Don’t blame Andrew Baggett for the Missouri Tigers‘ loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night. Yes, he missed a 24-yard field goal in overtime to keep the game alive, but this loss isn’t on him.
First of all, kicking a short field goal all the way from the left hash mark is a much smaller window than most people realize. Secondly, this is college football, not the NFL. The sophomore kicker is a kid who has a full class schedule on top of the huge pressure of kicking on a BCS top-5 team.
When I think of where I was at that age, the thought of handling that much of a load is just laughable. This loss is not on any of the young guys ─ it is squarely on Gary Pinkel and the Tigers’ coaching staff. With any loss in college football, we should always look at the grown men who are paid the big bucks to get the job done, and not the kids.
In this case, Pinkel’s inexcusably poor clock management and cowardly play-calling cost Mizzou a chance to put this game away in regulation. Down seven, the Gamecocks had a first-and-goal from the Missouri one-yard line with about 1:15 left in the game. The Tigers stuffed South Carolina at the two and for reasons beyond logic, failed to call one of their two timeouts. The Gamecocks ran the clock down to 42 seconds and tied the game on a two-yard TD pass.
After a touchback, Mizzou had the ball at the 25-yard line with 42 seconds and two timeouts. That is more than enough time to get down the field for a field goal attempt to put the game away ─ especially with the Tigers’ arsenal of big receivers. Pinkel decided to run one screen pass, and let the clock wind down to head into OT.
Even with 42 ticks left, Missouri had plenty of time, but they could’ve had over a minute if anyone on the Mizzou sideline was using their head. With an offense full of weapons, Pinkel didn’t trust his guys and played the role of John Fox in the Denver Broncos’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens last season. It’s a terrible shame that the young Tigers weren’t given their shot because of cowardly, flat-out bad coaching.