Missouri crushed by Auburn, 51-14

Coach Barry Odom said his team has a lot to work on but that wins will eventually come.

Maneater File Photo

Missouri wasn’t supposed to beat No. 15. Auburn. After all, the “other” team from Alabama entered Saturday’s contest at Faurot Field with the second-best defense in the country and an offense with all of its skill players healthy for the first time this season.

But getting annihilated at home for the second week in a row? That probably wasn’t what Missouri had in mind.

Missouri fell 51-14 to the Auburn Tigers on an unusually warm September night Saturday, extending its losing streak to three games and putting its season in increasing jeopardy of being a lost one.

Head coach Barry Odom said he knew the game would be a challenging one for his team but that he was frustrated it didn’t anticipate difficulties better.

“We didn’t respond to adversity,” Odom said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Although the offense was predicted to struggle mightily, it was the defense that was downright terrible against Auburn. Missouri gave up 482 total yards to an Auburn team that entered Saturday night’s contest 83rd in the country in total offense. Missouri struggled to stop the run, conceding five rushing touchdowns to Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. Auburn’s 263 yards on the ground opened up the passing game, allowing sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham to go 13-17 for 218 yards and one touchdown pass.

Missouri’s Achille’s heel — turnovers — also hurt the team in a big way Saturday. Missouri was outscored 17-0 in points off turnovers, as the Tigers turned the ball over four times and gave Auburn short fields that were turned into touchdowns on two occasions. Missouri also failed to force a turnover and sacked Stidham just once all game.

Three of Missouri’s giveaways came at the hands of junior quarterback Drew Lock, although none were entirely his fault. The first, an interception, came early in the first quarter, when a bullet pass from Lock tipped off the hands of redshirt senior tight end Jason Reese and into the hands of Auburn’s Carlton Davis. Lock also fumbled twice, both on sacks where he didn’t see the man that hit him.

Despite the frustrations from the turnovers, Lock kept his composure and put together his best game since week one. He went 23-39 for 216 yards and two scores.

Lock said he was not pleased with his own play and that although his team “did some good things,” it was nowhere near enough to win.

“We’re not playing good right now,” Lock said. “We’re not making the plays we need to and we’re getting outplayed right now.”

Special teams were a rare strength for Missouri in the first half. Junior punter Corey Fatony was his usual effective self, averaging 44.5 yards per punt and pinning Auburn inside its own 20-yard line three times. Sophomore kicker Tucker McCann made his extra point attempt, and no punts or kickoffs were muffed. But it wouldn’t last, as the figurative wheels came off for the unit in the second half.

The Tigers started the second half with an ill-advised fake punt. Fatony ran the ball from his own 15 but missed the hole in the middle of the field opened up by his blockers, instead opting for the sideline, where he was promptly pulled down for a Missouri turnover on downs. Then, on his next punt attempt, Fatony shanked his sixth punt for 25 yards, giving Auburn field position that it promptly turned into another score. Finally, a careless penalty on the punt return unit gave Auburn a first down that turned into a field goal.

With the loss, Missouri falls to 1-3 entering into next week’s bye. For now, Odom said his team will look to regroup and make some scheme changes before its first road game of the season against Kentucky Oct. 7.

Odom said his team will take the bye week to get healthy and make any changes necessary to start seeing some results.

“I’m not worried about the mindset of our football team,” Odom said. “I’m worried about us going and getting better and the urgency we have to go do it right now.”

Odom wanted to reassure fans that the team will improve in the near future but that it will be a slow process.

“We will win,” Odom said. “This is a turnaround. Any way you slice it or dice it or want to look at it, this is a turnaround process. And unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I’m built for this because I’ve been in a whole heckuva lot of them my entire life.”

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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