The story of the 2015 Missouri Tigers was simply that their offense couldn’t match up with the caliber that their defense set out. ON Saturday, that narrative seemed to repeat itself as the Tigers could only muster up three points against the West Virginia Mountaineers, who clobbered their guests in Morgantown 26-11 in the season opener.
Missouri’s defense wasn’t much up to par either with the standard they had set which perhaps makes this even more tough to swallow. They were gashed on the run often by running backs Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford who combined for 162 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. On the whole, WVU rushed for 241 yards while Mizzou could only pick up 180 yards on the ground.
Here’s what we learned from this matchup:
1. Missouri’s offense is still a weakness: West Virginia hasn’t been noted for its defensive efforts in its time in the Big 12, and yet Mizzou could only get roughly 280 total yards through the air and on the ground. Drew Lock was just 23-for-51 on pass attempts with a yards per attempt of 5.5, and had just one passing touchdowns on the day. The Tigers running backs were bottled up with no Tiger rusher eclipsing more than 70 rushing yards and while J’Mon Moore and Chris Black had themselves a day at receiver, they were still held relatively in check. This was a dismal effort to say the least that was padded in garbage time for Missouri and not one that will inspire many.
2. The Tigers run defense had a concerning effort: Missouri’s run defense was 14th in S&P+ last season. Allowing 240+ yards on the ground is not the way you want to start the ensuing campaign, but that was what went down. Consistently, WVU rushers were able to gash the defensive line and the linebackers at the second level and run freely. The competition will only get stiffer in the SEC so Missouri will have to shore up their defensive line soon. Otherwise, history could repeat itself later on in the year, and it could get even uglier.
3. Missouri will have to trudge along: While it was a concerning and disappointing effort from Missouri, the Tigers were hardly favorites to take down WVU. The Mountaineers took it to them but with the position that they are in, Missouri can only hope for the better going forward against their upcoming competition. Plenty of opportunities will present themselves for improvement to occur, so for now, the Tigers can only trudge forward and hope that the best and not the worst is yet to come.