Alldredge opened his postgame interview saying he had a rough first half. The D-line didn't do him any favors letting everything get into the second level, but I thought more than anything he was overpursuing the ball. Maybe a little too amped up. I thought he settled in nicely in the second half. Same for Rakestraw, who was clearly being targeted on that first series. Evans had a strong debut. Made two impressive plays on the ball without getting called for interference.
Mizzou updated his rushing stats shortly after the game because one carry was mistakenly given to a different player. He finished with 203 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards.
I'd say the day's best players were Badie, Akayleb Evans, Mekhi Wingo, Blaze Alldredge (in the second half), Mevis and J.C. Carlies. Mevis is excellent and should push for All-SEC honors.
If you go back to the Post-Dispatch season preview, I picked the Tigers to start slow - 2-2 through September with losses to Kentucky and Boston College - but finish strong at 8-4. A 7-5 season wouldn't surprise me at all. A 6-6 finish wouldn't stun me. They're going to have some growing pains in some areas - and other areas that just aren't that good. Eli Drinkwitz has been subtly trying to temper the expectations for the last few months. It's no secret that internally Mizzou knows it's not positioned to truly challenge for the SEC East yet. He made a point on his radio show last night that the fact that two players in the secondary - slot corner Kris Abrams-Draine and safety Shawn Robinson - were both offensive players this time last year indicates just how short they are on established talent and depth.
Badie and Young are clearly 1 and 2. There's no doubt. They'll get their touches. But he believes you need three solid backs for every game, including more of a power back who can get you a yard on fourth and 1. He indicated this week that Badie and Young don't fit that profile. They're trying to figure out who No. 3 might be. It basically comes down to Dawson Downing, Michael Cox or BJ Harris. Taj Butts is another back on the team, but Harris was clearly ahead of him in camp.
I'm not battling anyone, except maybe Louisville traffic tomorrow afternoon.
As I wrote about earlier this week, the third-down struggles came down to mistakes on first and second down. Bazelak completed all but one pass on his third-down throws - they just didn't move the chains. But he was constantly in third and long. The average yardage needed on those third-down passing plays was more than 10. That's a lot to ask of your quarterback 10 times a game. The line needs to be better on those early downs.
I don't think so, because I don't think this offense is suited to play that style against a good defense. I would be willing to wager Tyler Badie won't rush for 200 yards at Kentucky - nor will Mizzou control the line of scrimmage like they did in last year's game against UK. If Kentucky's offense is legit and can stretch the field vertically, Mizzou will need more possessions to keep pace - unless, of course, MU shuts down the Cats. I don't expect that to happen.
Reporters get to watch about 20 minutes of one practice from one corner of the two fields the team uses. In other words, it's not a situation where I can capture the "vibe." The players interviewed said all the right things about addressing what needs to be addressed. We'll find out Saturday if that's possible.
Winless in the SEC? I'd say about 1% chance.
Trajan Jeffcoat and Isaiah McGuire are BIG defensive ends at 276 & 266, respectively. That's plenty big for a four-man front. Wingo and Whiteside aren't tall by any means, but this is football not basketball: Low man wins. I don't think size is the problem along the D-line.
Freshman O-lineman J'Marion Gooch left the team recently. He's the only scholarship player departure I can think of off the top of my head. A handful more left over the summer that cleared room for this year's scholarship count.
Drinkwitz didn't want to get into the details, but basically said some of MU's traveling party will have to bus to St. Louis to fly out while some can still fly out of Columbia. It sounds like with only one runway available the airport can't handle a plane big enough to carry the entire traveling party. He mentioned that it has to do with the weight of the plane. I believe the construction will be done by the end of the calendar year. It's a bit of an inconvenience, but it's not like the team has to make the seven-hour drive from Columbia to Lexington like yours truly will make tomorrow.
Kentucky wants to be balanced in its approach. Just based on what we saw Saturday, my hunch is they'll have more success running the ball on this defense.
No, Mizzou is back up to 85.