Rapid Reaction: Mizzou shows fight, picks up huge road win against Purdue
The Missouri Tigers hit the road on Saturday night, looking for revenge against a Purdue squad that absolutely embarrassed them in Columbia last season.
This time around, things were much different, with the Tigers gritting out a tough road victory against their Big Ten foes.
If you were looking for a pretty game, you most certainly did not get that. However, it was a win in a game Mizzou would have lost in years past.
Here are a few quick reactions to Mizzou’s important, if unimpressive, 40-37 win Saturday night at Purdue:
Poor finish to first half
The Tigers definitely struggled at the end of the first half, letting Purdue score 14 unanswered points to close out the second quarter. When you blow a 27-10 advantage with seven minutes left and look horrible doing it, it’s never a good sign.
Good teams don’t let leads like that slip away, so the Tigers still have a ways to go before they can consider themselves a legitimate threat in the SEC East.
Special teams need work
Tucker McCann is improving, but there is still work that needs to be done across the board on special teams. McCann’s late-second quarter field-goal attempt was blocked, and it had nothing to do with McCann.
That set up another Purdue score, so in hindsight, it was not the best decision. However, it shouldn’t have taken hindsight to know that a different call should have been made. Even a punt would have been a better idea.
Give McCann credit, though, for stepping up and hitting the winning field goal as time expired.
Coaching left a lot to be desired
That play mentioned above? Why was Barry Odom going for a 50-yard field goal to end the half? You have to know your players’ limitations, and the Tigers are certainly not in a position where they should be kicking 50-yard field goals on fourth and 4.
The Tigers probably would have been better off trying to go for it and then hoping for the best if the attempt failed. Instead, Odom and Mizzou gifted Purdue with good field position and it led to points.
The receiving corps can rival anyone’s
Everyone talks about Ole Miss’ receiving corps as being one of the nation’s best, and the Rebels definitely deserve that reputation. However, the Tigers are no slouches when it comes to catching passes.
In the first half, three receivers had more than 50 yards, and three different targets caught passes for touchdowns. It was a well-balanced effort, and they continued to dominate in the second half.
New OC Derek Dooley has shown he knows how to get guys open, and Drew Lock can get the ball to them when they have even an inch of space. It should be fun to see how strong this group can be moving forward.
It was somewhat disappointing to see the Tigers give up and kick a field goal on fourth and 1 in the third quarter, deep in Purdue territory. Yes, it put them up by two scores, but you have to have confidence that your offense can pick up at least a yard.
In the coming weeks, as Mizzou’s schedule gets much tougher, the Tigers are going to have to be bolder calling plays. Is Derek Dooley up to the challenge? We’ll find out.
Closing it out
For all the complaints listed above, the Tigers did win.
For that, they deserve a lot of credit. This year’s squad has shown some fight, picking up big defensive stops and scoring enough points to keep them ahead on the scoreboard.
The late-fourth-quarter drive to win was as impressive as anything Mizzou has done since winning the SEC East a few years ago. If the Tigers are going to show that kind of toughness, it could be a good year in Columbia.
Drew Lock didn’t have the completion percentage he’s had in games past, but he did throw for 305 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions by the time the fourth quarter started.
Yes, Purdue QB David Blough had 400 yards entering the fourth, but that says more about Mizzou’s lack of a pass defense than it does Lock.
Corey Fatony = The Man
Early in the fourth quarter, the Mizzou offense moved backward on a drive, but Fatony still pinned Purdue inside the 20 with a booming punt.
Flipping the field in a 10-point game isn’t a play that will show up in the highlight reel, but it ended up being a very important play in the grand scheme of things.
Fatony continues to be one of the best punters in the country, and the Tigers are lucky to have him for their special teams unit.