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Playin’ Nice: Rock M Nation

Rock M Nation’s Sammy Stava previews the other, other Tigers

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I got home late last night and couldn’t really come up with a really original introduction, so let’s get right to business. LSU is playing Missouri on Saturday —we’re assuming in Columbia but it is not yet official— and joining us today from our sister site Rock M Nation is Sammy Stava. You can find Sammy on Twitter @StavaonSTL.

1. This is kind of a broad question but Missouri’s probably the football program LSU fans are the least familiar with. What do they need to know about the other, other Tigers?

Missouri has been a program that has seen their fair share of ups and downs since joining the SEC. From winning the SEC East division twice (in back-to-back seasons) to not even making bowl games, it’s been difficult to find that sustained success year-in and year-out.

It’s a program that can certainly compete in this conference, but it’s going to take the right head coach with the right system and timing. Barry Odom (who I thought did an admirable job all things considered), was fired last year after an incredibly disappointing 6-6 season filled with high expectations.

With the head coaching change, Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk is expecting this program to be a consistent Top 25 program and competing for conference championships. For that to happen, they need an elite recruiter of a head coach to compete with the top programs. First-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz has his work cut out for him, but I believe he has the potential to bring Mizzou to the next level. It’s just going to take some time.

2. Mizzou’s been out scored by a combined 42 points to start the season. Is this a sign of things to come this year, and what positives can be taken away from the losses to Alabama and Tennessee?

Yep, unfortunately you can say that Mizzou is going to be in for a long season. Welcome to a rebuilding and transition year. It sucks, but it is what it is. With a first-year head coach, the COVID challenges, and arguably the toughest schedule in the country – it’s just a recipe for disaster.

While Missouri is currently 0-2, it’s not all doom and gloom. The losses to Alabama and Tennessee were of course expected. Mizzou held their own against the Tide, but I thought last week against the Volunteers was a little disappointing as it looked like they took a step back. The effort, heart, buy-in (whatever you want to call it) is there, but the execution isn’t. There has been some positives, they have shown some flashes of what they can become under Drinkwitz, but they just haven’t put it all together quite yet.

3. Mizzou’s played two quarterbacks, Shawn Robinson and Connor Bazelak, and both have put up decent numbers at best. Why have both seen so much playing time and who gives Missouri the best chance to have success?

There’s a good chance that you will see both quarterbacks play on Saturday night. Shawn Robinson got the start the first two games of the season, but it was announced on Tuesday that redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak will get the start. In the first two games, Robinson and Bazelak have made some plays here and there, but they haven’t developed any real consistency.

While TCU transfer Robinson has the most experience, Bazelak has the most upside and potential. He’s the future of this program under Drinkwtiz, so I’m starting to think Bazelak has the best chance to succeed.

4. Two things that stand out to me about Missouri’s defense is how much success teams have running the ball and converting third downs. Missouri’s opponents are averaging 172 rushing yards and converting 55 percent of their third downs. What’s the cause of all these early season struggles?

Last season, Missouri’s run defense was respectfully a bright spot on the team, ranking 31st in the country overall. Right now, there’s just not a whole lot of talent on this defensive line and going up against the talent of Alabama and Tennessee running backs presents quite the challenge. Barely any spring practice and an unusual fall camp schedule probably didn’t help matters, either.

5. Finally, rank the SEC Tiger mascots from most adorable: Mike, Aubbie and Truman

Oh, give me 1. Truman (great name and a cute little fella). 2. Mike (handsome boy) and 3. Aubbie (no one likes Auburn, right?)

Bonus follow up question: if this game gets moved to CoMo what is that environment like?

If this game gets moved to Columbia, it’s safe to say that the environment won’t be anything special this season. With limited fans (25 percent capacity), no tailgating, and an unexpected home game, COMO might be a ghost town. But it would be LSU’s first trip to Missouri in the SEC so that would be cool.

Otherwise, Columbia is a great college town and on the right Saturdays, it could be a great game day environment. College Gameday has been to COMO before, and for good reason.