Sunday grade card: Kentucky
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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’ 29-7 loss at Kentucky.
Quarterback: Kelly Bryant probably didn't play quite as poorly as he did last week. Bryant was dealing with a driving rainstorm and a strained right hamstring for much of the game, and he got little to no help from his receivers, as at least five of his nine incompletions were dropped. However, Bryant still wasn't nearly good enough for Missouri to win, or to lift the Tiger offense out of its current funk. Bryant looked indecisive in the pocket, once again scared to force the ball into a tight window and thus holding onto it too long. That resulted in two strip sacks, one of which set up a Kentucky touchdown before halftime. And if it weren't for the long screen pass to Tyler Badie, Bryant would have put up just 57 yards on the game. Bryant ultimately was relieved by Taylor Powell, who made a couple nice throws but was similarly ineffective overall. Powell completed 4 of 10 passes and got bailed out by a questionable pass interference call on the one sustained drive with him behind center. GRADE: D
Running backs: Missouri's backs served as the brightest spot of an otherwise dismal offense. Badie showed his blazing speed, out-running everyone on his 73-yard touchdown catch. He continues to be a weapon in the passing and running games and probably deserves more touches. Larry Rountree III ran well early on, especially up the middle, but was a victim of an unfavorable game flow and didn't get as many touches as you would like after the first quarter. Dawson Downing showed his utility as both a runner and pass catcher as well. But while the backs were solid, outside of Badie's long play, they also didn't break many momentum-grabbing, explosive plays, which may be an unfair standard, but it's what Missouri needs right now. GRADE: C+
Wide receivers: Yes, it was raining, and raining hard for much of the game. But Missouri's pass-catchers looked like they were trying to catch a greased watermelon rather than a football at times. Several of their drops came on routine, short passes that hit both hands. Kam Scott, in particular, couldn't hang onto the ball, as he dropped three passes and fumbled. The fact that he still played more and received more targets than Jalen Knox doesn't reflect well on Knox and the other backups. Combine the drops with the fact that no receiver had a catch for more than 10 yards until the fourth quarter and the fact that the leading wideout finished with 23 yards, and this might outing might deserve a grade lower than F if such a thing existed. GRADE: F
Tight Ends: Barry Odom said during the week that he wanted to get Albert Okwuegbunam more involved in the passing game. On the surface, it would appear he did not accomplish that goal Saturday, as Okwuegbunam was targeted only one time. But at a certain point, it has to be on Okwuegbunam to get himself open and demand the ball. While Bryant has had his share of struggles the last two games, given how often the Tiger offense talks about getting Okwuegbunam, their best matchup in most passing situations, the ball, you would think Bryant is at least looking his way and the redshirt junior is just not getting open. Plus, Okwuegbunam didn't help his case Saturday by dropping his one target and committing a penalty in the first half. GRADE: F
Offensive line: Kentucky's defense line is still solid, but it hasn't been as good as last season's unit, anchored by Josh Allen. Yet Missouri made them look dominant. Kentucky recorded four sacks, including two forced fumbles, and an additional tackle for loss. They held Missouri to 3.7 yards per rush. Plus, the penalty problems continued, with three penalties accepted against offensive linemen and at least one more declined. Odom said last week the Tigers will go as the offensive line goes, and the past two weeks, that has proven true in the worst possible way. GRADE: F
Defensive line: The strength of Missouri's defense for much of the season, the defensive line got pushed around a bit by Kentucky's veteran offensive line. Jordan Elliott had probably his quietest game of the season, and outside of a couple tackles from Tre Williams, the defensive ends were invisible. When you know an opponent is going to run nearly every play and still give up more than 200 yards to the primary ball-carrier and nearly 300 yards to the team, the defensive line bears some blame. GRADE: D
Linebackers: Missouri missed Cale Garrett. The senior middle linebacker, who has now missed three games with a torn pectoral tendon, would have been instrumental in making sure his teammates filled the right gaps and could have erased some mistakes with his sure tackling. His two replacements at middle linebacker, true freshman Devin Nicholson (who made his first career start) and sophomore Cameron Wilkins, made a few decent plays but also got blocked with ease at times. Nick Bolton continues to look like a stud, but even he overran the play and couldn't shed a block on Kentucky's final touchdown of the game. GRADE: C-
Secondary: Saturday showed the importance of Tyree Gillespie. With Gillespie suspended for the first half due to a targeting penalty against Vanderbilt, true freshman Martez Manuel made his first start but didn't make much of an impact on the field. Manuel finished with one tackle. Gillespie, meanwhile, racked up five tackles, including two for loss, and got credited with a forced fumble in the second half. That helped Missouri's defense, but by that point, the Tigers had already surrendered 22 points. Fellow safety Joshuah Bledsoe missed a key tackle on one Lynn Bowden Jr. run, and Ronnell Perkins and Khalil Oliver deserve some fault for Bowden's success as well. The cornerbacks weren't asked to do much in coverage, but Jarvis Ware drew another costly penalty and could have been beat for a deep touchdown had Bowden delivered a better pass. Grade: D
Special Teams: Tucker McCann's confidence might have dipped all the way to 2016 levels, when he missed half of his 12 field goal attempts and four extra points and found himself briefly benched as a freshman. McCann missed a 43-yard kick Saturday that never came close to sneaking through the uprights. Even though it was into the wind and rain, the kick was McCann's fourth missed field goal in a row and his seventh missed kick of any variety in three weeks. Additionally, Odom said that Missouri knew Kentucky's Max Duffy represented a threat to keep the ball and run it for a fake punt if given the chance yet let Duffy do so anyway. If that's true, it reflects very poorly on special teams coordinator Andy Hill. GRADE: F
Coaching: Even in a vacuum, this game would have reflected poorly on the Missouri coaches, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Tigers dropped back to pass on 10 of 12 second quarter snaps despite the driving rain. Odom badly mismanaged the end of the first half, not recognizing when he should have punted on the team's final possession and allowed the clock to run out, which directly led to seven Kentucky points. And the Tigers knew Bowden was going to run the ball nearly every chance he got but still couldn't stop him. Throw in the fact that this loss comes on the tails of another road no-show against a double-digit underdog, and the lack of energy and execution displayed by Missouri becomes even more troubling. GRADE: F
Final Overall Grade: F