posted on October 15, 2012 14:37
Alabama's 42-10 blowout of Missouri on Saturday was expected. That game didn't show us anything new or different about the Tigers this year -- the offense is awful, the defense can be good when it's not on the field all day, the special teams are a Jekyll-and-Hide scenario.
But, another troubling trend continued against the Crimson Tide: The complete lack of momentum after forced turnovers.
Through seven games, Missouri's defense forced 16 turnovers, which is already approaching it's 2011 total of 22. For the season, however, Missouri's offense has turned those momemntum-shifting plays into 17 points. Against FBS opponents, that total drops to 10 points on 12 turnovers.
In fact, Missouri's defense has almost outscored Missouri's offense on turnovers. The first two turnovers of the season were returned for touchdowns against Southeastern Louisiana.
What's even more troubling than the lack of points is the lack of movement following turnovers. In the last six games, Missouri's longest drive following a turnover was 21 yards. Without counting the two game-ending turnovers against Arizona State and Central Florida, Missouri's offense averages 6.7 on ten drives begun by turnover.
That's not 6.7 points. That's 6.7 yards. Missouri's offense has totalled 67 yards on ten post-turnover drives against FBS teams.
There's no debating the struggles of Missouri's offense. Injuries are a big part of that, as James Franklin and plenty of offensive linemen have missed good chunks of time this year. But on these turnover drives, Missouri hasn't had to start at its own 20. Against FBS teams at home, Missouri's defense force nine turnovers in four games. Six of those nine turnovers occurred inside the opponent's 50.
-- Against Georgia, the turnovers occurred at the Bulldogs' 20 and 32-yard line.
-- Against Arizona State, two turnovers occurred at the Sun Devils' 18 and 41-yard lines (The other two occurred at Missouri's 42 and in Missouri's endzone, returned to Missouri's 49 by Kenronte Walker to end the game).
-- Against Vanderbilt, the lone turnover occurred at the Commodores' 45-yard line
-- Finally, against Alabama, Missouri forced turnovers at its own 16 and at Alabama's 48-yard line.
As those four games show, this isn't a case of Missouri's defense bending-but-not-breaking, forcing a turnover with its collective back against the wall. No, the trend has been Missouri's defense forcing turnovers relatively early in drives and immediately flipping the field.
Inevitably, however, Missouri's offense gave the ball right back to the opponents. The rest for Missouri's defense is short, and by the time it returns to the field, the momentum is gone.
There's no quick solution for how this problem gets fixed. Missouri's offensive struggles are myriad. The pressure is mounting.
"There's definitely a lot of pressure," receiver L'Damian Washington said. "It's the offense that has to go out and score. We have a goal to do. The defense is holding up their end of the stick. We just got to hold up our end.
"It's just small things. Very, very small things. I think this bye week will give us a chance to iron out some of these wrinkles that are causing us to miss some of these good opportunities."
Missouri's offense gets its next chance to pull its weight in two weeks against Kentucky. However, all the "small things" have turned into one major headache for Missouri's season. One week off may not be enough time.