Garrett Jones, sports writer at The Maneater, answered a few questions from The Auburn Plainsman ahead of Auburn’s matchup with Missouri this Saturday.
1. Can you give us a scouting report on some key playmakers for Missouri, specifically quarterback Drew Lock?
Missouri’s biggest playmakers are found on offense. The team put up a whopping 72 points in week one (albeit against FCS opponent Missouri State). Junior QB Drew Lock is the leader of the offense; his talent has been heralded nationally since he was a high-school recruit. His main problem since he took over the starting job as a freshman has been his inconsistency. After the team’s impressive effort in week one, the offense scored a measly 16 points in its next two games.
Strangely, the key to stopping Lock is giving him time to throw. He seems to perform better when under duress. Recently, when given time to throw, he has made poor decisions. He has been sacked just once in the past two games, but has thrown four interceptions in the two losses.
Other key playmakers include sophomore running back Damarea Crockett, who rushed for 1,062 yards last season as a freshman. He’s been banged up with a tailbone injury recently, but if healthy, could have a big impact on this game.
It may sound silly, but punter Corey Fatony may be the best player on this team. He’s had a great start to his season, averaging 50 yards per punt, and his performance and personality has led him local media stardom.
2. What is the attitude around the program right now following a big, tough loss to Purdue?
The players, coaches, and representatives of the athletic department all have the right attitude and are saying the right things. The team held a players-only meeting on Tuesday. Head Coach Barry Odom said he remained confident with the team’s effort and overall locker-room demeanor. Athletic Director Jim Sterk didn’t shy away from acknowledging that last Saturday’s performance was a stinker.
From the student and fan’s perspective, frankly it’s terrible. Many left last week’s loss to Purdue at halftime when their Tigers trailed 28-3. Some questioned the team’s effort, and have grown increasingly frustrated as the team isn’t showing definitive signs of improvement under Odom in his second year coaching.
That being said, if the team puts up a fight against Auburn, it could go a long way into getting the students on board for the team’s chances in 2017. Missouri football fans have endured highs and lows with this program before.
3. Who are some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball that could make some plays vs. Stidham and Co.?
Sophomore linebacker Cale Garrett has emerged as a leader on the defensive side of the ball for Missouri, recording an impressive 12 total tackles last week. Junior defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. has emerged as a defensive threat, recording 1.5 total sacks through his first three games in 2017.
Defense has been a huge problem for Missouri this season; the team even fired its defensive coordinator, Demontie Cross prior to last week’s loss.
4. What can Auburn fans expect of their trip to Columbia?
Personally, I describe Columbia as the quintessential college town. The campus is beautiful. Memorial Stadium and its 71,000 seat capacity offers a different feel than the larger Southeastern Conference stadiums. A thriving downtown scene with a variety of food and entertainment options offers something for everyone. Missouri fans are friendly and welcoming, and though it might be on a much smaller scale than SEC West schools, the tailgating scene is impressive.
5. Score prediction?
Auburn 28, Missouri 14.
I think Missouri has a good chance of keeping it close early, but the talent of Auburn’s roster will help them pull away late.