Mizzou now has one simple goal: make a bowl game

There are currently more questions than answers about the 2016 Missouri Tigers as they limp haplessly into a much needed bye week.

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Coming off a 42-7 loss at LSU where Mizzou was largely non-competitive for the duration of the contest , it’s time to press the re-set button on this years’ expectations. The Tigers allowed an LSU offense (which had previously been pedestrian at best) to amass a school record 634 yards  while Missouri’s own offense remained lifeless throughout the game.

“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” Mizzou head coach Barry Odom said after the loss. “We’ve got a choice here on the bye week to improve and get better.” 

With the ugly loss at LSU now in the rear view, the Tigers now search for answers on how to continue to improve under this new staff. At 2-3 and with head coach Barry Odom still without a signature win on the season, it becomes imperative that things start swinging in the right direction as Mizzou hits the meat of its SEC conference schedule- starting with a tough game in Gainesville a week from Saturday.

With an almost non-existent running game, the success of the offense will still remain heavily on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Drew Lock, who has improved vastly but is still seeking consistency against top-level competition.

isaiah-mckenzie-game-winner-20yd-td-late-da-7-16-rob-saye-copyright-wide-1280x990The real head-scratcher so far, however, has been the play of the defense; a unit that ranked 6th nationally a year ago but has struggled mightily in 2016. New defensive coordinator DeMonte Cross has installed a new read-and-react scheme which has been tough for this unit to grasp thus far and the once-proud defensive line has been gashed repeatedly by opposing running backs through the first five games this season.

The truth is, the Missouri fan base is absolutely ravenous for something good to happen with this football team and for the athletic department itself. After three home games, there have been an average of only 53,000 fans in attendance, a very low number when compared to the attendance of years past. If Barry Odom is going to re-vitalize some of that excitement that was generated by back-to-back SEC East Championships in ’13 and ’14, it is of the utmost importance that this team find its way to six wins and bowl eligibility.

With over 40 bowl games on the docket, getting to play in Shreveport or Birmingham is not exactly an accomplishment that will mark a return to glory, but it will show improvement from 2015 and give the fans something to look forward to as the current regime continues to get their bearings in the SEC. The extra practices and national exposure (regardless of where the games are played) could be vital to the program going forward.  With games coming up against Middle Tennessee , Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina, the Tigers may still have to scratch and claw to get to that six win mark as beating Florida, Tennessee or Arkansas seems unlikely at the present time.  Clearly, the three games against lower-level East division foes will determine the success (or failure) of Odom’s first season in Columbia.

57de970c61acd-imageWe’ll respond, we’ll bounce back,” Odom said stoically. “We’re at a point in the season here where we have a chance to continue to work and improve and build on some of the good things that we’ve done.

 

Avatar of Clint Switzer
Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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