At this rate, Missouri won’t have to worry about locker-room finger pointing, the type of quarrel that can occur when one side of the ball is outperforming the other.
In the Tigers’ 35-3 embarrassing loss to Purdue on Saturday before a dwindling crowd at Faurot Field, the blame should be shared equally between the offense and defense.
“To see us come out and perform like that, it’s just kind of smacked us in the face,” running back Damarea Crockett said. “Reality smacked us in the face.”
It started early, and it stung.
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The Boilermakers scored on their first three possessions with drives that covered 75, 87 and 96 yards. The second one was particularly humiliating for Mizzou.
Purdue had a touchdown called back by a penalty, converted a third-and-11 and would have lost a fumble if Missouri cornerback DeMarkus Acy hadn’t run past the ball. Boilermakers running back Tario Fuller ran untouched through a Missouri defense from 36 yards for the score.
Then there was the Tigers offensive possession in the second quarter that produced three false starts and a holding penalty on four snaps.
At least that slowed the proceedings for the Tigers, who are wed to a hurry-up style offense that when it works, produces a bounty of points and yards.
But when it doesn’t, like Saturday, the scheme puts the Tigers at a distinct disadvantage. Possessions last fewer than two minutes, which puts the defense quickly back on the field.
Purdue, using two quarterbacks, had four touchdowns before the Tigers had four first downs.
Missouri coach Barry Odom was at loss for an explanation, for all of it.
“We had a really good week of preparation, a really good week of practice and obviously preformed very poorly,” Odom said.
Trailing 28-0, Missouri gave itself an opportunity. Safety Thomas Wilson was in the right spot to pick off a deflected pass with 28 seconds remaining in the half and set up the Tigers around midfield. Quarterback Drew Lock and the MU offense showed some spark for the first time and drove into field-goal range. Tucker McCann’s 29-yarder was good on the final play.
The Tigers got the ball to open the second half, and with a little momentum at halftime, Mizzou could perhaps ride a quick score into a rally.
Mizzou had made a change at the break. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel left the sideline to call the plays from the press box.
But disaster greeted the Tigers. The second play resulted in a Lock interception, and a few plays later Purdue was in the end zone once again.
The scoring was finished for the day but only because Tigers’ wide receiver J’Mon Moore had what appeared to be a touchdown reception snatched out of his grasp by Kamal Hardy in the fourth quarter.
The pick contributed to Lock’s woeful final numbers, 12 of 28 for 133 yards and two interceptions. The Tigers added 70 rushing yards to edge over 200 total yards for the game. This from a team that posted 815 total yards, including 521 passing from Lock in the opener against Missouri State.
Lock, too, found it difficult to explain.
“If you think it’s going to be a 35-3 game I don’t think you should necessarily be playing football,” Lock said. “We were positive coming into it, liked our game plan.”
Mizzou got burned defensively in the game against Missouri State, but improved the next week in a loss to South Carolina. The Tigers regressed on that side of the ball against the Boilermakers. Purdue quarterbacks David Blough and Elijah Sindelar combined to complete 26 of 34 for 272 yards and a touchdown each, and Purdue rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
Nobody on the Mizzou side saw it coming. Auburn visits Columbia next week.
“It’s time to produce some results,” Odom said.