COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMOV) -- After playing three games - and narrowly beating a talented Arizona State squad on Saturday - there are a few conclusions we can draw on this Missouri Tigers squad before they head to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks this weekend.
1. Missouri’s defense could be really good
If the Tigers end up with a losing season this year, odds are it won’t be because of their defense. Time and time again the Tigers’ defense was put in horrible positions and - other than one sustained drive for ASU that led to a TD - time and time again it stepped up, forcing four turnovers on the night.
This wasn’t any more apparent than when the Sun Devils had a 2nd and 1 at the Missouri 1-yard-line with just over four minutes to go. The Tigers stuffed the Arizona State rushing attack in back-to-back plays, then Missouri safety Kenronte Walker broke up a pass on fourth down to force a turnover on downs. Walker then intercepted a pass in the endzone on Arizona State’s next possession, effectively icing game.
2. The Tigers need James Franklin
Now let’s get this out of the way first: Considering it was the first start of his collegiate career, redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser played well, capitalizing on several ASU turnovers and making big throws on third down. Berkstresser ended up 21 for 41 through the air on the night with one interception. He also added 25 yards on the ground with a score. And let’s not forget he took a pretty big beating while doing it.
But let’s be honest: The Tigers need James Franklin if they have any hope of beating South Carolina. Franklin adds accuracy, experience and a rushing threat that is unmatched by any current Missouri quarterback.
3. Missouri has special teams issues
Through three games, it’s become apparent Missouri has some long-snapping issues. Leading 24-7 in the fourth quarter on Saturday, a Tigers bad snap led to punter Trey Barrow trying a pass that didn't get the first down. The Sun Devils took the ball on the Missouri 36-yard-line and scored after a nine-play drive. Barrow also barely got another punt off due a bad snap earlier in the game.
The Tigers’ kicking game is probably the weakest its been in seven years.A weak after missing a (relatively easy) field goal against Georgia, kicker Andrew Baggett missed two against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday night.
Up 17 with about 7 and a half minutes to go in the third quarter, Baggett missed a 36-yard field goal that would have put the Tigers up 13. And while the snap was far from perfect, Baggett again missed a 48-yard field goal, which would have given the Tigers a TD lead.
Baggett isn’t going anywhere and will stay as the Tigers kicker throughout the year, so all we can do is hope he steps up in tight moments in future games.