The Mizzou Tigers aren't as good as they looked against Illinois in Week 1, but they aren't as bad as they looked tonight against Bowling Green. Even though they pulled out the exciting 27-20 win, the Tigers' offense looked absolutely inept in the first half and the defense had a rough time in random spots during the game. What does this mean for the Tigers going forward?
Coming off an incredible debut in St. Louis, Blaine Gabbert showed that he is indeed new to the starting role at quarterback by looking shaky in his home debut. Whenever the Falcons got pressure on Gabbert, he quickly rolled out of the pocket and looked to either run or throw the ball away. He must learn in the coming weeks to step up in the pocket and throw the ball on the run. The good news for the Tigers is that they have two more non-conference games for him to figure it out.
More good news for the Tigers includes their ability to shrug off a mistake-filled first half and come out with a renewed attitude in the second half. They looked like a completely different team on offense in the second half and pulled out a hard fought win. Tiger fans need to get used to this inconsistency because that comes with having a inexperienced (but talented) team.
The new coaching staff also had some learning experiences during the 27-20 win at "The Zou" on Saturday. I questioned the offensive play calling in the first half because it was obvious Gabbert was not in a comfort zone, yet they kept giving him an opportunity to drop back and pass. Dave Yost and crew corrected their mistake after the half by increasing the dosage of Derrick Washington and the running game. The offense responded by scoring 21 second half points.
Dave Steckel and the defensive staff also had their hiccups in the game against Bowling Green. The Tigers brought more pressure in this game then they did against Illinois, but they still left their corners 8-10 yards off the Falcon receivers, allowing the short passing game to kill them. Freddie Barnes had double digit receptions for the second straight game, but only had 70 yards, showing that he was allowed to catch the underneath ball. That killed the defense in spots, but they stood up with a consistent pass rush and good downfield coverage late in the game.
Overall, the Tigers could have played a lot better on Saturday night, but the game was a huge learning experience that could prove to be invaluable later in the season. The coaching staff learned a lot about their team and the Mizzou offense also learned how to adjust mid-game to start scoring points. Up next is Furman and another potential learning experience for this young, but talented Tiger team.