football Edit

Sunday grade card: Wyoming


Each Sunday, will hand out a position-by-position grade card for Missouri from Saturday's game. Here are the marks from the Tigers’ stunning, 37-31 loss in the season-opener at Wyoming.

Quarterback: Kelly Bryant was clearly Missouri's best player Saturday. From a yardage standpoint, the performance was the most productive of his career. Without him, Mizzou likely would have been blown out. Yet he contributed two of the unit's three back-breaking turnovers, and those cannot be overlooked. The fumble is something you probably live with from a running quarterback, but his interception in the red zone on the first drive of the third quarter was just a bone-headed decision. Bryant showed a lot to be excited about, but he needs to take better care of the football moving forward. GRADE: B

Running backs: In probably the second-biggest surprise of the night (behind only the final score), it wasn't junior Larry Rountree III who played the majority of the snaps at tailback for Missouri but sophomore Tyler Badie. After rushing for more than 1,200 yards last season, Rountree was touted as a workhorse and potential all-conference candidate during the offseason. Missouri showed Saturday that it needs Rountree to be that guy. This isn't to say Badie didn't earn the playing time — Rountree's goal-line fumble was extremely costly and Badie is the better receiver of the duo — but this Missouri offense is going to have to run the ball to set up the pass. It needs Rountree to be the Rountree we expected to see in order to do that. Saturday, Rountree rushed for just 41 yards on 15 carries. The offense as a whole averaged just 3.1 yards per carry (excluding sacks). That's not going to get it done. GRADE: D

Running back Larry Rountree III gained 41 yards on 15 carries against Wyoming.
Running back Larry Rountree III gained 41 yards on 15 carries against Wyoming. (USA Today)

Wide receivers: Even with Dominic Gicinto out with an injury, Missouri showed its depth at wideout. Several different players made a big play or two. Jonathan Nance caught two touchdowns in his Missouri debut, Kam Scott had a couple big gains, Jalen Knox caught four passes for 62 yards, Barrett Banister made a clutch reception late, Johnathon Johnson battled through some pain to catch seven passes, tied for the team lead. The problem is that the group seems to lack a go-to guy; someone who, when the team needs an explosive play in a big situation, can be counted on to get open. Nance may be becoming that player, but with only three catches Saturday, we'd like to see more. Also, the group needs to cut down on its drops. There were at least three Saturday. GRADE: C

Tight Ends: Albert Okwuegbunam simply does not look like the all-American tight end he was billed to be during the offseason. Part of it may be due to rust — Saturday was his first game since Nov. 1 last year — but he made a crucial red zone mistake by committing offensive pass interference. He also nearly (and arguably should have) lost a fumble, and he simply doesn't seem to get open consistently. As he has for much of his career, he used his speed to make a few long catches against Wyoming, but he wasn't targeted on the final drive, and he didn't appear to get open. Daniel Parker Jr. had one nice catch, but considering Missouri's struggles to run the ball didn't seem to be a huge factor as a blocker. GRADE: D

Offensive line: As has been discussed already, Missouri's rushing attack left quite a bit to be desired Saturday, and part of that certainly reflects on the front five. The lack of push was especially evident on the rushing plays that came up short from the one- and two-yard line. It should be noted, though, that the group did a solid job protecting Bryant, at least until the final possession, when Bryant got sacked on the third-to-last play from scrimmage. GRADE: C

Defensive line: It was no secret. Missouri knew Wyoming wanted to run the ball. And yet the Tigers still gave up nearly 300 yards on the ground. That responsibility starts with the defensive line. The defensive tackles got a lot of credit when last year's team excelled against the run; Saturday, Jordan Elliott and company failed to maintain gap integrity on a few occassions and missed tackles, leading to big plays on the ground. The defensive ends, meanwhile, were largely invisible. GRADE: F

Linebackers: See above. Missouri's starting linebackers racked up 25 tackles between them, but when an opposing team runs for nearly 300 yards, that cannot be considered a good performance. After the game, Cale Garrett said Wyoming used his anticipation against him with misdirection. Whatever the case, he and Nick Bolton appeared out of position at times and didn't tackle well. GRADE: D

Secondary: Wyoming only completed six passes for 92 yards, so it's hard to glean much meaningful insight about the pass coverage on the back end (though Christian Holmes was beaten badly in one-on-one coverage for one touchdown). The two long Wyoming rushing touchdowns did feature a safety being either out of position or missing a tackle or both. GRADE: Incomplete

Special Teams: There were some miscues, to be sure. Barry Odom pointed to the back-to-back pre-snap penalties on the team's first punt of the game as the start of the momentum shifting to Wyoming's side. Richaud Floyd should have fielded a punt that wound up bouncing inside the two-yard line. But it wasn't all bad. The errors weren't on the level of what we consistently saw last season. Plus, Tucker McCann made all of his kicks and punted fine, and Floyd had the best return by a Missouri player in more than a calendar year, which set up a fourth-quarter score. GRADE: C

Coaching: Yes, it was the players, and not Odom or his staff, who turned the ball over three times. Yes, it was the players who failed to wrap up, leading to big runs. But ultimately, when a team loses to an 18-point underdog after having all offseason to prepare, that coaches shoulder the bulk of the blame. Missouri didn't have a suitable game plan to stop Wyoming's rushing attack, it didn't have an answer when things started to go south in the second quarter and it has apparently failed to learn from two straight years of slow starts. Odom accepted responsibility for the loss afterward, but at a certain point, that needs to translate to visible improvement in early-season games. GRADE: F

Final Overall Grade: D-