The Dawgs win in Columbia West last night in front of a great crowd of Tiger fans at Faurot Field. Missouri acquitted themselves well in their first conference game as the newest member of the SEC. They were athletic and ready to play but didn’t have the depth to compete for 60 minutes with a top 10 SEC contender. While we have been the signature win for multiple teams since the 2005 Sugar Bowl, last night, we ended up as the hammer instead of the nail.
What Went Well
The Front 7 - The front 7 led by Jarvis Jones and John Jenkins absolutely controlled the Missouri running game especially the threat of the quarterback run. He never broke contain when pass protection broke down and didn’t get loose on the zone read. Eventually, the pounding partially led to Franklin’s late turnovers.
Marlon Brown - He missed last week’s game with an injury, and I’ll admit I forgot about him entering the season because of his tendency to stay injured. He made big plays last night, and if he stays healthy, he could be the missing link for the season attacking the seam and the middle of the field in cover 2.
Punt Teams - The punt and return teams were outstanding in Missouri. While the punt average wasn’t eye popping, they controlled the Tigers’ return game that had two returns for TDs last week. Damian Swann had another good punt return. Richard Samuel made the play of the game with his stop of the fake punt that changed momentum fully to the Dawgs.
While it’s hard to nitpick about a hard fought win on the road in the SEC, there were a few things that have to tighten up before the showdown in Columbia East against Darth Visor and the Gamecocks.
False Start Penalties - We had multiple false starts especially by the freshmen on offense. It seemed that many times we were able to get in front of the chains on 1st down just to fall back behind the chains with a needless penalty. The late shifts of the Tigers’ defensive line caused headaches where we made multiple mental mistakes.
Secondary Breakdowns - Defensive breakdowns in the secondary led to both Missouri TDs and almost led to big TD at the end of the half on the Hail Mary. 17-9 at halftime could have been too much for the Dawgs to overcome if they hit the Hail Mary. Welcome back this weekend, Sanders Commings, and, hopefully, Bacarri Rambo for the Vandy game.
Drops - While Murray made a few poor throws in the 1st half, some drops kept Murray from having a monster game statistically. I think this game was an outlier rather than an indicator of underlying issues with the receivers.
Offense- B. The offensive line never really took over the game when given the opportunity. While we scored 41 points, the defense should get credit for the last 2 touchdowns after the two monster plays by Jones. Other than Gurley’s big run, we never really gashed the Missouri front 7. Needless to say, this offensive line needs to grow up fast before we show up in South Carolina.
Defense – B+. We controlled the real threat of the Missouri running game and managed to minimize the number of yards after the catch. The two enormous plays plus the near miss on the Hail Mary keep this grade from being higher at the end of the day. Our secondary needs to be at full strength and playing as a unit when Tyler Bray, Corderelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter show up at Sanford Stadium in 3 weeks.
Coaching – A-. The defensive game plan was spot on and probably would have been perfect with a full complement of players. The offensive execution in the 2nd half was really good, and the adjustments made to attack the Tigers secondary were well designed. I would have liked to have seen more of the tight end in the offense especially after the one catch by Jay Rome.
Overall – B+. We got back to our winning ways on the road against a quality opponent. On offense, we looked balanced and had an answer every time Missouri pulled in front. The TD drive before halftime was beautifully called and executed. On defense, we took away the running game and got pressure without significant blitzing. The special teams are becoming a strength of the team and field position weapon.
Look Ahead to FAU
Florida Atlantic is one of the worst teams in the FBS. They barely beat Wagner on opening weekend and lost on Saturday to Middle Tennessee, who lost to an FCS school last weekend. While I’m not one to advocate running up the score, we must make a statement to the pollsters on Saturday night between the hedges before we rest our starters for the remainder of the SEC schedule. This game will be one to get control early, pull the starters, and develop some of the younger players for later in the season.
Those are my thoughts. I would like to read yours in the comments.