The mailbag was light and snark-filled this week, so we’re going to have some fun with numbers before getting to your questions.
Arkansas State kicker Drew White drilled a 40-yard field goal with 11 minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Sept. 12 against Missouri.
Through three games, those are the only second-half points the Tigers’ defense has allowed.
Here are some more impressive numbers for Missouri and its defense, which will get its toughest test of the season at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium:
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— Missouri is 19-1 against unranked opponents since 2013, including a 9-0 record in road games.
— The Tigers rank No. 5 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 9.7 yards per game. Only Northwestern (5.3), Boston College (5.7), West Virginia (8.5) and Duke (8.7) have been better.
— Missouri ranks 24th in the nation in the rushing defense, allowing 105 yards per game, but the squad’s 2.63-yard average per carry is 16th-best in the country.
— Four teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision have yet to give up a touchdown this season, so the Tigers are tied for fifth nationally with one rushing touchdown allowed.
— First-year defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s defense ranks third in the country in passing defense, allowing only 112 yards. Only Boston College (69.0) and San Jose State (73.0) have been better.
— The Tigers rank fourth nationally, giving up a scant 4.2 yards per play, and are eighth in opponent passer rating at 87.28.
— Missouri’s total defense ranks fourth in the country at 217 yards per game. The three teams who’ve been better are Boston College (106.3), North Carolina State (188.3) and Kent State (199.0).
— Only Boston College’s defense has given up fewer yards per play than Missouri, which averages 3.26 yards per play. The Eagles are a ridiculous 2.18.
— The Tigers are one of three teams, along with Boston College and Oregon State, that has yet to allow a play of 30 yards or more. Nobody has gained more than 19 yards on a single run and Connecticut receiver Noel Thomas’ 29-yard reception last week is the longest gain of the season.
— Missouri is tied for first in the country with Washington having blocked three punts/kicks, ranks second with 34 tackles for a loss (behind only Texas A&M’s 36), is tied for seventh (with Vanderbilt oddly enough) by allowing 13 first downs per game,
Sadly, Zach, that was the best tweet of the week for our little mailbag. I get the fan angst about the offensive struggles and I’m not here to tell fans how to feel about the team. That said, until Missouri looses a game they clearly should win, it’s not time to panic.
If I had a team with championship aspirations, given the choice between a world-beating defense and a high-octane offense, I’d rather have the lights-out defense. The Tigers have that. It’s meant some wins that are light on style points, but they are still wins.
Gavin, that’s a bit harsh. Last season was a train wreck, there’s no doubt about that, but the cupboard was bare and Kim Anderson didn’t really get a chance to recruit before that 9-23 debacle.
He now has a team that fits his mold better, some guys he was able to handpick a bit better and a year of (oftentimes painful) experience under his belt. Obviously, Anderson needs to show improvement in year two and creep closer to .500 while avoiding the SEC cellar again, but he deserves the chance to build the program. He hasn’t had that opportunity yet.
Are there more bumps ahead? Probably. Is it going to be fun? It has to be more fun than last year, I’d think. Now might be a good time to practice patience. Missouri added some great kids in the offseason. I don’t know how well they’ll jell on the court, but they sure are easy to root for.
Darius, I’m not sure how to back up a prediction. You realize I don’t play for Missouri, right? This isn’t Broadway Joe and Super Bowl III here. I’m allowed to think the Tigers have a slightly better offense than the Wildcats, a much better defense and — coupled with MU’s road success the last three seasons and UK’s struggles against ranked teams, including 18 straight losses — that it’s going to be a similar result as last season’s 20-10 win by Missouri.
Oh, you weren’t done? Long-winded for a troll. Perhaps I should retract my prediction in the face of your infallible logic. No favored home team has ever been stomped at home when the game was actually played. That’s why every gambler is filthy rich. You’ve swayed me. I’ll borrow a polo from Kentucky coach Mark Stoops to wear in the press box instead.
Have you not been in the press box, Alex? Hmm, hadn’t noticed, but I’m not as bitterly angry this year on game days now that I think about it. My question for you is who are you rooting for when the Royals and Mets meet in the World Series? Your answer determines if you’re ever allowed back in the press box.