The observation hit Missouri senior tight end Jason Reese before kickoff Saturday. Moments before the Missouri football team had even taken the field, actually. It reached cornerback Logan Cheadle even sooner, in the pregame locker room.
A lack of energy. Little noise. Or, as Reese simply put it, “flat.”
So in the process of solving the issues plaguing the Missouri football team after back-to-back losses and a 1-2 start — and coach Barry Odom outlined several Tuesday — Reese starts there.
“It just wasn’t anything I’ve seen from the previous nine weeks — that’s what I’m saying,” Reese said. “I’m going to do everything in my nature and my leadership skills to make sure those guys aren’t like that again.”
The message Reese and several of his teammates delivered to media Tuesday apparently echoed one at a players-only meeting Monday.
The team met with Odom in a voluntary setting before gathering among themselves afterward. Some were more forthcoming of the details of the meeting than others.
But what became readily clear is the most vocal of the bunch was a freshman.
Linebacker Aubrey Miller, who receives most of his playing time on special teams, spoke the loudest. The tone of the speech was establishing a sense of urgency.
“It’s good to hear that people care,” Cheadle said. “Guys aren’t just sitting here, especially the guys that maybe aren’t in the game. You get to see what they see on the sidelines, the body language they see on the sidelines, what they see from us on big plays or things like that.”
Miller wasn’t the only one who spoke, but multiple players said it was his message that resonated most. He addressed that aforementioned body language, a quiet Missouri bench during games and a lack of competition on the practice field.
It was equal parts venting and shaping the future, which includes nine games, a point Odom reiterated multiple times.
“I think we’ve kinda called ourselves out on the way we’ve been competing — in practice and in the games,” Reese said. “I don’t think it’s been good enough. We had a talk amongst ourselves.
“I think we resolved a lot of the issues that were going on, more or less talking too much and not doing a lot. I think that’s one thing we’re going to resolve.”
Again, though, that’s simply more talk, three days after Missouri was drilled in a 35-3 home loss to Purdue.
As for the action, Reese said the players plan to create more energy in practice in hopes it carries over to Saturday.
It’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg complex.
Energy, then success. Or is it vice versa?
“I look at it kinda different, man. You either want to play or you don’t want to play,” linebacker Terez Hall said. “So it’s all about putting the players who wanna be out there on the field out there. They gotta want to come out there and play. The energy part comes when you’re out there making plays.”
Hall acknowledged more life on the practice field Tuesday, the first opportunity to turn Monday’s monologues into a tangible improved product.
But it’s still just practice. And a week ago, Odom commented that his team had responded well in practice after a loss to South Carolina days earlier.
“Still trying to figure that out,” Odom said. “We practiced as good as we’ve practiced, and then obviously that didn’t carry over to Saturday. Spent a lot of time evaluating the whys. We gotta get it figured out.”