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With a loss at home to Vanderbilt, Mizzou's inaugural SEC season nose dives into dark territory
There was plenty to be excited about for Missouri Tiger football this season. A new conference, a talented and experienced defense, an athletic, dual-threat junior quarterback and then we got no line, we can't beat Vanderbilt at home...OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!
This hasn't been the best introduction to our newest SEC rivals. Mizzou is quickly becoming the punchline at every watering hole south of Columbia, Missouri and Gary Pinkel's seat is starting to pre-heat.
It's obvious now that Pinkel's job is certainly in question.
Now before you guys go all "GUS MALZAHN NOW" on me, let's face some facts here before we put our once-beloved ball coach in a jumbo-sized vat of tar and feathers.
James Franklin has been hurt since spring ball and a sprained knee probably could've been played on, but at what risk? Franklin is a junior and the best bet is to sit him out
and not let Alabama tear him limb from limb for the next few weeks. Franklin is the best option at quarterback. I'll get to Corbin Berkstresser later...
The offensive line is laughable to say the least. Pinkel can recruit every #1 receiver in the land he wishes, but if you don't have a line in place to even compete with the best in the SEC, you just may as well send those boys on to the NFL. I will say that Evan Boehm has played admirably though. The true freshman has graded out well. I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the offensive front. The snaps from center continue to cost this team each week.
The season is not lost, but it's about to be put on life support if the O-line claims another victim in Corbin Berkstresser. Berkstresser is clearly not better than Franklin. He struggled with getting the ball to his receivers and let's not forget, he's a freshman. But for now he's the Tigers' only option and hopefully, he can scratch out a win in Franklin's absence.
If Maty Mauk's redshirt is burned in a non-bowl season, that would create a less than ideal situation. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Mauk go all Chase-Daniel-vs-Iowa-State-in-2005 for the remainder of the 2012 season, but that's probably not going to happen. Plus, there's no way I want him playing behind this offensive line. If it comes to that, science help us.
There's plenty to be worried about. Pinkel's game calling, especially late in the halves, is a growing concern. With the talent that is on this roster, I'm befuddled at how the Tigers sit at just 3-3. It's difficult to see the Tigers overcoming these setbacks to achieve bowl eligibility and in their first SEC season, that's not a good thing.
I recall when Kansas had planned large stadium upgrades (much like Missouri is) after their stupid 2007-09 run. A couple of disastrous seasons and those donor contributions dried up...and well, the rest is hilarious football history.
I'm not saying Mizzou is headed down the path to football irrelevance. That would break hearts all across the fine state of Missouri. Pinkel is too good of a recruiter and program builder to let that happen. Which is why calling for his job is not an appropriate response to the current state of affairs at Faurot Field.
I warned those who were excited about the conference switch about this and my worst fears are coming true. There are still a few winnable games left on the schedule, but I can't help but see 5-7 or 4-8 in this team's future. This team has to travel to three of the toughest stadiums in organized sports in three of their last four games and has to come away with at least one win. Plus, after losing to Vanderbilt, I'm not willing to call any game a sure-win for Mizzou. Heading into the Swamp, Rocky Top and College Station and coming away with one win is a tall order for this team right now and I'm even having doubts as to whether this squad can win another game all year.
But now it's on to the #1 team in all of the land, the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are going to try their damndest to turn Faurot into Bryant-Denny North. I'm just hoping no one else gets hurt.