By Logan Reinhart
Though it looks like a group of supermen at home o Faurot field, Missouri football’s biggest kryptonite appear to be traveling. After an upset loss to Vanderbilt (2-5), the Tigers are now 0-2 on the road, and look to overcome their greatest problem this Saturday against Kentucky in Lexington. Mizzou has a recent history of underperforming on the road, but head coach Barry Odom wants nothing more but to move forward.
“We are not going to run from it, and we aren’t gonna get everything we want,” Odom said. “[Kentucky] understands that they have to play a good game.”
Mizzou was on a hot streak until Saturday, where Vanderbilt broke an 11-game streak of scoring more than 30 points or more. This was a combination of rushing yards, passing and, most of all, defensive conversions. Mizzou’s star tight end Albert Okwuegbanum has been one major player that, in some people’s eyes, hasn’t been utilized to his full potential. Nevertheless, he’s a star tight end and Barry Odom has a lot of plans for him.
“He has the ability to make plays and he needs to make them consistently but we need to feed him a little bit,” Odom said.
Albert O, as many fans call him, is a larger than life tight end and someone who isn’t afraid to hit or receive the ball. Saturday’s game against Kentucky will be a test for the junior, as Kentucky has many key defensive backs ready to guard the 6-foot-5 pass catcher.
Another key factor Saturday is Missouri’s ability to stop the run. Kentucky faced Georgia Saturday and, while they faced a downpour of rain in Athens, their ability to run the ball put Georgia in a very tight spot. Odom said he isn’t worried about Kentucky’s ground game, but his main focus is to keep the corners and safeties alive in the backfield.
“Being a cornerback is more about the mental preparation rather than the physical,” Odom said. “If you play 70 snaps and 65 are good those other five could be disastrous.”
This will not only be a test for Missouri’s linebackers, as they face two skilled quarterbacks in Sawyer Smith and Lynn Bowden Jr., along a versatile RB in Asim Rose. It’s still a test for the secondary to stay “awake” in the game and get involved.
Tucker McCann has been a reliable kicker for theTigers for several years, with a career field goal percentage of 71.8% in three years as Missouri’s starter. That number would be greatly improved if not for his struggle this season. McCann might Missouri’s best chance for winning on Saturday, but he recently has struggled to make points that matter- possibly because Missouri hasn’t relied on him as much as last year.
“When you get down in the area you have to come back with 3 points … Tucker’s going to find his way,” Odom said.
Mizzou will be tested this week, as they are deep into a long stretch away from home. Still, the Tigers plan for an away game like they do every game: focus on football. Many people can say that the penalties against Vanderbilt is why Mizzou lost, but that didn’t stop Barry Odom from putting an end to it right away.
“We lost emotional stability and we didn’t have it … we won’t stand for it moving forward and its not Mizzou football,” Odom said.
Odom has never beaten Kentucky in his three previous tries, and Missouri has dropped four straight overall to the Wildcats. UK is the first test, but other November challenges loom large against Georgia Nov. 9 and Florida Nov. 16.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org