Mizzou has played two games on CBS for the whole nation to see this year.
In both, the nation had to cover their eyes, as Mizzou was outscored 73-20 in two losses to South Carolina and Alabama, scoring just two touchdowns in eight quarters – one a mop-up TD in the final minute of a 31-10 loss at South Carolina and a kick return TD in yesterday’s 42-10 home loss to No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC).
And now, Missouri is 3-4 and winless at 0-4 in their first season in the SEC including a home loss to conference doormat Vanderbilt. But, hey at least the tough part of the schedule is over. Oh wait, we still have to go Top 5 Florida in November. Maybe Mizzou will win a game this month when Kentucky comes to town Oct. 27 for Homecoming. Hopefully the initiation is over.
The Good: Believe it or not, despite losing by 32 points and being outgained by 404 yards, there were a few positives. After the weather delay, Missouri woke up and showed signs it could hang with Bama. Too bad it was already 28-0 and the game was already over. Mizzou outscored ‘Bama, 10-0, from the 8:30 mark of the second quarter to 14:00 mark of the fourth, and really could have made it a game, but could not get over the hump. Mizzou got the ball in great position after a botched punt attempt, but did not score. Then, after getting the ball in great field position and a couple of Corbin Berkstresser – a rarity the last two games – passes, Mizzou was in field goal range to end the half. That is when Berkstresser did the unthinkable and took a sack, which resulted in a fumble and 42-yard loss and a turnover. No points. An Andrew Baggett field goal on the opening possession of the second half made it 28-10. Despite needing a TD, it was huge to get points there. Mizzou got the ball three more times with the same score, but could not do anything.
Missouri outgained Alabama 102-85, a far cry from the first half, when Alabama outgained MU 363-31, in the third quarter…And then there was Sheldon Richardson who was all over the field, who registered 14 tackles – which he even admitted was too many for someone at his position and Marcus Murphy, who returned the ensuing kickoff after the weather delay, making it 28-7 halfway through the second quarter. It was Murphy’s fourth return TD this year – first kickoff – and is just one career return TD away from Jeremy Maclin’s school record…and he is almost there in a half season. The defense extended its streak of consecutive games with at least one turnover to 24 games, forcing three. Unfortunately, the Tigers did not convert any of those into points.
Oh, and this vigilante justice from offensive linemen Even Boehm, Brad McNulty and Max Copeland the two plays following LaMichael Fanning gooning reserve RB Russell Hansbrough was pretty good too:
The Bad: It was 7-0 two plays into the game when Alabama’s Eddie Lacy went off tackle right through a gaping hole for 73 yards. That was only the beginning. Then L’Damian Washington not only fails to catch an imminently catchable ball from Corbin Berkstresser (it was on his back shoulder on a crossing route, ball should have been better, but it should have been caught) on Mizzou’s second drive, but he tips it straight into the air, where Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri makes a lovely diving pick at midfield. On the next play, A.J. McCarron finds Kenny Bell for a 44-yard gain on a relatively well-covered flea flicker. Seven plays later, Trey Barrow’s punt is blocked by Landon Collins. Alabama scores on a three-play, 17-yard drive, and it’s 21-0 after 14 minutes. With 8:36 remaining in the second quarter the heavens opened up and lightning delayed the game. It was 28-0.
The Ugly: Missouri’s offense, yardage margin and quarterback play. Alabama’s defense is the national leader in seven different categories. It was going to be difficult for Missouri to move the ball no matter who was quarterbacking. But, it was going to be almost impossible with backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and a beat up offensive line protecting me. The result? the fourth worst home beating in the Gary Pinkel era and a whopping 123 yards of offense – the lowest amount in the Pinkel era. Even worse? An unacceptable 31 yards of offense in the first half, where the Tigers were outgained by 332 yards. In ONE HALF. The Alabama defense is REALLY, REALLY GOOD. The whole team is. Pinkel said they were “the best team I have ever seen.” But, Berkstresser did not do himself any favors. He finished 12-of-29 and committed three turnovers. The end of the first-half sack and fumble were killer. Another time the Tigers took over at the 12 after AJ McCarron was sacked and fumbled…the offense did not produce any points. Mizzou’s “spread” offense with him borders on worst in the nation (certainly worst in the SEC.)
Quarterback - F: Berkstresser’s second start – Alabama – is a much tougher task than his first – Arizona State, where he was just a 50% passer. A lot of Qb’s struggle against Alabama. But, Berkstresser also struggled against Vanderbilt last week. Following his 12-for-29 effort Saturday, he is now 21-59 passing (36%) in the last two games. Just woeful. Barring James Franklin’s health the rest of the season, I’d be surprised if Berkstresser ever starts another game at Mizzou. Maty Mauk will be the backup next year.
Speaking of James Franklin, Pinkel stated after the game that, “I don’t know if we’re going to get James back,” he said in reference to the Kentucky game, which has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 27 on ESPNU.
Running Back - C: Kendial Lawrence ripped off a 22-yard run and took a few productive snaps as the wildcat QB, but finished with just 37 yards, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Why is Lawrence getting just 10 carries. Should have ran the ball over and over again. True freshman Russell Hansbrough continues to get the backup touches, but why? Why does Marcus Murphy – who is so dangerous with the ball in his hands – not get the ball in the backfield or on jet sweeps?
Receivers – D: L’Damian Washington caught four passes for 72 yards, but his drop (off a shaky throw) ended in Berkstresser’s first INT of the game. There were other drops as well. When a terribly inaccurate QB gets the ball to you, you have to catch it. QB play has been a major disappointment, but not as disappointing as the receiving core, billed as the strength of the offense. It has been so bad that the leading receiver, Marcus Lucas, has been demoted to second team because of his inconsistency catching the ball. Other than Washington, no other Tiger had more than two catches or 20 yards. There is no downfield passing game and YAC yards are poor. Even TJ Moe, who catches everything, dropped a would-have-been first down pass.
Offensive Line - C-: The line wasn’t any worse than it was any other week, so they do not deserve a failing grade in my opinion. The offensive line’s pass protection was been terribly, horribly, horrendously awful. But, I do believe that this line could be a good run-blocking unit. Brad McNulty got his second start at center, and minus rolling a snap back to Berkstresser, did much better than Mitch Morse’s all-over-the-place like a wild baseball pitcher snapping. They don’t necessarily drive opponents into the ground but they create gaps, creases, and angles. I saw enough well-blocked running plays vs. Alabama to convince me that this group can do it consistently. But, right now, they are just making too many mistakes and are inexperienced. The Tigers started a true freshman, a redshirt freshman and former walk-on and a left tackle playing right tackle alongside sixth-year senior LT Elvis Fisher. As a fan base, we have to be patient with this group, whether it is something you really want to do or not. Only Fisher leaves next year and the long-term outlook is good. They can also be decent in the passing game…but don’t expect anything resembling better than bad this season.
In all, Missouri finished the game with only three yards on 28 carries, thanks to negative-53 yards in sacks.
Defense – D: Alabama ran for 362 yards, 73 on the first play and gained 533 yards. But, the defense did a good job defensively in the second half, but at that point, the game was already over. Alabama gained 311 yards on their first 26 plays – 18-206 rushing. Through the first quarter, ‘Bama had 16 plays for 209 yards, averaging 13.1 yards per play while Mizzou averaged 2.5, gaining 32 yards on 13 plays. Enough said.
Richardson was again all over the place with his 14 tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack. DE’s Michael Sam and Kony Ealy made some plays as well. The linebacking core was awful, missing tackles and otherwise going unnoticed minus Zavier Gooden’s sack and caused fumble of McCarron. The secondary played pretty well. Other than EJ Gaines getting beat on a flea-flicker by just a couple of steps, Alabama did not do much in the passing game, but McCarron threw just five incomplete passes and safety Kenronte Walker over-pursued and missed a tackle on Lacy’s 73-yard TD run on the second play from scrimmage.
The Tigers forced turnovers doubled the Crimson Tide’s season turnover total from three to six. Still, points off? 0.
Alabama also had two 100-yard rushers, led by Lacy’s 178 yards on 18 carries with three TD’s.
Special Teams - C: Marcus Murphy always boost the grade of this group and did it this week with his kickoff return TD. Trey Barrow had two LONG punts and even made a nice tackle on another punt and Andrew Baggett made his only field goal (when Mizzou should have went for it, trailing 28-7) and the Tigers forced a turnover on a punt (if you want to call it that, as the punter dropped the snap and all hell broke loose). But, Alabama blocked a punt, dropping the grade. Every week there is some sort of miscue in the special teams game that cost Mizzou.
Coaching - F: There is no excuse in the Tigers coming out as flat as they did against the nation’s No. 1 team on national TV. NONE. Sure, the Tigers were outclassed by talent and certainly in coaching, but that doesn’t mean the Tigers had to sleepwalk during the first 22 minutes of the game. Maybe, they were stunned by how good Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) really was, or maybe they went into the game knowing they had no chance to win, although Pinkel said before the game that he had “never coached a game I didn’t think we could win.” Maybe that is coach speak. Maybe it isn’t. As a fan, I can’t remember the last game Mizzou played where I thought beforehand that there was no chance at a win. Before the season, I thought this was a game Mizzou could be competitive, but this season has been a shitter and it is getting worse. Is it all on coaching? No. Sources tell me that Pinkel’s personal life (drinking and the DUI; multiple girlfriends across the state and the break-up of his 40-year marriage) has become a major distraction to him and the he is not as focused on coaching as he once was. Maybe, this is as far as Pinkel can take the program. If it is near the end, I did not think it would end like this…I thought he would go out, riding into the sunset…not, this. I also don’t think that is solely his fault, but, ultimately he is the head coach so it rest on him. Offensive coordinator David Yost, who I thought was great last year in adapting the offense to what we had, has been awful this year and is not helping a struggling offense at all. Be creative. Where is the innovation? Defensive coordinator Coach Steck is the only good assistant on the staff and his unit just gave up 533 yards…but, what do you expect when the offense can NOT DO ANYTHING. Maybe the coaching staff is overwhelmed because they did not expect this. As Pinkel always says, no excuses. Injuries, lack of depth and a terrible offensive line has not helped, nor has iffy QB play.
Pinkel is now winless (0-13) against No. 1 AP ranked teams (Oklahoma was No. 1 in the BCS, but No. 3 in the AP in 2010).
“Alabama is a great football team,” Pinkel said. “They dominate everybody they play. That being said, I still think we should have played better.”
Up Next: Missouri has two weeks to prepare for its Oct. 27 homecoming game against Kentucky. If the Tigers want to earn a bowl bid, this is a must win. But there obviously needs to be significant strides made between now and the next game, because as Vanderbilt proved a week ago, Missouri can’t afford to take any SEC opponent lightly.
The Trib: Crimson Tide rolls over Tigers
The Missourian: At 3-4, Missouri looks to improve after break
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri Tigers face Alabama Crimson Tide
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri fans prepare for Alabama game
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Fans endure rain at Missouri football game
The Missourian: Alabama fans take over downtown Columbia
The Missourian: Alabama RV convoy stakes claim near MU
Post-Dispatch: No. 1 Alabama beats Mizzou 42-10
Post-Dispatch: Pinkel: Alabama may be best team he’s seen
Post-Dispatch: Bama’s run game finds its footing against Mizzou
Post-Dispatch: Marcus Murphy sets record with 4th TD return
Fox Sports MW: ‘Bama rout casts doubt on Mizzou’s SEC progress
Team Speed Kills: Alabama 42, Missouri 10: A Few Injury Scares, But the Game Was Never in Doubt
Al.com: No. 1 Alabama storms to 42-10 victory over Missouri
Al.com: No. 1 Alabama 42, Missouri 10: Grading the Tide
Al.com: Optimistic prognosis for A.J. McCarron’s twisted knee has Crimson Tide relieved
Al.com: VIDEO: Fast start, strong finish please Tide center Barrett Jones
Al.com: Eddie Lacy bruises hand, Christion Jones sprains ankle in rout at Missouri
Al.com: Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon spark top-ranked Tide past Missouri with electrifying runs
Al.com: As long as A.J. McCarron keeps getting up, Alabama won’t go down
Al.com: Loss of Alabama running back Dee Hart felt on special teams, Nick Saban says
Al.com: VIDEO: ‘We haven’t had a running back have a big run in a long time,’ Tide’s Eddie Lacy says
Al.com: VIDEO: See what Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri had to say after a 42-10 victory at Missouri
Al.com: VIDEO: See what Tide LB Adrian Hubbard had to say after 42-10 victory at Missouri
Al.com: VIDEO: Alabama 42, Missouri 10: Postgame breakdown