Missouri needs to make running back Damarea Crockett a bigger part of its offense in Saturday's game against Auburn. (File) 

By Spencer Gleason

The first goal for the Missouri Tigers as they began preparing for Saturday’s game against Auburn was to forget everything that had happened the last two weeks.

“Even though we’re three games in there’s plenty of negativity,” said head coach Barry Odom. “We haven’t played well enough to win the games we’ve wanted to. You look at things they (the players) are probably hearing outside of our walls, here. It’d be the same thing if we were 3-0 – we’d be hearing how great we were. Really, we’re not. We’re 1-2 and probably hearing how terrible we are.

“There’s always a little life in between there: You’re never as good, never as bad as it seems. We’ve got to focus on what we control, go prepare and stay tight as a team. And enjoy the opportunity to go compete.”

The Tigers lost 35-3 to Purdue last week in a non-conference game and return to the rigors of the SEC schedule this week against 15th-ranked Auburn. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Columbia, and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Two weeks ago, Missouri lost 31-13 in its conference opener against South Carolina.

“(We’re) looking forward to the new week,” Odom said. “We suffered a tough loss and didn’t play enough, really on either side of the ball.”

Missouri’s offense has struggled in the past two games, beginning with quarterback Drew Lock. After setting school records in Missouri’s season-opener against Missouri State, Lock has had back-to-back weeks where he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. In the Tigers’ last 25 possessions they have only scored one touchdown.

Some of that can be attributed to their inability to successfully run the football, thus making them one-dimensional. As a team last week, Missouri had 24 carries for 70 yards against Purdue.

“We’ve got to be able to run the football. We were not able to do that the other day,” Odom said. “That’s a whole level of frustration because if we can’t run the ball that’s going to make it very difficult.”

Despite the Tigers’ recent struggles offensively, Auburn head coach Gus Gus Malzahn said he is fully aware of Missouri’s ability to go downfield.

“When you look at Missouri, they’ve got playmakers on the offensive of the football,” he said this week. “They’ve got a lot of speed at wide receiver; they’ve got a quarterback that can throw it. They’re very explosive on the offensive side of the football.”

Missouri’s challenge of getting its offense back in gear comes against an Auburn team ranked second nationally in total defense and 11th in the country in scoring defense. In three games Auburn has only allowed 201.7 yards per game and 10.3 points per game.

“We’ve got to be really, really mature competitors once we arrive at the stadium and be ready to play,” Odom said. “We have to understand we’re going to have adversity. We’re going to have things that really test your mental conditioning and the mental aspect of the game. Some good things are going to happen and you’ve got to withstand that and not get too high in the moment. You’ve got to also withstand the things that don’t go in your favor, lock arms and keep playing.”

So far this season, things have not gone in Missouri’s favor. The Tigers hope that changes on Saturday.

“Our team’s really in good shape in terms of mental aspect, togetherness and leadership,” Odom said. “I don’t question any of that, at all. I want nothing more than for these guys to keep working the way they’re working and to get some results for the things they’re putting in. That’s what I’m trying to get ironed out