COLUMBIA, Mo. – By halftime, Missouri led SEMO 38-0. The Tigers scored on all six of their first-half drives, while the Redhawks failed to make it past midfield and converted just three first downs in the first half.
Mizzou won by a final of 59-28, easing up by giving backup players a shot with some in-game action. The performance established the clear talent disparity between the SEC and FCS programs, but head coach Eliah Drinkwitz needed to see sound play from his guys on both sides of the ball in the week following a loss.
“Proud of the way our guys started out,” said Drinkwitz. “I thought they came out, really all week with the right mindset, and attention to detail and focus on practice, and you know, just challenged them to take that to the field today, and they really did that.”
Tyler Badie scored three touchdowns on just 11 touches, including one from 49 yards out to give the Tigers the opening lead. 12 Tigers caught passes, and Connor Bazelak only had to play in the first half to secure the win. Brady Cook and Tyler Macon both tacked on touchdown passes of their own, and Michael Cox’s 55-yard touchdown run encapsulated a day that saw involvement from several different contributors.
Here’s the main takeaways for Mizzou fans from the past week of college football.
Mizzou offense building upon itself
Like previous weeks, there wasn’t an offensive figure, with exception to Badie, who stood out. No receiver eclipsed 100 receiving yards, and the quarterback production came from a multitude of weapons. But, it generated a juggernaut for the Redhawks defense that looked completely overwhelmed by Bazelak’s ability to find open receivers.
Smart decisions were the name of the game for Bazelak, and he stretched the field a couple of times on deep balls to Mookie Cooper and D’ionte “Boo” Smith. With Cooper looking healthier each week, the offense is making strides to compete against tougher defenses moving forward.
The offensive line play is also improving. Javon Foster and Hyrin White stepped up in the absence of Case Cook on Saturday, consistently giving Bazelak a clean pocket to make throws. Against a weaker opponent, Mizzou followed the game plan and never wavered, and Drinkwitz will look to get a performance of this level each week.
Take the second-half defensive performance with a grain of salt
All of SEMO’s 28 points came in the second half, with defensive backups in the game being called upon for valuable reps. 77 different Tigers took the field on Saturday, according to Drinkwitz. Many of them hadn’t been exposed to in-game action ever before, and growing pains are to be expected upon debut.
“You take off the shock factor of playing in a college football game,” said Drinkwitz. You know, I mean, a lot of these guys, it’s the first time they’ve ever done that, experienced it, the nerves they’re gonna have, and then there’s a reality check to it too. Like, there’s an, ‘oh, okay, so I’ve got to improve, I gotta do this. You know, maybe there is a huge difference between what I think I am and what I’ve got to be in order to play,’ and I think that’s going to show up in tape.”
A lot of their participation has been limited to special teams play, so ingesting a defensive game plan hasn’t been the top focus during game weeks.
“We were playing freshmen, true freshmen, who have literally not been on the defensive side of the ball all week because they’ve been running scout team,” said Drinkwitz. “We would’ve had a better chance to run SEMO’s defense against SEMO’s offense right there. I mean, they hadn’t been on the defensive side of the ball except for fall camp.”
At the end of the day, Drinkwitz noted the improvement from his defense, even if everything wasn’t perfect.
“I thought we were much better destroying blocks,” said Drinkwitz. “I thought we were much better tackling. We still had a couple of contain issues. Really, the rushing yards in the first half were on passes that we weren’t keeping contained, which is a nemesis that’s going to have to get fixed, and continue to focus on details with that. But, you know, for the most part, in the first half, we shut them out… but obviously, in the second half, not good enough.”
Florida cements position as competitor in SEC East with close fight against Alabama
The Gators entered Saturday’s home game against Alabama without a key defensive contributor, losing starting linebacker Ventrell Miller for the year to a torn biceps tendon. Down 21-3 by the end of the first quarter, it appeared as though Florida was in for a long day against the Crimson Tide.
But, Emory Jones rallied the offense in a comeback effort that eventually fell just short, losing 31-29. Jones stayed on the field as the lone quarterback, demonstrating head coach Dan Mullen’s confidence in him as the starter, and he ran for 76 yards and a touchdown in addition to 194 yards passing. The Florida offense stuck to its strengths and gained most of its yards via the run game, and if not for a missed extra point in the second quarter, the Gators would’ve had a chance to tie the game after their final touchdown without going for a two-point conversion. The Tigers will need to continue improving its run defense before Florida comes to Columbia in November if they want any shot at competing for a win.
Boston College wins with subpar quarterback play
Dennis Grosel completed just five of his 13 passes in Saturday’s 28-3 Boston College win over Temple, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Grosel also ran for a touchdown, securing more rushing yards (47) than he did passing (34). For what it’s worth, Grosel completed 11 of 14 passes for 179 yards against UMass the week prior, so the transition into preparing as the starter may have been a bit jarring.
It’s difficult to gauge where BC is as a program from its first three games, playing against an FCS team and two Group of 5 teams with a combined record of 1-8. But, the Mizzou defense will come out prepared to face an Eagles team that’s got all of its bearings in order, regardless if that’s the case. The Tigers face Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Saturday at 11 a.m.