Sunday grade card: Troy
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Each Sunday, PowerMizzou.com will hand out a position-by-position grade card for Missouri from Saturday's game. Here are the marks from the Tigers’ 42-10 win over Troy.
Quarterback: Kelly Bryant had a field day against Troy's lax pass defense — until he left the game due to an injury to his left knee. Bryant completed 12 of 19 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. But with Bryant potentially dealing with an injury that could force him to miss future action, attention shifts to his possible replacement. Taylor Powell took all the reps behind center following Bryant's injury. He made a couple nice throws, including hitting Kam Scott in stride on a skinny post for an 18-yard gain, but he only attempted eight total passes. Odom said the offense only called "like three plays" the entire second half, so how Powell will handle a full offensive playbook and a more high-pressure situation is still anyone's guess. GRADE: A
Running backs: Larry Rountree III looked the best he's looked all season in the first half. Due both to the gaping holes in the Troy secondary and the lopsided score, he only finished the game with nine attempts, but he converted them into 56 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Badie didn't do much, but Dawson Downing continued to look like a more than serviceable third option in the backfield. He finished the game with 37 yards on five carries. Simi Bakare also gained 37 yards on six totes. GRADE: A-
Wide receivers: First off, it needs to be stated that Troy's defense is one of the nation's worst against the pass. That said, it was refreshing to see several Missouri receivers making explosive plays in the first half. Scott, who finished with a career-high five catches for 88 yards, turned a short pass over the middle into a 49-yard gain on Missouri's first possession. Later, Jonathan Nance broke a tackle and raced down the sidelines for a 64-yard touchdown. In all, six Tiger wideouts caught at least one pass Saturday. We had wondered in recent weeks if Missouri had the type of playmakers at receiver who could turn routine plays into big gains, and if the Tigers continue to show that quality moving forward, the entire offense will benefit. GRADE: A
Tight Ends: Albert Okwuegbunam has made a lot of impressive red zone catches during his Missouri career, but his 16-yard score in the second quarter Saturday may have been his best yet. Okwuegbunam elevated to catch a pass and then got one of his feet to the turf in the corner of the end zone while he was being shoved by a Troy defender. Okwuegbunam also made a key first down reception on a third down in the first quarter. Daniel Parker Jr. moved the chains with a catch as well, and while he did commit a penalty on the goal line that could have been costly, it simply set the stage for Okwuegbunam's impressive grab. GRADE: A
Offensive line: The number one priority all season for the Tiger front has been to keep Bryant upright. Yes, the hit from Troy defensive lineman Travis Sailo was late, but Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms has to get a bit of the blame for the play. Obviously if Bryant's injury is as serious as it looked, the ramifications could be major. The line also allowed two more sacks, and it could have been more if it weren't for Bryant's escapability. While the performance was ultimately plenty good enough to beat Troy, Missouri will look for more from the group going forward. GRADE: C
Defensive line: For the fourth game in a row, the Tigers suffocated the opposing rushing attack, this time allowing just 61 yards on 31 carries to Troy. It's the fourth game in a row Missouri has allowed less than two yards per carry. Jordan Elliott continued to look like a one-man wrecking crew, although he needs to be careful about hitting opposing quarterbacks. Elliott initially got called for targeting Saturday, and while he was allowed to remain in the game after a review, it was the second time this season he has been on the verge of drawing an ejection. GRADE: A
Linebackers: Forget the discussion of Missouri's best defensive players. Is Cale Garrett also the Tigers' best source of offense? It's sort of a joke, but Garrett's ability to generate turnovers and turn them into points has reached historic levels. He is the first defensive player ever at Missouri to score a touchdown in three straight games, and he is just the second Tiger defender ever with three defensive scores in the same season. Add in the fact that he finished tied in the team lead in tackles, as usual, and Garrett has to be in the discussion for All-American honors. Nick Bolton chipped in four tackles and forced the errant throw when he pressured Kaleb Barker on Garrett's pick-six. GRADE: A+
Secondary: Barker found a few open receivers on Troy's first drive, when he completed six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. After that, Missouri's secondary tightened things up, as Barker passed for just 28 more yards and two interceptions. No unit on the defense is getting lower than an A grade for this performance. GRADE: A-
Special Teams: In contrast to last season, Missouri got a momentum-shifting play in its favor on special teams when the Tigers forced and recovered a fumble from Kaylon Geiger on a Troy kickoff return. The play led to the Tigers' sixth touchdown of the first half. Elsewhere, not too much happened on special teams. Tucker McCann missed a 52-yard field goal but punted the ball well again, pinning Troy inside the 10-yard line on three separate occassions. One story to watch will be the injury status of punt returner Richaud Floyd. Floyd, who entered Saturday fifth in the nation in punt return average, left the game with a hamstring injury in the first half. His replacements, Johnathon Johnson and Cade Musser, didn't record a return Saturday. GRADE: B
Coaching: Barry Odom got another monkey off his back this week, winning a game following a bye for the first time in his head coaching career. The team just needed to avoid disaster this week, and it accomplished that, so there's not much more to break down here. I give Odom some credit for sensing that the game could get chippy following Bryant's injury and pulling several starters from the game earlier than he usually might have. GRADE: A
Final Overall Grade: A