TIGER TRACKER 2: Missouri (2-0) seeks to avenge last year’s defeat to Purdue

Cliches. Buzzwords. Coach speak. Whatever you call those familiar football phrases, Barry Odom was full of them in his weekly press conference ahead of Missouri’s week 3 matchup with the Purdue Boilermakers.

“We understand and know we have a long way to go, in a number of areas.

“It will be a great challenge on Saturday night, and we look forward to it.

“We had a pretty good practice today, but we need to be even better tomorrow.

“We just try to go 1-0 this week…..that’s where I want to be.”

Odom may not always present the most interesting sound bites, but he knows the correct words to say leading into his first road test of the young season. Yes, Barry O has learned how the play the game. He looks a bit more comfortable atop the podium than in years prior. Heck, he even has established some running jokes with the local media. Odom can also spot the traps more easily in his third campaign as head coach of the Missouri Tigers football program. Case in point, he perfectly addressed a question that he knew would be coming sometime during his Tuesday press conference:

Would you use last year’s Purdue game to motivate the guys?

“We’ve already addressed that one so many times that we don’t really need to go back there. They know what’s out there. They know what happened that Saturday afternoon and the lessons that came from it…to learn from that mistake and use it to our advantage,” Odom coolly replied.

Odom’s calm — and frankly, boring — demeanor while addressing the media is exactly the kind you’d like to see if you’re a Missouri fan in 2018. Barry’s football team is 2-0 for the first time during his tenure, but they cannot become overconfident before facing a third non-conference opponent……and they certainly cannot take any win for granted. And while guaranteeing a win might be interesting, the bland, cookie-cutter, one-week-at-a-time tone will do just fine for this Mizzou fan/blogger.

For those of you out there who don’t remember last year’s meeting with Purdue, Missouri was on the wrong side of a 35-3 beatdown at Faurot Field that derailed the entire season. Were it not for the Tigers’ six straight wins in the softer half of the schedule, things could have looked very, very bleak for Barry O in year two.

In last year’s meeting, Purdue out-gained Missouri 477 to 203 yards, won the turnover margin comfortably as Mizzou gave the ball over three times — including a muffed punt, and won the possession game as they held the ball for 43:43 to Mizzou’s 16:17. By halftime, it felt like nearly all of the 53,000 supporters on hand had fled from Memorial Stadium as the Tigers were in a 28-3 deficit, and would not score a point for the remainder of the game.

There’s no getting around it. It was a horrendous defeat. At times it looked like the 2017 Tigers had given up on Barry Odom. Lessons to learn, indeed.

This year’s team looks to avenge that loss, but more importantly, they want to continue playing solid football. The schedule will not get any easier after facing the Boilermakers, and a road win would offer an opportunity to gain momentum before conference play. Here’s what lies ahead for Mizzou as they get ready to kickoff against Purdue tonight in West Lafayette at 6:30 (CST).

dl3

Drew Lock is slinging the football

Which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The senior from Lee’s Summit, MO has led the offense by passing for 289 yards against UT-Martin in week 1 and 398 against Wyoming in week 2 in what would wind up being two comfortable victories at home. On the season so far, Lock’s thrown for 687 yards, completed just under 75% of his passes (52/70, 74.3%), while averaging 9.8 yards per clip and boasting a TD/INT of 8/0. And, just for good measure, Lock has rushed for 56 yards and a rushing TD. The most impressive number that Lock’s put up, however, might be a 0.

Lock’s been sacked 0 times so far this season, which may be a testament to his improved awareness/pocket presence and outstanding pass blocking by the experienced offensive line. #3 has looked comfortable and dominated games against weaker opponents thus far. His performance has led to attention on the national stage, and if he manages to orchestrate a “signature” performance against one of the big boys in the SEC, he may emerge as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.

Tiger defense looks confident, wants to create more turnovers

Quite a difference one year and a few coaching tweaks can make. Ryan Walters‘ defense has looked solid and has been able to keep inferior opponents at bay through two weeks. The depth of the front seven has proven to be incredibly valuable. Shuffling in waves of different defenders, particularly on the defensive line, will be key for this defense to stay fresh and compete in games this season. The defense forced and recovered a fumble in each of their first two games, and currently holds a 1.0 turnover margin on the season.

The Tiger secondary, perhaps the biggest question mark leading into the season, has looked rather impressive as well. Odom praised sophomore corner Adam Sparks (who looks like he’s improved greatly from last season) in his weekly press conference. Sparks, who was once a Purdue commit, is poised to have another great performance and to pick up the Tigers’ first interception of the season tonight.

Who will break out as Mizzou’s lead back?

At this point, no one knows. Odom indicated that he will use all three pieces of his running back trio “in some way” against Purdue this weekend. Damarea Crockett, Larry Roundtree and Tyler Badie are averaging 3.7/3.8/3.7 yards per carry respectively this season. All three hope to make the most of their opportunities in a matchup that could be pass-heavy against Purdue’s weak secondary.

Everybody likes predictions, right?

While I didn’t bother to pick the UT-Martin/Wyoming matchups, I think this segment could use a few more hot takes – so I will wrap it with my prediction going forward:

Line: MIZ -6.0

Prediction: MIZ wins, and covers, 49-10

Ship. The. Roll. On the Tigers tonight. MIZ

 

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