The key: West Virginia outgained Mizzou 161-66 in the period, including scoring drives of 60 and 88 yards. The Tigers’ longest drive went 18 yards.
The key: A fumble by West Virginia’s backup quarterback, redshirt sophomore William Crest Jr., set up Mizzou at the 7-yard line. The Tigers came up empty after two no-gain runs, an incompletion and a shanked 24-yard field-goal try by freshman Tucker McCann.
The key: West Virginia controlled the clock for 10 minutes, 19 seconds in the third quarter, outgaining Missouri 185-36 and outscoring the Tigers 10-0.
The key: The game was pretty much decided, but Missouri had some fun on fourth and 1 at West Virginia’s 36. Senior defensive tackle Josh “Juggernaut” Augusta, the heaviest player on the Tigers’ roster at 355 pounds, converted with a 1-yard dive.
The passing game averaged only 5.3 yards per attempt, the inability to establish the run remains troublesome and 11 points won’t win many games. The tempo was clearly faster. Missouri, which averaged 64.2 plays and never had more than 83 in a game last season, ran 100 plays from scrimmage and averaged 4.62 yards per play compared to 4.38 in 2015.
We’re grading on a curve a bit, because expectations on defense were massively higher than for the offense. The Tigers gave up 5.8 yards per play, allowing 241 yards rushing and 253 yards passing. It wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
Freshman kicker Tucker McCann badly missed two field goals, sophomore punter Corey Fatony had a couple of mis-hits and the return game remained absent.
The substitution pattern was indecipherable at times. Key defenders were out during game-defining series and offensive switches occasionally blunted a drive’s momentum.
Player of the game: Senior linebacker Michael Scherer racked up a game-high 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and made several critical stops that kept Mizzou in the game during the first half.
Reason to hope: Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock shook off a slow start and went 8 of 14 for 141 yards in the second quarter. He finished 23 of 51 for 280 yards, all career-highs, with one touchdown and no interceptions. There were some drops mixed in and he added nine carries for 29 yards rushing.
Reason to mope: The defense allowed more than 369 yards just once last season, giving up 430 against Mississippi State in a monsoon. West Virginia totaled 494 yards and six long scoring drives that undoubtedly set off alarm bells for new defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross.
Looking ahead: Missouri opens the home portion of the schedule against Eastern Michigan, a 61-14 winner Saturday against Mississippi Valley State, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org