Lack of top receiving option continues to plague Missouri

Running back Tyler Badie leads the Tigers in receptions.
Dominic Gicinto dives for a ball against Florida. Photo by Andrew Moore

Emanuel Hall only played nine games in 2018, but it was enough for him to solidify himself as Missouri’s number one receiver. He led the team in receiving yards with 828 — Johnathon Johnson finished a distant second with 737 yards. Hall was also third on the team in receptions (37) and tied for first in touchdowns (six).

The 2019 Tigers haven’t had an Emanuel Hall.

In a season that’s gone rapidly downhill offensively since mid-October, no one in Missouri’s receiving corps has emerged as quarterback Kelly Bryant’s go-to target. With two games remaining, graduate student Jonathan Nance leads the team with 410 receiving yards.

“We need more out of Jalen [Knox], JJ [Johnson], Kam Scott — we gotta get those guys, when their number’s called we gotta go execute, go finish the play,” coach Barry Odom said. “I’m not pointing fingers at one group or one position. It’s all of us collectively starting with me finding ways to get them on track.”

Sophomore running back Tyler Badie leads the team with 30 receptions. However, receiver Barrett Banister said it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, citing running back James White having the second-most receptions on the New England Patriots.

“There’s a lot of different ways to run offenses,” Banister said. “Some people think it’s all the receivers. Some people think it’s all the tight ends, and that’s just a basis of philosophy.”

Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, the man in charge of implementing the offense and calling plays, disagreed.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” he said on the lack of wideout production. “We shouldn’t have a running back leading us, that’s for sure.”

The already thin unit got smaller last Saturday when Scott dressed but didn’t play, a result of his “habits” the previous week in practice, Odom said after the game. The receiving corps was held to 143 combined yards spread among four targets.

“We had some times when we had guys open and we didn’t complete it, and then we had some times when we need to get open a little bit better and create some windows quicker,” Dooley said. “So it’s always usually a combination of things.”

A combination is what Missouri’s going to need to finish the season on a high note. With no obvious target, the offense will have to rely on a more balanced — and more effective — passing attack.

“I think there’s obviously that goal in mind whenever you’re a wideout, but I think at the end of the day you have to have a collective unit of guys that can go out and make plays for you,” Banister said. “I think that’s what the best receiving corps in the country have. They have a bunch of guys and a bunch of dudes that are gonna go out there and teams can’t just focus on one person. They gotta focus on everyone.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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