Takeaways: Missouri falls to West Virginia in first game of the season

Despite a late comeback attempt, the Tigers came up short in Morgantown.

Drew Lock warms up at practice on Aug. 23 in Columbia.

Despite a late comeback attempt, the Missouri football team (0–1) fell in its first game of the season to West Virginia (1–0). For the majority of the game, the Tigers struggled to move the football, but they made a late surge. Here are three takeaways from the inaugural game of Missouri’s 2016 season.

If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it

Throughout the game, the Tigers found consistent success sending their receivers over the middle of the field on post and slant routes. The Mizzou receivers outmatched West Virginia’s smaller corners consistently when they were able to get the Mountaineers on their backs. However, the Missouri play-callers did not stick with it.

Instead, the Tigers opted to launch the ball deep and run short-bubble screens with the majority of their passing plays. These attempts were often futile and led quick, production-less drives for the Missouri offense.

D-line Zou struggles

The vaunted Missouri defensive line must have missed the flight to Morgantown, West Virginia.

The Tigers playing in the trenches were consistently pushed back by West Virginia’s powerful offensive line. Missouri came away from Saturday’s game with no sacks and only six tackles for loss, and they gave up 241 yards on the ground.

The rushing yards given up is especially concerning considering defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross’ strategy of trying to stop the run before stopping the pass. That strategy took away the ability of Missouri’s supposedly elite pass rushers to get to the quarterback. All-Southeastern Conference defensive end Charles Harris only came away with two tackles.

Running backs show little improvement from 2015

While fans were impressed with quarterback Drew Lock, who appeared much more composed than last season, Missouri’s running game did not appear to have improved.

The Tigers averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and only broke off one run longer than 20 yards. A majority of Missouri’s running production came from quarterback Marvin Zanders, who was more of a Wildcat runner than he was a passer.

The Missouri running backs seemed unable to find any holes in the Mountaineer defense. Missouri ended the day with only 180 yards on the ground.

Edited by Theo DeRosa | tderosa@themaneater.com

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