That’s what it’s supposed to look like when an SEC team plays against New Mexico State. Missouri had outscored the Aggies 35-7 and out-gained them 404-189 at the end of the third quarter. Moral of the story, this one wasn’t close. Nor should it have been. Good day for the good guys.
Alright, let’s get to the takeaways.
1) We saw some flashes from the young talent Drinkwitz has added the last two years
Luther Burden III finished with 57 yards and two touchdowns on six total offensive touches. Ryan Hoerstkamp had his first career touchdown reception. Tavorus Jones showed some serious juice on a 32-yard reception. Daylan Carnell added a pick six. Armand Membou started the game at right tackle and… I didn’t really notice him (this is a good thing).
Rivals rated Eli Drinkwitz’s recruiting classes over the past two years 19th and 12th, respectively. That’s great. It’s exciting. It’s reason for optimism. But eventually that potential has to turn into production. We saw some of the first signs of that today. Hopefully the first of what’s to come.
2) Brady Cook played a heck of a football game
I’m not going to make more of it than needs to be made. It was against New Mexico State. He did what he was supposed to do. But Brady Cook played really well. He was efficient through the air, kept the ball out of harm’s way and ran the ball seven times for more than 70 yards.
I know Cook gets a lot of criticism — much of it is deserved — but over his last four games, he’s now completed 74 of 112 passes (66 percent) for 839 yards (7.5 yards per attempt), six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s also added 42 carries for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground in that four-game stretch against South Carolina, Kenucky, Tennessee and New Mexico State. Nobody is suggesting he’s Patrick Mahomes, but he’s been better. Kudos to him for improving through his first year as a starer.
3) The defense really didn’t look like it wanted to be there at first, but they made the necessary plays
I wasn’t the only one a bit nervous on New Mexico State’s first drive, right? The Aggies drove nearly 40 yards on eight plays. The Tigers’ defense looked less than interested in playing this game in that weather. I don’t blame them. It looked miserable. (Editor’s note: it was.) It didn’t matter. They got it corrected, and they did so quickly.
Missouri forced a punt on New Mexico State’s next three drives, and they only allowed one score while the starters were in the game. It wasn’t a dominant performance, but they got the job done.
4) We should probably talk about that Sam Horn sighting, huh?
Well, Sam Horn entered the game. He threw two passes, completed neither of them and ran it once for 10 yards. To be fair, he did complete a 29-yard pass that would have put Missouri up on the New Mexico State 2-yard line, but Mitchell Walters was down the field illegally. So, it was nixed. Horn threw a pass to Barrett Banister on third down that resulted in a nasty hit and left Banister sidelined for the rest of the game. I’m not sure if it was that throw, or something else, but that was the first and only drive we saw from Horn.
The Tigers’ final two drives were handled by super senior Jack Abraham. They came and went without much to write home about. I understand Drinkwitz wanted the senior to get some playing time, but isn’t this the perfect setting to find out what Horn can do? Well, it’s not against an elite opponent. But it’s… something? If Horn is the future ‘franchise’ quarterback for Drinkwitz, his usage (or lack-thereof) this season has been puzzling. If he is not the future at quarterback, Missouri better find the player who is, and they better do it quickly.
5) Next week has a chance to be a significant win for Drinkwitz
Making a bowl game at 5-7 isn’t the same as earning bowl eligibility. Not in my mind, at least. Arkansas is not a dominant team, but don’t tell that to Ole Miss. The Razorbacks just gave the Rebels the business in Fayetteville. An upset in Columbia on Black Friday would be a heck of a capper to a roller coaster of a season. It would be a win that leaves Missouri fans with a good taste in their mouth about the 2022 season.
For now, we wait on the injury reports for the guys who appeared to get hurt against New Mexico State. Most notably, that includes Isaiah McGuire and Barrett Banister. Here’s to hoping everything is fine and both play against the Razorbacks.
One more regular season game. It’s gone fast. Thanks for reading. Let’s do it again on Friday.