The last time I wrote about Mizzou football, the team was just coming off of a three game winning streak to begin the season. I was feeling pretty high and mighty about my Tigers to say the least. Each of those wins (TN-Martin, Wyoming and Purdue) all came with multi-touchdown, lights out performances from Drew Lock. I predicted a 10-2 season for the Tigers at best, 8-4 more realistically. I hit the nail on the head with that one, which makes me think I have a future in gambling. But regardless, I think it's important to go back and reflect on the season as a whole and many of the implications for next year.
This Team Deserved To Be Ranked
I don't necessarily like arguments that revolve around strength of schedule because college football has an inherent problem with sample size. Unlike the NFL, you don't get to play everyone in your conference. For instance, Mizzou did not play 5 teams in the SEC and only played Alabama and Arkansas in the SEC West. However, it is impossible to ignore that Mizzou had the sixth toughest schedule in CFB this year. For context, that's a tougher schedule than Michigan, Ohio State and Auburn.
That has to count for something. And it did.At the end of Week 13, this Tuesday the 27th, the College Football Playoff Committee ranked Mizzou 24th. The Tigers fought hard this season with two losses to #1 Alabama and #2 Georgia. Of the four losses they received this year, three of them came to ranked opponents. Not too shabby if you ask me.
We Need A QB Next Year
Drew Lock will no doubt go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Mizzou history. In 2017, Drew Lock threw 44 touchdowns, tied for 22nd of all CFB quarterbacks. For context, that's only 14 off of the record. This year, Lock slowed down a bit, only notching 25 touchdowns. I account that to two things: a more evenly spread offense and tougher defenses in this year's schedule. In 2017, Mizzou rushed for 16 touchdowns at 486 carries. This year, the team rushed for 26 touchdowns at 511 carries.
Honestly, Lock was a god send after Maty Mauk left the team in disarray following his indefinite suspension. But Barry Odom's offense relies on a competent quarterback and there's too much momentum to lose on a fledging young quarterback. That being said, there's a certain young transfer quarterback who might have their eyes on Mizzou. Kelly Bryant, who chose to transfer from Clemson earlier this year. The rumor mill has been spinning with Mizzou, Auburn, Mississippi State and North Carolina all rumored to be potential landing destinations for Bryant. He's reported to make his transfer destination announcement on December 4th, and until then the future of the Mizzou quarterback position will remain a mystery.
Pay. Barry. Odom
I cannot stress this enough. Keeping Barry Odom as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers is an integral piece of continuing their success. The turnaround job he's done in the past three years has honestly been astounding. Beginning with a 4-8 record in 2016, the Tigers have continued to improve year-over-year. We have so many players that should be returning next year including Jalen Knox, Larry Rountree, Albert O and potentially Damarea Crockett. A good team needs consitancy, especially from the coaching front.
At just over $2 million, Barry Odom is the lowest paid coach in the SEC. Only five teams in the SEC had a better record than Mizzou this year, six from a strictly conference record. Things have gotten more concerning, as reports have come out that mutual interest has risen between Odom and Louisville for Odom to accept the head coaching job at Louisville. The three sources in the report are anonymous, which alleviates some concern. But regardless, these rumors coming up in the first place are room for worry. A few million dollars here or there to help the job security certainly wouldn't help.