Our record and stat lines from last year do nothing to inspire confidence at a glance. The SEC media is however missing key details about our Tigers and why there's room for optimism. Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not predicting an SEC East title. I'm simply saying based on some deeper analysis that predicting us to finish 14th is ludicrous.
In the always brief mentions of the Tigers this year in the SEC media, they seems to agree that MU should score some points. Tiger fans agree with them on this at least. So the real skepticism is based on an absolutely abysmal defense last year. Without knowing anything about the Tigers it's easy for the SEC to look at this one factor and dismiss us. But assuming both the SEC media and we fans are right and MU's offense is good, an improvement on defense could spell success for Mizzou.
This is where we come to it. We dive down into what the half-hearted SEC media analysis is missing. Maybe some Tigers fans are missing it too. So let me explain why there is room for optimism and why a quick glance isn't enough. As all Tigers fans know, we got a new coach last year and with him, a new Defense coordinator. Coach Cross installed his 2 gap system and trouble started almost immediately. Players grumbled and once the season started, fans screamed as the result was a once stout defense being completely neutered. A defense that had feasted on QBs and lived at the top of the conference in sack totals got no pressure. It was maddening. Why had we tried to fix what wasn't broken?
I guess we've all had a new boss that wanted to fix things that were working perfectly well before their arrival. The new Tiger coaching staff was no different. Our players had been recruited to play one scheme and were now being forced to play another. For eight weeks Odom and Cross tried to fit this very square peg into a very round hole and the Tigers got whipped on defense. But in game nine against South Carolina, Odom did something Gary Pinkel would never have done. He bent. He changed back to what had worked for so many seasons before and scrapped the new scheme.
While it didn't equate to a win against SC, the results in defensive productivity were immediate. Most SEC media types don't seem to realize that a big portion of Mizzou's defensive whoas were of their own making. They probably assume it was a weak roster but Mizzou should immediately be better on defense this year based on not trying the square peg approach. Pair an improved defense with this offense and why couldn't we complete in the east.
If the SEC experts need proof, I'm willing to provide it. If you break down Mizzou's season into games in the Cross scheme and games in the old pass rush scheme, the numbers support my optimism. Hell, let's throw out the Delaware State game as it was a hot garbage 🔥🗑 outlier. In the seven (minus Delaware State) games before the change, the Tigers had eight sacks. In the four games after the scheme change, against all SEC opponents the Tigers had 16 sacks, doubling the sack total. They also doubled their win total in those last four games and in three of those games held their opponents to 3.7 yards per carry or less. The improvements were vindication for fans who'd been screaming at their televisions each week to change back to the old scheme.
Given the improvement after the defensive scheme change, even with the loss of Charles Harris to the NFL, the Tigers defense should be markedly improved from last season on defense. So While the Barrett Sallees of the world pick us 14 out of 14, bear in mind that Barrett and his cohorts haven't the faintest idea about the facts I've now submitted to you.
Don't rush out and buy your tickets to Atlanta just yet but sleep easier knowing that you're going to enjoy a more competitive Tigers team this year whether the SEC media knows it or not.
Sent from my iPhone