Instant Reaction: Three takeaways after Missouri falls to Alabama 39-10

Drew Lock struggled under pressure and the defense held up surprisingly well — sometimes — as the Tigers dropped their third straight.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is tackled by safety Khalil Oliver during Missouri's 39-10 loss at Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Missouri was helpless, then hopeful, then submissive, then stubborn, then finally drubbed and defeated to the delight of Dixieland.

The Tigers’ 39-10 loss to Alabama Saturday night went as expected along the scoreline, so the space between is what needs examining.

The first, pervading takeaway: The Missouri defense had some remarkable stands and some truly unremarkable moments against a seemingly indomitable Alabama offense.

"Missouri was physical up front on defense," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

The secondary’s assets lost far more than they won in downfield one-on-one coverage, particularly on a long touchdown on the second play of the game, and a lot of that has to do with not pulling the safeties back into a deeper shell coverage. After all the focus this week about how Georgia and South Carolina bottled up Drew Lock with that method, it seemed like Missouri should’ve been taking notes from them.

That being said, the fact that the defense held Alabama scoreless for the entire third quarter – well, not counting the safety conceded by the offense on the last play – spoke a lot to the old bend-don’t-break narrative. Especially to do so without the benefit of disqualified Terez Hall was a feat to be marveled at. The defense made several red zone stops, and particularly was able to keep the Tide in check in the first quarter to prevent 10 quick points from escalating.

That brings up the second immediate thought: Why didn’t Missouri select to receive after winning the coin toss? Here’s why: the old mentality of, “Maybe we make it into halftime in a close game, then get to start the second half with the ball.” An honorable approach, but it seems fruitless to try and get into halftime in a close game when Alabama gets to start the game with it. That was immediately evident on the quick touchdown. The 30-10 halftime hole is actually the second-smallest lead Alabama has taken into the break this year.

It’s a completely different game if Missouri starts with the ball and scores on the first possession. Yes, the Tigers probably would’ve still lost, but a hypothetical 7-0 lead in Tuscaloosa would’ve doubled than diminished those already slim odds.

Third takeaway: In Missouri’s recent failure in the pass game, it’s still unclear exactly how much fault should be dealt to Lock and how much to the receivers. But Lock hasn’t been very good with even what he’s been given.

Lock threw two more interceptions against the Tide, making for a total of four picks in the last two games. He has seven turnovers in the last three games to just three touchdowns. He threw for his first touchdown since the first half against Purdue, but that was in part thanks to him having eons to find an open receiver. The most daunting aspect of his game right now is his lack of judgment under pressure.

Sure, Lock is used to good protection from a stellar offensive line, and Alabama forced cracks in that, but whether he throws the ball, when he throws the ball and where he throws the ball when under duress continue to be the three Ws that should terrify Missouri fans. He chose to try and get rid of one in the first half at a bad time and fumbled. He decided to pump fake at the end of the third quarter and was sacked for a safety.

It’s time for Lock to show some judgment. It’s time for Missouri to show some gusto and go for it on big plays. It’s time for a lot to get better, but when you take a last look at the final score in Tuscaloosa … 39-10 isn’t all that bad.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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