That robs the punter just 40 yards past the line of scrimmage. Photo: Getty Images
For decades, Missouri’s football program has had an interesting aura about it, which basically boils down to the fact that strange things are about to happen to this team. It’s all about when chaos ensues. In today’s Batshit Crazy Southeastern Conference Football, we found out that a tackle box for a punter stretches from Mizzou’s home in Columbia to St. Louis, over 100 miles away. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but only a little. And the officials calling out a tackle box half the size of Show-Me State robbed the Tigers of their best shot at a win.
The Missouri defense played without a light during most of Saturday’s SEC East game against Kentucky, which was crucial to their participation in the Bowl. Wildcats quarterback Will Levis is a consensus top-10 pick in next year’s NFL draft and, at worst, is the third-best player at his position for draft scouts behind Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. He looked casual against Missouri, a credit to how good the Tigers’ defense was for most of the season. After the MU defense forced a Kentucky Kahn to return the ball to his offense late in the game, the strangest application of kicker roughing I’ve ever seen took place.
Kentucky’s long snapper heaved the ball so far through his legs over the head of Wildcats punter Colin Goodfellow that he had to frantically sprint for 20 yards to pick up the fumble. Miraculously, he beat every Missouri game to the ball. And had a split second to turn and boot it away to avoid giving the Tigers the first goal to start their next drive. When Goodfellow does so deftly, he is spanked by Missouri’s Will Norris, and almost immediately a penalty flag is thrown for roughing up the kicker.
Was the blow brutal? Secure. It’s football too and if Goodfellow is so fragile Norris made the right move to take him out. The ball would have exploded and a simple touchdown would have gotten in the way of the Tigers. But somehow the punter is a protected player 37 yards behind the line of scrimmage. I didn’t know tackle boxes were that big! Next time Josh Allen escapes the pressure and is about to be fired, why not kick? It will rough the passerby by this thinking.
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Missouri’s attack only scored 17 points and didn’t play well enough on its own to win the game. You can’t win most SEC games if you’re in third place by 2-13. But damn, MU got screwed here. And full disclosure—I covered Missouri as a reporter for my hometown newspaper for three years. I took Mizzou to task for everything they did wrong and would still do today. There’s no justification for that and Tigers fans have every reason to be angry.