How did last-second decision-making fare? Postgame grades from Mizzou's loss

As neither team separated itself in the second half, the SEC opener for Missouri and Auburn went to overtime.

Nathaniel Peat's fumble in the end zone was the decisive play Saturday in a deflating 17-14 loss after Missouri had multiple chances to win the game on the road.

Here are our postgame grades from Missouri's heartbreaking defeat.

Mizzou-Auburn postgame grades

Mizzou's offense

This unit deserved an F, or perhaps something lower, for its initial drives of the game. That included a three-and-out and an interception.

But the Tigers settled in after that dismal start.

Two second-quarter touchdown drives tied the game and gave Missouri momentum heading into halftime. That parlayed into defensive stops to start the second half. That's when the game went into a stalemate, where both teams traded punts and struggled to get any offensive rhythm going.

However, the biggest question remained: Where was Luther Burden? The five-star receiver was nowhere to be found in crunch time.

Peat led MU in rushing. He was physically up to the task of fighting through contact. However, Cody Schrader — who did score a touchdown — kept getting carries on second-and-short even when it felt like Peat had the hot hand at the moment.

The offense made its last stand, but couldn't get the last score to win in overtime.

Grade: C

Missouri wide receiver Dominic Lovett (7) makes a catch as Auburn cornerback Keionte Scott (6) defends during the second quarter Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Missouri wide receiver Dominic Lovett (7) makes a catch as Auburn cornerback Keionte Scott (6) defends during the second quarter Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

More:Three takeaways from Missouri's gut-wrenching overtime loss at Auburn

Missouri defense's tackling

Eli Drinkwitz stressed missed tackles as an area in need of improvement. Early on, that improvement remained to be seen. Auburn running back Tank Bigsby had 10 first-quarter carries and went through the defense on most of them.

However, the Missouri defense settled in and improved in the second quarter, which carried into the second half.

Missouri stymied the Auburn running attack thanks to Jayden Jernigan, Ty'Ron Hopper and Isaiah McGuire. It helped that Auburn kept Bigsby on the sidelines at times. When he did get the ball, players like Daylan Carnell tackled well enough to hold Auburn in check.

Auburn's offensive line was suspect coming into Saturday. Missouri took full advantage of that by winning in the defensive trenches. So far, the defense has been the biggest bright spot on this team. It's kept MU in games. There was no bigger play than stopping Auburn on fourth-and-short late in the fourth quarter.

That's all anyone can ask for.

Grade: B

Missouri quarterback Brady Cook (12) directs his receiver during the second quarter against Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Missouri quarterback Brady Cook (12) directs his receiver during the second quarter against Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

Mizzou's offensive line

The offensive line's performance was better but by no means outstanding compared to last Saturday.

The line didn't lose the game, but it still wasn't a reason Missouri was successful. Penalties kept drives from developing. That continued against Auburn.

In the fourth quarter, the mistakes reared their head. Connor Wood was flagged for holding on a first-down run by Schrader that would have kept Missouri on the move. Instead, the drive resulted in a punt. There was a false start on the game's last drive of regulation that yielded key yards.

However, the line held strong and didn't allow a sack on the final drive of regulation.

Grade: C

Mizzou linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper

That's the player Missouri knew it was getting.

Hopper was all over the field as the defense kept the team in the game with an opportunity to take the lead.

He finished the day with 11 tackles and four tackles for loss, none bigger than forcing a turnover on downs. Hopper's ninth tackle of the day was a sack in the third quarter.

If he can carry that success into the coming weeks, MU will boast one of the best defensive players in the league.

Grade: A

Auburn wide receiver Shedrick Jackson (11) is tackled by Missouri defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine (14) during the second quarter Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Auburn wide receiver Shedrick Jackson (11) is tackled by Missouri defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine (14) during the second quarter Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

Eli Drinkwitz's decision-making

This is the kind of decision that will be analyzed all season long.

Moving the chains for a first-and-goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Missouri opted to play it safe and trust its All-American kicker to win the game. Harrison Mevis then missed a 26-yard field goal.

Why was there not a shot or two in the end zone from what was just a few yards away? Why was Burden not involved? If Cook knelt one more yard over, would Mevis have made the kick?

These are too many questions for which we probably will never get the answers.

Grade: Incomplete

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Postgame grades from Mizzou's loss to Auburn