Mizzou football: Why do the Tigers continue to look completely unprepared away from home?
Remember when Mizzou was going to go 8-0 and enter a Nov. 9 game against Georgia with a chance to make a statement in the SEC East?
Yeah, I don’t either. That seems like a lifetime ago after the three embarrassing losses the Tigers have slogged through so far this season.
Time after time, coach Barry Odom’s team seems completely unprepared for what awaits it away from Faurot Field. The Tigers are currently 5-0 at home and 0-3 on the road, with each loss as unexpected as it was embarrassing.
First up was a Week 1 debacle at Wyoming. The Tigers seemed surprised by the altitude, despite all the beet juice they reportedly drank to prepare. Perhaps they should have stepped up the offseason cardio work instead. That way, they would have maybe been able to stop the Cowboys from rushing for 297 yards.
Then came a loss to a 1-5 Vanderbilt team that was coming off a 34-10 loss to UNLV. After a 5-0 home stretch, this defeat at the hands of one of the worst teams in the SEC was, in a word, inexplicable.
But Odom’s teams always bounce back after bad losses, right? The Tigers rattled off that five-game winning streak after the Wyoming loss after all, didn’t they?
Well, it wasn’t meant to be this time, as Mizzou ran into one of its worst enemies on Saturday night in Lexington — rain. Particularly, rain on the road.
Remember that South Carolina game last year that swung massively when it started to pour at Williams-Brice Stadium? Odom and his staff apparently learned nothing from that.
In the consistent rain, the Tigers attempted 29 passes, completing only 14 for 164 yards and a touchdown. Kentucky, on the other hand, dominated on the ground, with WR-turned-QB Lynn Bowden Jr. running for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Wildcats only tried to pass 8 times.
Yes, the Tigers missed star LB Cale Garrett in this game, and yes, starting QB Kelly Bryant went down with an injury, but the game was out of hand after the Wildcats took a 22-0 halftime lead, scoring all 22 points in the second quarter.
Odom and OC Derek Dooley were simply overmatched by the Kentucky coaching staff. Dooley has failed to unleash Bryant’s potential as a runner. Back in 2017 at Clemson, he ran for 665 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year, he has only 205 rushing yards and 1 score.
To be fair, Missouri receivers have dropped a ton of passes this year, and the offensive line has been inconsistent, but in the rain at Kentucky, that’s why you don’t throw it 29 times. Nothing good was going to come of that game plan.
Dooley was brought in to make the Tigers’ offense more balanced and pro-like, but Kentucky just proved (and has proven in two of the last three games) that balance isn’t always a good thing. In the rain, Mark Stoops had a perfect plan — let Bowden do everything. He’s a special player, and the Kentucky offense used his skills as well as it possibly could.
Road games are tough to win no matter who you are, but the Tigers’ struggles away from Faurot Field this year have been simply unacceptable. Fans of Odom’s say Mizzou can’t do any better, but former middle-of-the-road teams like Clemson and Oregon have found ways to improve their stock by hiring guys like Dabo Swinney and Chip Kelly. Even Florida had only put together three top-10 finishes in the AP Postseason Poll before hiring a guy named Steve Spurrier.
Fans of Odom say Mizzou can’t do any better, but does that mean the Tigers and AD Jim Sterk shouldn’t try? Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Sounds a lot like what the Tigers are doing by continuing to stand by Odom after another embarrassing loss.