Winners and Losers: Missouri upset by Middle Tennessee

The Tigers’ defense let the team down on Saturday, allowing over 580 yards of total offense.
A Middle Tennessee player escapes a Missouri tackler on Oct. 22 in Columbia.

Homecoming has brought nothing but disappointment for the Missouri football team the past two seasons.

First, it was a 21-3 drubbing by Florida in 2015. One year later, the Tigers fell to a school they paid $1.1 million to come play.

Missouri fell to 2-5 on the season with Saturday night’s 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee. While the Tigers struggled in many facets of the game, they were still in it until the very end. Here’s what kept Missouri in the game and what eventually cost the Tigers the contest.

Winners:

Damarea Crockett: For much of the season, the Missouri ground game has been mediocre at best. Tiger running backs found sporadic success against Florida last weekend, but nobody expected the breakout performance that Missouri experienced Saturday.

The cornerstone of Missouri’s success on the ground was Damarea Crockett. The freshman followed up his 145-yard performance against Florida with a 153-yard, four-touchdown onslaught against Middle Tennessee.

It wasn’t just Crockett’s stat line that got the Homecoming crowd on its feet; it was the way he ran. He used his rare combination of speed and strength to both run around defenders and power straight through tackles.

The Missouri Offensive Line: Other than Kevin Pendleton — who had four false starts on the day — the Missouri offensive line continued to play at a high level.

The big men up front consistently paved the way for Missouri’s four rushing touchdowns. They also helped the Missouri running backs average over five yards per rush.

Meanwhile, the line held off the Middle Tennessee pass rush just enough for Drew Lock to be effective. Lock was only sacked once on the night, although his ability to stay off the turf did little to help his passing game.

Losers:

The Missouri Defense: Missouri has not held an opponent to under 40 points in nearly a month.

First, Missouri lost to Louisiana State, 42-7. Then the Tigers were smoked by Florida, 40-14. Next up were the mighty Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, who dominated Missouri’s defense by posting 51 points on the board.

Nothing worked for Missouri on Saturday night when it came to slowing down the opposition. The Tigers allowed 584 yards and six touchdowns Saturday night in what could be termed the defense’s worst performance of the season. Oh yeah, and the Blue Raiders were only forced to punt four times on the night.

Missouri’s Health: Not only did the Tigers lose on Saturday night, but they also left Faurot Field battered and bruised, with several key players being injured.

First it was John Gibson, who left the game after the first play with a left knee sprain. Then it was Michael Scherer, who left with a right knee sprain. Finally, the defense lost its third defensive playmaker of the game, Terry Beckner Jr., who also sprained his left knee.

Perhaps the largest loss of the night was Scherer, who is the unquestioned leader of the Missouri defense. After his departure, the defense broke down, suffering from a lack of leadership both on and off the field.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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