Look, kicker/punter Tucker McCann has been serviceable while punting and kicking this fall. However, it’s time for him to pick one and stick with it.
And, the way his kicking has been the past 2 weeks, perhaps he should give punting his full attention. McCann was awful in the kicking game Saturday evening, missing both of his field goal attempts a week after missing 2 extra points against Ole Miss. He missed a 3rd kick, too, but he was roughed on that attempt. Naturally, Mizzou ended the possession with 0 points.
On the other hand, McCann averaged 50.1 yards per punt on 7 attempts vs. Vandy, pinning the Commodores inside the 20-yard line 3 times.
It has to be one or the other moving forward. Clearly, he’s struggling to handle both. If the Tigers don’t have any other options at kicker or at punter, that’s yet another indictment of Odom.