For the second straight week, Faurot Field was the site of a slaughter.
Missouri was decimated by Auburn 51-14 on Saturday night, its third consecutive loss by at least four touchdowns. Like last week against Purdue, the result was solidified early: Auburn led 14-0 after seven minutes, 21-0 after 17 minutes and 28-0 after 23 minutes.
Then, 2 minutes, 37 seconds into his postgame press conference, coach Barry Odom released the emotion he had suppressed through a dismal three-game stretch for the Tigers.
“I am going to talk real quick about the state of the program,” he said, voice rising. “Here’s the narrative, all right? Pens ready. Microphones on. Let’s talk real life and where we are at.
“I want to get one thing real straight: I am going to win here. That is going to happen. We will win. This is a turnaround. Any way you slice it or dice it or look at it, this is a turnaround process. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I am built for this, because I have been in a whole heck of a lot of them my entire life.”
Odom launched into a rant that started with 1997, when he was a sophomore linebacker at Missouri under coach Larry Smith. The Tigers went 7-5 that year, their first winning season in 14 years.
“His ass went and fought for 14 years and finally broke down the wall,” Odom said of Smith, who took over in 1994 and went 11-24 in his first three seasons. “He did it, all right? There are a lot of people who went and sacrificed and did a lot of things to get that turned around. I was part of it. I was in the locker room. I saw it. I was a captain. I know what it takes. OK?”
He then moved to 2004, Gary Pinkel’s fourth year in charge. Missouri went 5-6 that season after going 8-5 the year before.
“Everyone wanted to run Gary Pinkel out of town,” Odom shouted. “That is pretty damn foolish. All he has done is become the winningest coach in program history. That was a turnaround. It took time. That’s where we are at. OK? It’s a turnaround. I don’t like it. I want to win right now, but that’s not the hand I am given. We are doing a lot of really good things in this program. Our kids are working extremely hard. We aren’t winning games yet. But we will. I am the man to go get it done with this staff, with this team, with this program.”
There are a multitude of shortcomings on this Missouri football team, which has been outscored 107-20 since it took a 10-0 lead on South Carolina two weeks ago. They aren’t limited to one phase of the game. Since the opener, the offense, defense and special teams have all played less than winning football.
Odom asserted that he had been through far worse, even in this program.
“There’s not anybody left standing after 2015. I am. I know what it takes,” he said at a yell. “You talk about dark days. I heard that over here walking across the street. I have seen a damn dark day. July 12, 2005. Aaron O’Neal. That’s a dark day. This ain’t dark days. This is when the going get tough, you build them together, you fight together, and you go find a way to get it done. That’s where we are at. It’s part of a turnaround process.”
Then, between words, he slammed his hands on the podium.
“It is not going to be easy,” he said
There is work to be done during the upcoming bye week, which Odom called “hugely important.”
The defense gives up big plays — 12 of more than 30 yards this season — chronically. Auburn registered its four longest plays of the season on Faurot Field — all went for at least 46 yards.
The passing game is hampered by untimely reads and inconsistent hands. Missouri’s receivers dropped five passes on third downs alone Saturday night, and Drew Lock’s only interception was a slant that slammed off Jason Reese’s hands into the waiting arms of Carlton Davis.
Missouri has not won the turnover battle once all season and lost it 4-0 on Saturday. It has not won the penalty battle in any game, either — it had seven for 55 yards against Auburn, which had five for 50 yards.
“We’re not making the plays we need to,” said Lock, who was 23 of 39 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and an interception despite playing with a broken nose he suffered in practice earlier in the week. “We’re getting outplayed right now. That’s just about it. We have a good scheme going into it. I thought we did a lot of good things today. The amount of good things we had just wasn’t enough.”
The bevy of deficiencies resulted in blowouts that have sent droves of fans away in the second half for two straight weeks and has this season looking like one of the program’s worst in decades, perhaps even predating Pinkel’s 16-year coaching career.
Odom called out the team’s critics, consolidating the group into a (possibly) imaginary, single, personified entity.
“I’ve got a guy who is the third-team left tackle from Rock Bridge High School that has a Twitter account that has 12 followers, and he wants to put out how terrible we are. All right? That’s the way this society is. We go and and we read and we think, ‘Oh, my gosh. Missouri football … we’re this and we’re that.’
“We haven’t won yet. But I’ve got a group of guys that went to the hospital yesterday and took care of a kid. I’m building the future of this football team and this program and our kids’ lives, and they’re going to go be successful all the years of their life. They’re going to have adversity in their life, and they’re going to go back to this point on how they respond. So I’m good. I’ve got a platform to be able to go build it. I know what I’ve got in the locker room. We’re going to go win.”
On Auburn’s first play of the game, Missouri rushed three and dropped eight into quarters coverage. Jarrett Stidham lofted a 58-yard pass to Kyle Davis, who caught it over Logan Cheadle for Auburn’s longest gain of the season. The Tigers scored five plays later to make it 7-0.
Auburn would record its second-longest gain of the season on a 57-yard touchdown pass to Nate Craig-Myers in the third quarter.
Its third-longest gain of the season came on a 47-yard run by Kam Martin in the second quarter, and its fourth-longest on a 46-yard pass to Will Hastings in the first quarter.
Missouri got on the board in the second quarter when a 19-yard screen pass from Lock to Damarea Crockett finished a 10-play, 78-yard drive that made it 28-7.
Its only other points were on a 25-yard pass from Lock to J’Mon Moore in garbage time, making it 51-14.