Mizzou football: Pick a curse, any curse. The Tigers simply cannot have nice things
When I sat down to write my weekly follow-up column for the Tigers, my plan was to praise the Missouri defense. After all, that unit has played incredibly well this year, especially against the pass.
Then, though, just before halftime of Saturday’s big win against Troy, QB Kelly Bryant was injured on what seemed to be a dirty play by a Trojan defender. He missed the rest of the game.
So, naturally, I switched gears, planning to write about Bryant’s injury and why it sucked that such a cheap shot would cost him potentially the rest of his college career.
But, as things so often happen when discussing the Tigers, some even worse and more unpredictable news came out of left field on Sunday night. Star LB Cale Garrett’s 2019 season is now in jeopardy after he had to have surgery to repair a pectoral injury.
This is an absolute shocker, as Garrett played an incredible game Saturday against Troy, snagging 2 interceptions and returning 1 for a touchdown. To be honest, Troy is lucky the other pick didn’t go for 6 points, too.
Every year, it is repeatedly proven that it is an exercise in futility to be a Mizzou fan. Sometimes, key players get hurt in absolutely devastating fashion. Sometimes, referees miss pass interference calls and the offense doesn’t manage a single first down at home against Kentucky. Still, this Garrett injury caught me by surprise somehow, even though no Mizzou bad luck should be shocking at this point.
Garrett was a legit front-runner for the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award this year, and now it’s potentially over. I mean, just look at this interception return for a touchdown:
Cale Garrett is BALLING!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 5, 2019
He did appear to be in some pain after his first interception of the day, though:
You could see here Garrett looked to be in some pain after his first INT. He later picked off another pass and scored. pic.twitter.com/bfdCZqkxyk
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) October 7, 2019
Now, he’s likely out for the year, and that is awful news for a Mizzou defense that has really become elite under Garrett’s leadership. The Tigers have the No. 2 passing defense in the country through 6 weeks, and a lot of that has to do with Garrett.
He has 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery, combining for 3 total touchdowns. He has more touchdowns than all but 20 SEC receivers at the moment. Think about that. He’s a linebacker. And he has more touchdowns than many receivers. That’s insane.
Even with Mizzou’s offensive prowess, the defense was the key unit on this team. But it all started with Garrett. Now, the Tigers will have to replace him, and that player will have a huge burden.
We need to acknowledge that the defense isn’t just a one-man show, though. Garrett has been great, yes, but so has fellow LB Nick Bolton. So has the defensive line, led by DT Jordan Elliott. So has the secondary, which has forced opposing quarterbacks to look for checkdown options, leading to interceptions for Garrett and Bolton. S Ronnell Perkins also has 2 picks this year.
Still, it’s hard not to feel like Mizzou is cursed. This was a 42-10 victory for the Tigers that was put out of reach after Troy’s touchdown on its first drive. How does this even happen? It’s just a Mizzou thing, apparently.
Injuries to incredible players have become commonplace for the Tigers in recent years. Don’t believe me? Just look at Michael and Jontay Porter. Now, Mizzou is dealing with injuries to Bryant and Garrett.
Maybe fans should just be thankful that Drew Lock made it through his career without any major injuries (although he’s hurt for the Denver Broncos), but I think someone needs to find RB Larry Rountree III and TE Albert Okwuegbunam and wrap them in bubble wrap. This is getting out of hand.
Let’s hope that Garrett recovers quickly and has a chance to end his season with an appearance in a bowl game (don’t count on the NCAA making the right decision. More on that in a second). However, beyond that, let’s hope he still has a chance to pursue his NFL dreams and get drafted where he should get drafted.
To potentially add insult to (literal) injury, the NCAA still holds the power to uphold a bowl ban for the Tigers this year. From every indication I’ve heard, Mizzou fans shouldn’t get their hopes up that the NCAA will #MakeItRight.
I know I’ve asked this before, but if Garrett is out and Bryant isn’t at 100 percent, does it even matter if the NCAA makes it right and reverses the bowl ban? Why can’t the Tigers catch a break?