QUESTION: You guys have a better feel for Mizzou football culture than those who just watch the games. Does this team have a character problem? How else can you explain Albert O.'s taunting penalty after his touchdown on Saturday?
BENFRED: I agree with you on the Albert O taunt. He dominated a smaller player to score a touchdown that tied a game Missouri should not have been losing in the first place. Not that there's ever a need to taunt someone, but that was a situation where it made even less sense than usual.
I'm always cautious to correlate what you see on TV — Albert O laughing — with the play, but it is fair to wonder why a guy who made a senseless penalty was so upbeat so soon after the penalty.
My guess is no one thought it would matter. Mizzou was on the board and would roll Vanderbilt from that point forward — except that didn't happen.
And that, I think, is kind of the perplexing thing about this team. Its coach and its fans seem to have different expectations than the players.
That can be good and bad. You don't want guys crawling into a hole and hiding because they were so upset they lost to Wyoming. That's not what I mean. You have to be able to brush bad things off over the course of a season.
But seeing some of the comments from after the Vanderbilt game from some of the players — there are still a lot of games left, last season we were in a worse spot, etc. — raises questions about the mindset. I think that's fair. There are absolutely games that teams should expect to win, and in those games good teams conduct business as such.
Upsets happen. But they happen to Mizzou under Odom more than they should.
You know the losses kill Odom. Just watch his postgame press conferences. Why then do they not hit home with the players? Why do the same issues continue to lead to some of these brutal upsets? Odom has to find the answer. Is it getting too high on success, or overlooking teams that are expected to be easy wins, or something else entirely? Ironing that out is the next hurdle for this team.
Mizzou AD Jim Sterk wants the Tigers to be a top-25 team. Top-25 teams tend to have a standard of play that does not fluctuate based on the opponent. Top-25 teams can have, in their eyes, bad games in losses. That's because they play themselves as much as their opponent.
Mizzou is not there yet. Clearly.