What was that? Mizzou needs to toughen up against top SEC teams
Many people (including me) picked Mizzou to upset LSU in Death Valley on Saturday night.
Many people (including me) were wrong, as the home Tigers trounced the visiting Tigers 42-7 in Ed Orgeron’s first game as the interim head coach.
If Mizzou is going to return to the glory days of 2013 and 2014, when the Tigers won the SEC East, they’re going to need to play tougher against the SEC’s best teams.
Saturday night’s loss was an embarrassment and Mizzou will need to use this week’s bye to get back on track.
Here’s a final look at how the Tigers performed in the 42-7 loss at Death Valley:
The receivers need to be tougher: Against an LSU secondary loaded with NFL talent, the Mizzou wide receivers failed to generate any separation.
Just before halftime, WR J’Mon Moore made a meaningless catch and felt the need to start something with LSU DB Tre’Davious White, which drew personal foul penalties from both teams.
Getting away from press coverage and fighting for the ball in the air need to be focused on at practice the next two weeks.
Something needs to change defensively: The announcers mentioned repeatedly on Saturday night that the defensive linemen aren’t just “pinning their ears back and getting after the quarterback” under defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross.
Instead, the linemen have more gap responsibilities they must adhere to.
Well, five games in, that isn’t working. The defense, one of the top units in the country last year, looks lost.
Granted, losing Walter Brady is going to hurt any front, but what Cross is doing isn’t working. Adjustments need to be made to the scheme so the talents of DE Charles Harris and company are properly utilized.
Drew Lock has some growing up to do: Sophomore QB Drew Lock has all the makings of a Mizzou’s next great quarterback. However, Saturday night made it painfully clear that he’s not quite there yet.
Lock was 9-for-19 for 82 yards and an interception in the first half and finished the game a pedestrian 17-for-37 for 162 yards and no touchdowns.
The atmosphere at Death Valley clearly intimidated the young quarterback. He’ll have to be mentally stronger when the Tigers visit The Swamp and Neyland Stadium later this season.
What happened to the team that scored 79 points against Delaware State last week?
No one was expecting even 40 points against LSU, but come on — the Tigers didn’t get on the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter.
The only thing keeping the offense’s grade from being an F is the late scoring play, where WR Eric Laurent completed a 21-yard QB throwback pass to Drew Lock, who was streaking up the right sideline.
It’s just too bad that moment didn’t come until the game was already well out of hand for Mizzou.
Nothing went right, and to think the Tigers totaled 600-plus total yards without star RB Leonard Fournette is almost unthinkable.
The visiting Tigers overlooked one thing, though — Derrius Guice isn’t much of a step down from Fournette.
Allowing 634 yards to an LSU offense that has struggled mightily all season is embarrassing. As the SEC schedule gets into full swing following next week’s bye, the Tigers’ defense will need to be better.
Special teams: B-
P Corey Fatony (see below) is a stud, but the returners didn’t make much of an impact Saturday night.
Granted, when you only see two kickoffs and three punts, there aren’t many opportunities for big plays.
K Tucker McCann was 1-for-1 on extra points, so that was a small victory for the struggling freshman.
The regression of the Mizzou defense under new coordinator DeMontie Cross is alarming. The Tigers have uncharacteristically struggled on that side of the ball in 2016.
Offensively, Josh Heupel needs to be more willing to adjust his game plan when things aren’t working. Going three-and-out in one minute hurts the defense, too.
Giving the defenders time to rest is important and will need to be a focus moving forward.
Not much to write home about from this game. The Tigers were outclassed in every facet of the game on Saturday night.
There’s a long way to go if Mizzou wants to regain its respectability moving forward. The Tigers are still not talented enough to gain bowl eligibility this season.
P Corey Fatony: The Tigers have a gem at the punter position.
Time and time again, Fatony pinned LSU deep in its own territory, landing one at the three-yard line.
Unfortunately for Fatony, the defense couldn’t stop Derrius Guice and the LSU running game, so all that happened after Fatony’s long punts were even longer offensive drives.
WR Eric Laurent: It’s a struggle to find to worthy candidates for game balls this week, so Laurent earns the second for his nice throwback pass to Drew Lock that led to the Tigers’ only score.
It was a beautiful play, but it’s a shame it didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss.
Graduate transfer RB Alex Ross missed another game with an ankle injury, but the Tigers avoided any other major injuries in Baton Rouge.