To say the 2021 version of the Missouri Tigers has so far been a bit disappointing would be an understatement to most fans. With close shoot-out losses to Kentucky and Boston College and an embarrassing loss to Tennessee, the Tigers are 3-3 and 0-2 in the SEC. Mizzou's wins are against middlin' Central Michigan and North Texas State and FCS member( and my alma mater) Southeast Missouri State.
Most of us were hoping the Tigers would be 5-1 at this point. If one play had been different in the losses to Kentucky and Boston College, they certainly could have been 4-2. But here we are.
Texas A&M is next up for the Tigers is Texas A&M, who are coming off a huge upset victory over Alabama. On Saturday, the Aggies come to Columbia with a 4-2 record, but only 1-2 in the SEC, with losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Now with the Aggies riding high, the question for the Tigers is can they turn this thing around on Saturday? It won't be easy, and there will have to be improvements across the board. However, here are three hopes for the Tigers this weekend.
Under new Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks, the Mizzou defense, needless to say, has been an absolute disaster. So far, it has given up 24 points to Central Michigan, 35 to Kentucky, 41 to Boston College, 62 to Tennessee, and 35 to North Texas. Shoot, they even gave up 28 to SEMO.
This defense is now a bottom-five FBS defense, and if anything, it looks like they have regressed as the season has went along. There isn't a defensive category they look competitive in.
Nevertheless, to state the obvious, Mizzou's defense is going to have to get much better and quickly. I know Mizzou lost some key defensive pieces from last year's team, and Coach Drink had to dip into the Transfer Portal to get some help. But I can't believe the talent is this bad. It's also hard to believe Steve Wilks and his defensive staff are also this bad. Although his experience has been primarily in the NFL, Wilks has a successful resume.
Hopefully, the change in the defensive line coach and inside linebacker before the North Texas game will start to pay dividends against the Aggies. It's all we've got going on.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher finally earned part of the lucrative extension he signed at the start of the season last Saturday. Fisher will now be making over $95 million over the next 10 years and only trails Nick Saban as the highest-paid coach in college football.
Before last Saturday's game against the Crimson Tide, many Aggie fans had to be wondering if the A&M administration had jumped the gun on this extension. Nonetheless, A&M's stunning 41-38 win over 'Bama has at least temporarily restored some faith in Fisher with the fan base.
Let's hope there's a hangover from last Saturday's win, which extends to this Saturday in Columbia. In fact, the hangover effect may be Mizzou's best hope. Could the Aggies be overlooking the Tigers? It is certainly possible.
Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Well, it can't hurt.
To wrap up....
This is my first post for Gateway City Sports, and I appreciate the opportunity they have given me to write about the Mizzou Tigers. I have been a big fan since the late 60s and look forward to writing here more about the Tigers.
It wasn't my intent to come across as snarky or sarcastic during this piece. I haven't given up on Coach Drinkwitz or this team, and I hope the Tigers can pull off the upset on Saturday. The offense is explosive, and they have one of the best field goal kickers in the country.
It will require patience on the part of the fan base as Coach Drink builds his program. There are going to be ups and downs over the next few years. Don't forget about the early years of Gary Pinkel.