Things wouldn’t always come easy for the Tigers as some early offensive miscues helped keep South Carolina in the game. In the end, Kelly Bryant’s slow start would not hinder the outcome as the Mizzou ground game (led by Bryant and Larry Rountree III) would help grind out the much-needed conference win.
“Probably as domanting as a performance defensively as I’ve been around.” Odom said following the win. “Every defensive guy that got on the field executed.”
5 takeaways following Mizzou’s conference opening win
- This defense is…good? After giving up 297 yards rushing to Wyoming in the opener, Missouri has given up 86 rushing yards…total. South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski torched Alabama’s secondary a week ago and their offense accounted for almost 500 total yards against the Tide. The Tiger defense won the turnover battle and battered Hilinski frequently. Through four games, Missouri currently sits as the 6th ranked defense nationally, good for first in the SEC. Not to mention Ronnell Perkins’ 100 yard pick-six, the longest in team history and a play that changed the momentum of the game and put it practically out of reach.
- Kelly Bryant overcame LOTS of adversity. After missing open receivers and throwing a near pick-six, Kelly Bryant got it together (especially on the ground). “It was tough. Bryant said. “We were struggling. I wasn’t throwing it the way I wanted to. I had to take a step back and just breath and settle in as the game went on.” Bryant settled in indeed and ran for 77 yards, threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The Missouri offense is going to go as Bryant goes this season so it’s nice to see him overcome early struggles in a key conference game.
- This team has a floor of 8-4 and a ceiling of 10-2. With remaining games against Troy, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas , Missouri is going to pile up wins. The question will be: can they avoid another Wyoming-esq loss and take care of business the rest of the way? Obviously you can’t expect to win at Georgia and Florida appears to be finding its way and is ranked in the top 10 so each game will be difficult. A 9-win season still shows progress from a season ago and there are plenty of winnable games left on the schedule to make this a reality.
- The crowd was not great. Folks, it’s a college football problem, not a Mizzou problem. Unless you are talking about blue blood programs (even many of them are seeing empty seats) attending games just isn’t as important as it once was. Many casual fans will attend games if: their wife isn’t making them do yard work, their kids don’t have a soccer game, the weather isn’t too hot or too cold or too wet and their deer stand is already set up for November. Missouri had 52,000 there for a conference home opener in which it didn’t rain a drop during the game but the threat kept many people away.
- The bye is week is coming at a good time. Barry Odom spoke after the game about his team needing the week off for health reasons. Quarterback Kelly Bryant has taken quite a few shots in the first quarter of the season although, overall, Missouri has been pretty lucky with injuries. After the bye, the Tigers will welcome Troy, a 2-1 team that has a home loss to Southern Miss, but blowout wins over Akron and Campbell.