Road game presents new set of challenges for Missouri

In its last away game, the Tigers were upset by Wyoming, 37-31.

After beginning the season on the road, Missouri hasn’t left Faurot Field since. The Tigers have played five straight home games, dating back to Sept. 7.

The imbalance is fine with senior offensive lineman Yasir Durant.

“I’d rather have 12 home games, but that ain’t the way it works,” he said.

Unfortunately for Durant, who also admitted he was looking forward to going on the road, that string of home games ends this week with Missouri heading to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt.

The trip to Music City begins a stretch of away games for the Tigers — they don’t play in Columbia again until Nov. 16 against Florida, a predictable result of spending so much time early in the season at home. The five-game homestand tied for the longest in school history.

“It is a little weird,” quarterback Kelly Bryant said. “I’ve never played this many home games ever since I’ve been playing football. [I’m] excited to get back on the road, going to a different environment.”

Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters shared Bryant’s sentiment.

“I think our guys are actually excited to get out on the road,” he said. “It’s something that kind of brings you together, going to a different environment for one common goal, and kind of getting away from normalcy of living and playing in Columbia.”

After spending seven weeks in a familiar situation, heading away from home presents its own set of challenges. While routines, practice schedules and pretty much everything in the week leading up to the game remains the same, the travel itself and all that comes with it is completely out of players’ or coaches’ control.

“You have the same sort of routine, but you have to accept that things are always gonna be different,” offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said. ”You’re on a flight. Maybe the food tastes different. Your bed’s not the same. All these little things. And coach [Barry] Odom calls it ‘distraction control.’ And you can’t let those things have any effect on what you have to do.”

Odom intends to treat the game and preparation leading up to it the same way he did for the first away game of the season in late August. That game turned out disastrous for the Tigers, as they entered the game heavily favored and were shocked by Wyoming. Lessons from that loss still linger in Odom’s mind.

“Everything that you do throughout the week is gonna get exposed,” he said. “And then you’ve got to go execute, and if you prepare the right way, but then you don’t go execute or you walk out minus-three in the turnover margin, then we’re not going to win a game … You’ve gotta prepare like every game is the same, and the focus and the determination. If you don’t then you’re not gonna win.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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