25 September 2011

Down, but Never Out

Tigers again show maturity in loss
by Mizzou Matt 9/25/11
If there is anything good that can come out of last night's loss to no-1 ranked Oklahoma, it is this- Missouri is good. Damn good. They proved they can run with the best of them. They once again proved the "experts" wrong.

So far this season the Tigers have outscored their opponents 144-81, a stat that is skewed heavily from the 69-0 destruction of Western Illinois. In the turnover department, Missouri has intercepted opponents four times and has recovered two fumbles, for a total of six takeaways while the offense has only given the ball away three times- one interception and two fumbles. That puts Missouri at +3 in the turnover margin. A welcome sight after some questionable throws by last year's starter Blaine Gabbert wound up in the defense's clutches.

One stat that is a major area of concern, however, is the penalties. Through four games, Mizzou has been penalized 36 times, an average of nine per game, for 307 yards. They're donating an average of 76.8 penalty yards per game to their opponents. Last year's squad averaged just under five penalties per game on the year. Through just four games, we've nearly doubled that. One thing is for sure- the Tigers need to learn discipline. Late hits, pass interferences, offsides, holding, facemasks...all easily preventable with the proper discipline. As we move on into the conference season, the penalties should, in theory, start to die off. Last night, the Tigers were penalized seven times for 45 yards to Oklahoma's four for 15. The Sooners' penalties came in pairs- two in the first quarter, two in the fourth.

"I'd say we beat ourselves tonight," said running back Henry Josey. "It's just those little things that we have to fix."

The defensive secondary for Missouri, which was thought to be an area of concern, wasn't, then was. They started off playing press coverage while the defensive line pinned their ears back and went after Jones. They mixed up their coverage package, sent some d-backs in on a blitz and kept the Sooners on their heels. Their confusing schemes led to a Kenji Jackson interception. But then something happened. It seemed that after Ryan Broyles' touchdown that was reviewed, the defense started a transformation. As the game progressed, the coverage got softer. The D-line stopped getting penetration. They went from having their ears pinned back to putting their tail between their legs. The linebackers were still crushing the ball carrier, though. Commentator Gus Johnson said of Andrew Wilson, "The guy can hit. The team says he's the hardest hitter out there." Perhaps safety Matt White could take some pointers from Wilson after getting steamrolled by Columbia, MO native fullback Trey Millard.

Trey Barrow punted for a season-high eight times last night, which shows that we couldn't extend our drives on crucial downs, and the time of possession backs this up. The Tigers were -4:46 in TOP against Oklahoma, only holding the ball for 27:37 of a 60 minute game. Place kicker Grant Ressel has been struggling, going 0/2 last night and only 6/10 on the year. "We have to work on Grant. He's struggling a little bit," head coach Gary Pinkel said. "He's got a lot of ability. We've got to help him get his confidence back."

At one point, quarterback James Franklin was 1/8 on a series of eight passes. A few of them were catchable balls, just off the receivers hands and there was some miscommunication on a couple others, but SEVEN straight incompletions. Still, Franklin just has the one interception committed in the Miami (OH) game on September 3rd. He's reading the plays well, looking off receivers and not just throwing the ball up for grabs. He is, however, antsy in the pocket and needs to learn to A) get outside the tackles, and B) throw the ball BEYOND the line of scrimmage. He was charged with two intentional grounding penalties last night, which carries with them a spot-foul and a loss of down.

Franklin has been doing pretty well for a first year starter, but he needs to start finding his playmakers. All-American tight end Michael Egnew only had two catches for 40 yards, including a catch that left Sooner defensive back Aaron Colvin seeing stars. As Egnew hauled in the pass, Colvin went for the clean-up, knock out hit. It was a knock out alright. "Brick walls weren't meant for d-backs." one Tiger fan said in a message board on Facebook. T.J. Moe went 7 receptions for 119 yards. L'Damian Washington had one for 45. Jerrell Jackson, who did plenty of trash talking in the week prior to the game, finished with two for 36.
Starting running back Henry Josey, who got the starting spot by process of elimination due to injuries, reeled off yet another outstanding performance. His 14 carry, 133 yard night propelled his season total to 533, good enough for fifth in the country. He's in some elite company. LeMichael James of Oregon is first while Denard Robinson of Michigan is fourth on that list. Franklin, who after Pinkel said rushed the ball too much against Arizona State (team/season high 27), rushed the ball 25 times for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator David Yost seems to still be relying heavily on quarterback draws and other designed runs for Franklin, much to the disgruntled moans of some fans.

But the Tigers showed again why they're one of the more dark horse teams to look out for this year. All the "experts" were predicting Oklahoma would trounce Missouri by 21+. All the "experts" thought Franklin's inexperience would be exploited on the big stage. All the "experts" thought Mizzou wouldn't be able to hang with the Sooners. All the "experts" were proven wrong, again. Not only did Missouri keep it close at the end, they managed to do what no other team prior could do against OU- lead. The Tigers' early score in the first marked the first time all season that Oklahoma has trailed in a game. Missouri even built up an 11-point lead before Oklahoma closed the gap and scored at about the 6:30 mark in the second to take the lead. The Tigers showed they can close the gap, again, and bring themselves back from the dead. Were the two scores too little, too late? That's an obvious yes because they still lost, but they did prove that Mizzou can score at almost any time and you should never count out the Tigers.

24 September 2011

Definitely Not WIU

Tigers fall to OU in Norman
by Mizzou Matt 9/24/11
NORMAN, OK- "Mizzou wins! 36-27!" That's all that's been on Oklahoma's mind since last year's loss to Missouri in the Tigers' 99th Homecoming in 2010. The Tigers were looking to do something they haven't done since 1965-66: Beat the Sooners back to back. They're also looking to do something they haven't done since 1966: Beat OU on Owen Field. The Tigers are coming off of a 69-0 rout of Western Illinois while the Sooners are fresh off a 23-13 win over then 5th-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee.

The game started off with a bang for Mizzou fans. Oklahoma received the ball, and after falling short on 3rd & 1, they punted the ball away. The Tigers took the ball and capped off a very impressive drive with a James Franklin 1-yd TD rush. The Sooners would respond with a field goal, but the Tigers would drive back and score again to make it 14-3. The middle part would be the source of aggression, depression and a lot of alcohol consumption by Missouri fans as OU would post 28 unanswered points to build up a 31-14 lead.

Flashbacks of Texas Tech from 2010 where the Tigers scored 14 in the 1st, then seemed to have run out of gas.

The Tigers showed a bit of life in the 4th, with a long touchdown rush by Henry Josey to cut the lead to 10, but the Sooners would score again with 3:35 to build their lead back to 17, 38-21. Mizzou threatened late in the game, as QB James Franklin found Michael Egnew to get them to the 13 yard line of the Sooners. After a 11-yard run by Franklin to get them to the 2, Mizzou was finally able to punch it in on Franklin's second QB sneak of the night.

Flashbacks to the Nebraska 2010 game where the Tigers struggled early, but mounted a comeback late.

And just like in the Nebraska '10 game, it wasn't meant to be. Final score in Norman: 38-28. It could be called moral victory for Mizzou as they beat the Vegas spread and the "experts" predictions, but moral victories don't show up on stat sheets. Nonetheless, it was a maturing experience for the team as they fall to 2-2, 0-1 on the year. OU remains undefeated at 4-0, 1-0 and according to Gus Johnson, "seem virtually unstoppable."

The commentators carried a heavy bias against Mizzou in the game. Johnson, who broadcasted the Mizzou - Kansas Border War basketball game last year, announced tonight in the exact same fashion- completely against Mizzou.

The officials also played a big role, but most of the flags were for mental errors. Penalties were the name of the game again for the Tigers, and the lack of penalties called against OU added to their woes. The Sooner false start in the 4th was the first penalty called against them since around the 12:00 mark in the 1st. Defensive back Trey Hobson had a costly penalty against him, a pass interference on 3rd and long, to give OU a fresh set of downs. That would lead to an Sooner touchdown. Oklahoma was only penalized four times for 15 yards to the Tigers' seven for 37.

The secondary was picked on all night by Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, and it came with only two errors. An interception by Kenji Jackson and another one by E.J. Gaines.

An interesting story of the night was placekicker Grant Ressel for Mizzou. One of the nation's most accurate kicker in 2010 (only missed two field goals and one extra point) went 0/2 in the game. Could it be the cast on his left arm is throwing off his balance of his power step? Regardless the reason, Missouri's inability to extend drives is ultimately what killed them in this game. Much like the Tech game from last year, they went away from what worked, which in this case was giving the ball to Josey. Punter Trey Barrow booted the ball eight (8) times for 377 yards. Take into count the three touchbacks, and that 377 magically becomes 317.

The Tigers have a week off before traveling to Manhattan, KS to take on the Wildcats of Kansas State on October 8th.

22 September 2011

Beebe Resigns

Big 12 commish steps down
by Mizzou Matt 9/22/11
WANTED: Individual to take the reigns of the Big 12 athletic conference. Requirements: Must know how to say "No" to the University of Texas.

That would be nice, wouldn't it? To have a commissioner that knew how to say no to schools that ask for too much? Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe stepped down today after demands by Oklahoma that he step down. The demand came on the heels of the PAC-12 deciding to not expand to 16 teams, which would've included the addition of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Sooners said in no uncertain terms that if they were to stay in the Big 12, "Dan Beebe has to go." After Beebe stepped down Thursday morning, the interim commissioner is Chuck Neinas, who was the commissioner of the old Big 8 conference. The Big 8 later became the Big 12 in 1996 when the Big 8 and the Southwest Athletic Conference merged.

As far as the possibility of a move to the SEC, Mizzou chancellor (and chairman of the Big 12 board) Brady Deaton stays mute about it. Deaton did say that the Big 12 is reactivating their expansion committee to consider if new members will be admitted.

21 September 2011

Monumental Task

FX's "Game of the Week"
by Mizzou Matt 9/21/11
COLUMBIA, MO- This weekend, the Tigers will look to do what they have only done twice in 20 years- beat Oklahoma. Coming off of last year's 36-27 upset in Columbia, the Sooners again find themselves atop the polls at number one. Again, the "experts" are predicting the Sooners to win. Again, Mizzou has something to prove.

Coming off of a 69-0 scrimmage against Western Illinois, the Sooners (3-0) will prove to be the toughest test for the Tigers (2-1) this year. Oklahoma is coming off of a 23-13 victory over 5th-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee last week.

The key for the Tigers this season appears to be "give the ball to Josey". Henry Josey has 400 yards rushing on the season after his 14 carry, 263 yard, 3 touchdown performance against the Leathernecks. Josey broke 9 carries for 94 yards against ASU and 6 for 43 against Miami (OH). During the game against the Sun Devils, the ESPN announcers described Josey as "The ability to hit the home run".

Quarterback James Franklin has passed 61/93 for 694 yards on the season, including 6 touchdowns and an interception. Since the 129 yard performance against Miami (OH), Franklin has passed for 319 at ASU and 246 vs WIU, respectively. The one lonely interception came in the season opener.

The Sooners look to be the dominant team in this match up, and the "experts" are predicting them by 19.5 points. They may be the better team on paper with quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles, but they also don't have their leading rusher from last year DeMarco Murray, and they'll be without starting wide receiver Trey Franks, who was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Missouri, however, returns a veteran defensive line that overpowered the Sooners last year. Brad Madison, Terrell Resonno, Dominique Hamilton (depsite being injured in last year's game), Jacquies Smith (return questionable after dislocating elbow against Miami [OH]) and with new comer Sheldon Richardson. The Tigers have depth on the defensive line, but what they don't have is depth at other key defensive positions, namely, linebacker. Will Ebner is expected to miss the game with a high ankle sprain. That leaves reserve-turned-starter Andrew Wilson, Zavier Gooden and 6th-year senior Luke Lambert, with Donovan Bonner, Darvin Ruise, Tony Randolph and Jared Parham as possible subs. Freshman linebacker Kentrell Brothers is out for the season following surgery.

The offensive line is also an area of concern for the Tigers. After losing veteran left tackle Elvis Fisher, they've been susceptible to blitzes from that side as opponents try to use Justin Britt's inexperience against him. Jack Meiners, Austin Wuebbles, Dan Hoch have been solid, but the center position has been injury prone as Travis Ruth, who missed games with a strained Achilles tendon looks to get locked into the position vacated by Tim Barnes.

Questionable is T.J. Moe. Moe gingerly walked off the field favoring his leg after a punt return in the 2nd quarter against WIU, and never returned to the game. Jerrell Jackson made his return last week, and much like last year, is looking to have a stellar game. A wide variety of receivers saw playing time last week, including freshman Jimmie Hunt, who scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on a 54 yard pass from Jimmy Costello (also Costello's first TD at Mizzou). Marcus Lucas, L'Damian Washington, Wes Kemp, Brandon Gerau are expected to see playing time in Norman.

Mizzou will not look to their stars to get them past the Sooners. Instead, they'll look to their team to do it. Many teams rely on one or two players to get them through, this season, the Tigers have relied on 22. Eleven on offense, eleven on defense. There really is no one star player. All there is is a star team.

20 September 2011

Conference Realignment Shakes Up College Sports

A Mizzou Student's Editorial
via Steve Goldberg
It's September, and the smell of college football is in the air on every campus across America. As a student, you live for spending your Saturday afternoons cheering your team to victory.

However, turn on ESPN for just a few minutes and you will soon realize that the focus is not on the usual upsets and early BCS predictions. Instead, rumors are constantly circulating on television and the Internet about the schools headed for new conferences.

Last offseason, Colorado and Nebraska decided to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-12 and Big Ten, respectively. This offseason, Texas A&M decided to leave the Big 12 and play in the SEC next year. There is talk that Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State will soon leave the conference as well.

So what does that mean for the future of the athletic programs at the remaining Big 12 schools? Six schools are left without a home; Missouri, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas. These schools were committed to a conference that is now falling apart and inching closer to its demise every day.

As a student at the University of Missouri, I find myself stuck in the middle of all this madness. Mizzou has said they will stay in the Big 12 until the conference falls apart, but the future of our athletic program is now out of their control. The school's fate will ultimately be determined by the decisions of Oklahoma and Texas.

If Oklahoma and Texas decide to stay in the Big 12, the situation becomes quite simple. The conference will survive and will likely add one more team, possibly Houston, BYU or SMU.

If Oklahoma and Texas decide to leave, chaos will erupt in the world of college sports. According to a report in the Kansas City Star, the SEC will invite Missouri to join their conference if the Big 12 collapses.

From a geographic standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. Missouri is a Midwest school with no ties in the Southeastern United States.

However, the move makes perfect sense from a financial standpoint. With the SEC's lucrative television deal and equal revenue sharing, the school would have more money to spend on upgrading their athletic facilities.

Analysts are constantly talking about how this will impact football and men's basketball, the two most popular college sports. However, people do not usually consider the effect of conference realignment on less popular sports, like soccer or volleyball.

These student athletes will now be spending less time in the classroom and more time on the road traveling due to the geography of the new conferences. Texas A&M illustrates this example perfectly. Its two closest Big 12 opponents are Baylor [92 miles] and Texas [105 miles]. Its two closest SEC opponents next year will be LSU [337 miles] and Arkansas [505 miles].

Unfortunately for the student athletes at these schools, conference realignment may mean more travel time, tougher opponents, and possibly losing seasons in the immediate future. However, these schools will be much more successful financially, and fans can only hope that their teams will use their additional resources to improve their facilities, recruit better athletes, and compete more challenging opponents.

Rumors will continue to circulate about these topics on ESPN and Twitter every day. Eventually these schools will make the decision that will impact the future of their athletic program forever. But for now, all we can do is wait as the conference realignment madness continues.

Steve Goldberg is a freshman sports journalist at the University of Missouri. You can follow him on Twitter @SG_Mizzou15 or find him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bostonfan93.

18 September 2011

Season Stats

Franklin, Josey, Moe lead offensive categories through three games
by Mizzou Matt 9/18/11
The 2011 season is just three games old, so here is a look at how the Tigers are tracking in their statistics:

James Franklin - 147.42 EFF, 61/93, 694 yds, 65.6% comp, 7.46 ypt, 6 TD, 1 INT, 49 long, 231.3 avg/game
Jimmy Costello - 559.00 EFF, 2/2, 70 yds, 100% comp, 35.00 ypt, 1 TD, 0 INT, 54 long, 35.0 avg/game
TOTAL - 156.08 EFF, 63/95, 764 yds, 66.3% comp, 7 TD, 1 INT, 54 long, 254.7 avg/game

Henry Josey - 29 car, 400 yds, 13.8 avg, 68 long, 3 TD
James Franklin - 47 car, 157 yds, 3.3 avg, 22 long, 2 TD
Jared Culver - 11 car, 86 yds, 7.8 avg, 60 long, 1 TD
Greg White - 10 car, 36 yds, 3.6 avg, 17 long, 0 TD
Jimmy Costello - 8 car, 29 yds, 3.6 avg, 10 long, 0 TD
De'Vion Moore - 7 car, 27 yds, 3.9 avg, 10 long, 0 TD
T.J. Moe - 2 car, 14 yds, 7.0 avg, 11 long, 0 TD
Kendial Lawrence - 9 car, 10 yds, 1.1 avg, 7 long, 0 TD
L'Damian Washington - 2 car, 10 yds, 5.0 avg, 8 long, 0 TD
Ashton Glaser - 2 car, 3 yds, 1.5 avg, 2 long, 0 TD
Daniel Carpenter - 1 car, 0 yds, 0.0 avg, 0 long, 0 TD
TOTALS - 128 car, 772 yds, 6.0 avg, 68 long, 6 TD

T.J. Moe - 16 rec, 172 yards, 10.8 average, 30 long, 1 TD
Marcus Lucas - 7 rec, 121 yds, 17.3 avg, 49 long, 1 TD
Wes Kemp - 10 rec, 114 yds, 11.4 avg, 37 long, 2 TD
L'Damian Washington - 7 rec, 104 yds, 14.9 avg, 30 long, 1 TD
Michael Egnew - 6 rec, 57 yds, 9.5 avg, 18 long, 1 TD
Jimmie Hunt - 1 rec, 54 yds, 54.0 avg, 54 long, 1 TD
Henry Josey - 4 rec, 53 yds, 13.3 avg, 36 long, 0 TD
De'Vion Moore - 2 rec, 17 yds, 8.5 avg, 15 long, 0 TD
Brandon Gerau - 2 rec, 16 yds, 8.0 avg, 15 long, 0 TD
Rolandis Woodland - 1 rec, 16 yds, 16.0 avg, 16 long, 0 TD
Greg White - 1 rec, 13 yds, 13.0 avg, 13 long, 0 TD
Bud Sasser - 2 rec, 10 yds, 5.0 avg, 8 long, 0 TD
Jared Culver - 1 rec, 8 yds, 8.0 avg, 8 long, 0 TD
Eric Waters - 1 rec, 4 yds, 4.0 avg, 4 long, 0 TD
Jerrell Jackson - 1 rec, 3 yds, 3.0 avg, 3 long, 0 TD
Kendial Lawrence - 1 rec, 2 yds, 2.0 avg, 2 long, 0 TD
TOTAL - 63 rec, 764 yds, 12.1 avg, 54 long, 7 TD

Grant Ressel - 14/14 XP, 100% XP, 6/8 FG, 75.0 % FG, 47 long
TOTAL - 14/14 XP, 100 % XP, 6/8 FG, 75.0% FG, 47 long

Andrew Wilson - 21 T, 11 ST, 10 AT, 3 TFL
Luke Lambert - 17 T, 12 ST, 5 AT, 1.5 TFL
Zavier Gooden - 14 T, 12 ST, 2 AT, 1 TFL, 1 SK, 1 BK
Dominique Hamilton - 13 T, 5 ST, 8 AT, 1 FR
E.J. Gaines - 13 T, 9 ST, 4 AT, 1 INT, 1 PBR
Terrel Resonno - 10 T, 4 ST, 6 AT
Kenji Jackson - 10 T, 8 ST, 2 AT, 1 PBR
Trey Hobson - 10 T, 10 ST, 2 TFL, 2 PBR
Brad Madison - 8 T, 5 ST, 3 AT, 5 TFL, 3 SK, 1 FF
Brayden Burnett - 8 T, 6 ST, 2 AT, 3 TFL, 2.5 SK, 1 FF
Tony Randolph - 7 T, 4 ST, 3 AT
Matt White - 7 T, 4 ST, 3 AT, 0.5 TFL, 3 PBR
Michael Sam - 5 T, 1 ST, 4 AT
Kenronte Walker - 5 T, 2 ST, 3 AT, 1 FR
Braylon Webb - 5 T, 3 ST, 2 AT
Robert Steeples - 5 T, 1 ST, 4 AT, 1 INT
Randy Ponder - 4 T, 4 ST
Lucas Vincent - 4 T, 2 ST, 4 AT, 1.5 TFL
Sheldon Richardson - 4 T, 1 ST, 3 AT, 2 TFL, 0.5 SK
Will Ebner - 3 T, 1 ST, 2 AT
Kip Edwards - 3 T, 3 ST
Xavier Smith - 3 T, 3 ST
Marvin Foster - 3 T, 1 ST, 2 AT
Daniel Easterly - 2 T, 2 AT
Darvin Ruise - 2 T, 2 AT
Jaleel Clark - 2 T, 1 ST, 1 AT
Kony Ealy - 2 T, 1 ST, 1 AT, 0.5 TFL
Jacquies Smith - 2 T, 2 ST
Grant Ressel - 2 T, 1 ST, 1 AT
Matt Hoch - 2 T, 1 ST, 1 AT, 1 TFL, 1 SK
Donovan Bonner - 1 T, 1 ST
Jimmy Burge - 1 T, 1 ST
Jared Culver - 1 T, 1 ST
Beau Brinkley - 1 T, 1 ST
Trey Barrow - 1 T, 1 ST
T.J. Moe - 1 T, 1 ST
TOTAL - 202 T, 124 ST, 78 AT, 21 TFL, 8 SK, 2 INT, 7 PBR, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 BK, 0 S

Trey Barrow - 12 P, 582 yds, 48.5 avg, 73 long, 1 FC, 2 TB, 5 I-20
Christian Brinser - 1 P, 47 yds, 47.0 avg, 47 long, 0 FC, 0 TB, 0 I-20
TOTAL - 13 P, 629 yds, 48.4 avg, 73 long, 1 FC, 2 TB, 5 I-20

Grant Ressel - 16 KO, 1012 yds, 63.2 avg, 2 TB, 0 OB
Trey Barrow - 7 KO, 416 yds, 59.4 avg, 0 TB, 0 OB
TOTAL - 23 KO, 1428 yds, 62.1 avg, 2 TB, 0 OB, 412 rtn, 42.4 net/avg, 27 op/l

TD- Touchdown
XP- Extra Point
FG- Field Goal
INT- Interceptions
YDS- Yards
REC- Receptions
CAR- Carries
EFF- QB Efficiency
COMP- Completion Percentage
AVG- Average
KO- Kickoffs
P- Punts
TB- Touchback
FC- Fair Catch
OB- Out of Bounds
I-20- Inside 20 Yard Line
RTN- Opponent Return
OP/L- Opponent Return Long
T- Tackle
ST- Solo Tackle
AT- Assisted Tackle
TFL- Tackle For Loss
SK- Sacks
FF- Forced Fumble
FR- Fumble Recover
BK- Blocked Kick
PBR- Pass Breakup
S- Safety

Diving in the Depth Chart

Henry Josey sets career high in 1st Qtr
by Mizzou Matt 9/17/11
COLUMBIA, MO- An official attendance of 63,420 braved temperatures in the 50s, overcast skies and some rain showers for Salute to America day at Faurot Field as the Tigers of Missouri hosted the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. The pregame festivities that were designed to honor those in the military, past and present, were topped off by a B2 stealth bomber flyover courtesy of the 502nd Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base. Both of the pilots of the bomber are graduates of Mizzou ROTC, class of 2004. The fans were also treated to some fireworks on the field as the Tigers ripped apart the Leathernecks and lit up their side of the scoreboard with a 69-0 shellacking.

With the big win, the Tigers took some time to dive in the deep end of their depth chart, and they surfaced with a promising sight- the ability to get yards and points. Just how deep did they go? To the 3rd string and beyond. Third string quarterback Ashton Glaser, fourth string running back Daniel Carpenter and even backup punter Christian Brinser all took snaps late in the 4th quarter. This, after Henry Josey and Jared Culver paved the runway for an aerial attack by James Franklin and backup Jimmy Costello. The Tigers struck first on a 37-yard Franklin pass to a wide open Wes Kemp. They never took time to look back. Powered by 21 points in the 1st quarter and a repeat performance of 21 in the second, the Tigers cruised into halftime up 42-0.

Henry Josey. You'll be hearing his name a lot more as the season progresses, I'm sure of it. Prior to today's game, Josey's career high was 112 yards, set against McNeese State in 2010. Tonight he cut, juked and broke tackles on his way to 129 yards...in the 1st quarter. His day came to a close at halftime, finishing with a game- and career-high 263 yards rushing on 14 attempts and 3 TD. Josey found pay dirt on rushes from 6, 21 and 68 yards out. With Josey sitting out in the second half, Devin West's 319 yards still stands as the most in Tiger history for a single game, set against Kansas in 1998.

Bring in 5'11", 250lb backup Jared Culver, who with De'Vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence being out with injuries, saw some valuable playing time, including a trip to the endzone. Culver rushed 11 times for 86 yards and a score. Going deeper than Culver, the 3rd string RB Greg White rushed 10 times for 36. Quarterback James Franklin, who head coach Gary Pinkel said rushed too much last week (27 attempts at ASU), carried the ball only 6 times, only managing 1 yard of rushing. Backup QB Jimmy Costello added 29 yards, 3rd string QB Ashton Glaser accounted for 3, WR L'Damian Washington tallied 10 and even 4th string RB Daniel Carpenter saw a snap. Big gainers belong to Josey and Culver, who had runs of 68 (TD) and 60 yards, respectively. The Tigers finished with 428 yards rushing.

Franklin passed the ball 25 times, completing 18 for 246 yards and 3 TD. He almost had an interception inside the WIU 10, but thanks to Washington getting physical and wrestling for the ball, he did not. Costello went 2/2 for 70 yards and a TD in relief of Franklin. Costello's touchdown pass in the 4th quarter was the first of his career. Team total: 316 yards passing.

The field generals spread the ball around very well to their wideouts. T.J. Moe led the receiving corps with 68 yards on four grabs and a TD. L'Damian Washington, Jimmie Hunt, Wes Kemp, Marcus Lucas, Henry Josey, Greg White, Bud Sasser, Michael Egnew, Eric Waters, Rolandis Woodland and Jerrell Jackson all finished with at least one reception. Big gainer of the night was Hunt, who reeled off a 54-yard reception from Costello in the 4th quarter. The touchdown was the first of both Costello and Hunt's collegiate careers. Kemp finished with two touchdowns on two receptions for 47 yards.

Total offense: A school record 744 yards. Though its against WIU, that number is still rather impressive. The previous offensive record was 655 yards against Kansas, set in 1949. The 69 points ties the mark set against Kansas in 1969 and breaks the 60-point margin of victory set against Centre (KY) which was set in 1928. The shutout is the Tigers' third over the past 16 games (Colorado 26-0, Iowa State 14-0 in 2010).

Mizzou (2-1) finished the day with 30 first downs compared to WIU's one. That's not a typographical error. The Tigers allowed only ONE first down for the Leathernecks (1-2), due in large part to a veteran defensive squad that gets better week after week. Sheldon Richardson, Brad Madison, Brayden Burnett and reservist Matt Hoch added sacks to their stat sheet. Defensive back Robert Steeples hauled an interception, which was the lone WIU turnover. Punter Trey Barrow, who booted a 73-yard punt last week at Arizona State, punted only once tonight for 37 yards. Backup punter Christian Brinser came in late in the 4th and delivered a nice 47-yard punt of his own. Neither were returned. Grant Ressel, who struggled last week at ASU, regained composure to go 2/2 on field goals with a long of 28 and also went 9/9 on extra points.

There was a moment that made the Tiger Faithful hearts skip a beat- when Moe left the game in the 2nd quarter after trying to return a punt. After fielding the punt, he was quickly wrapped up by the WIU coverage. He tried to twist his way out of the tackle, but in doing so he appeared to have injured his leg. Moe never returned to the game. E.J. Gaines came in to take the punts, returning only one for 44 yards and a TD.

The first drive for Mizzou was a long one, or at least it seemed that way. The drive was only 7 plays (capped off by the 37-yarder to Kemp), but 3 plays found laundry on the field. Mizzou was penalized 9 times for 67 yards, WIU 7 for 52. Most of the Tiger penalties were due to illegal substitutions (breaking the huddle with 12 players). Missouri had 15 drives, scoring on 11. Two lost fumbles deep in Leatherneck territory ended what could've been points on the board.

Next week the Tigers travel to Norman, OK to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Last year, Mizzou knocked off the BCS number 1 Sooners in Columbia, on Homecoming, by the score of 36-27. Oklahoma will certainly have momentum of their own going into the game, as they are coming off a 23-13 road victory tonight against fifth-ranked Florida State.

Around the Big 12:
Kansas, after starting 2-0 this year, fell short (very short) against Georgia Tech today, losing 66-24.
ISU came back to beat 2010 Big East champs UConn 24-20 on Friday.
Texas, who lost to UCLA last year in Austin, sought retribution in the form of a 49-20 win.
Texas Tech knocked off New Mexico 59-13.
Baylor shut out Stephen F. Austin 48-0.
Texas A&M made beating Idaho look easy, winning 37-7.
Kansas State shut out Kent State 37-0.

10 September 2011

Injury Prone

Laden with injuries, Tigers lose in OT
by Mizzou Matt 9/10/11
TEMPE, AZ- "There's something about this Mizzou team this year." I've heard a few fans say that before the season started, and I couldn't agree more. There really is something about this team- we can't seem to stay healthy. Last night in Tempe, Arizona against Arizona State, we had eight (count 'em, 8) players sidelined to injury. Center Travis Ruth (achilles), left tackle Elvis Fisher (knee), linebacker Will Ebner (ankle), defensive end Jacquise Smith (elbow), running back Kendial Lawrence (hamstring) and running back De'Vion Moore (ankle) just to name a few. Jerrell Jackson (hamstring) was dressed, but saw limited playing time. Kip Edwards (hamstring) played his heart out at cornerback. We were playing with injuries, backups and 3rd-string players that rarely see playing time in games with big implications. We still found a way to score. We still found a way to come back. We almost found a way to win.

Now for that proverbial "what-if" scenario. "What if" Mizzou was healthy? "What if" we had our star starters in the game? "What if" instead of our backups, the Sun Devils played our 1st line? Would the outcome have been different? Aside from taking the Delorean back to 1955, then fast forwarding to some alternate reality, we'll have no way of knowing. But still, "what if"?

Our depth chart was tested. If you ask me, they rose to the occasion despite the loss. Our players who last year saw limited playing time got some real game experience. Above all else- they scored and found a way to come back against all odds. Arizona State will walk away from this game bragging that they knocked off a top 25 team. Missouri will walk away from it stating that it was without star players on the field. Both sides will take jabs at one another and in the media, but there is one thing that sticks out.

That one thing is CLASS. This past week, an ASU fan sent the Maneater (a Mizzou-based magazine) an email that would get any Tiger fan's blood pumping. In the email, he said "if you thought the flooding in Joplin was a disaster, wait til Friday!" First of all, we all know it was a tornado that hit Joplin, not flooding. Second of all, this shows the level of class that ASU fans exude. From some Mizzou fans that made the trek to Sun Devil Stadium, they found out that the level of class we all thought ASU had was being gratuitous. Sun Devil fans threatened Tiger fans. They insulted us. "Read the scoreboard, if you can!" After the game, they cussed out the team, fans and even the cheerleaders as the student section yelled out "F--- YOU!" And we thought that Nebraska were the "classiest fans in the world"? ASU took it to a whole new low.

To the Sun Devils- congratulations on the win. You may act like it was a BCS National Championship blowout, but our backups took you to overtime and you only won by seven. Congratulations on beating a team that lost a star defensive end, two cornerbacks and a quarterback to the NFL. Congratulations on beating a team that has been riddled with injuries since before the season even started. Congratulations on joining Nebraska, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio State, South Carolina and Kansas on the elite list of "worst fan base in the NCAA." Your mothers must be very proud.

Overtime Thriller

Mizzou erases 14-pt deficit, loses in OT
by Mizzou Matt 9/10/11
TEMPE, AZ- I said I'd find a way to put a positive spin on this, and by God, I'll sure try. Well, here it goes- We played well, we really did. We showed maturity and ability to erase deficits. We overcame two deficits to tie the game. QB James Franklin performed beyond many pundits' expectations, but it just wasn't enough. We had our chances, we just couldn't cash in on them. Linebacker Zavier Gooden had a blocked extra point, but we couldn't capitalize to take the lead.

Mizzou held the Sun Devils to a missed field goal on their first drive, and Mizzou punted on theirs. It was ASU that struck first on their second drive of the game. Mizzou struck back with a field goal by Grant Ressel. A field goal and touchdown by Arizona State, but a touchdown and blocked extra point by Mizzou kept the Tigers in the game. A missed 54-yard field goal led to halftime with a 16-10 ASU lead.

Franklin, who rushed for a 2-yard TD and passed for an additional two, performed better than many thought he would. Mizzou, the underdogs in tonight's match up, never led against the Sun Devils. The Tigers had chances to take the lead, if not win. Mizzou came back to tie, twice, erasing deficits as much as 14 points. Franklin found L'Damian Washington after a pass interference for 25 yards and also found TE Michael Egnew on 4th down for TDs. Grant Ressel, who only missed two all last season, missed two tonight. One would prove to be the costly statistic.

Franklin finished with 84 yards rushing and a TD, 319 yards passing and 2 TD. Ressel finished 3/5 with a long of 47.  James' longest pass of the night was 49 yards. Only a couple of passes went beyond the sticks, as conservative play calling by offensive coordinator David Yost dictated Missouri's play.

But what about the clock management/play calling by the coaching staff? Ressel hit from 19 yards, but only after Mizzou went three plays inside the five yard line in the shotgun formation. This should come to no surprise for Tiger fans. Yost is notorious for running the shotgun, even in short yardage situations. Mizzou had a chance to take the lead with under :20 seconds to play in the game, but thanks to two, yes, 2 timeouts, we iced our own kicker. Ressel had the opportunity to connect from 47 yards, but head coach Gary Pinkel called two timeouts, back-to-back, at the end of the game, which, in a sense, iced our own kicker. Usually it's the opposing team that calls the timeouts to get the kicker thinking about the kick. Why Pinkel called two, nobody knows. Ressel missed the 47-yard attempt.

Cue overtime. Score tied at 30. ASU QB Brock Osweiler (who the announcers made sure to point out that is the tallest QB in FBS), found Jamal Miles for an 11-yard score. Mizzou had no answer. Two rush plays and two incomplete passes doomed Mizzou, as the Tigers went for only a gain of five on four plays in overtime.

The positives I was talking about? Mizzou showed maturity. They only scored 17 last week against MAC foe Miami (OH). This week, they posted 30. Yes, they lost, but they showed ability to come back under the sophomore Franklin. A negative- (as I predicted before the season started) the secondary showed susceptibility. The long pass really played havoc as Osweiler found WR Aaron Pflugrad for a 60-yard score. Positive- Mizzou showed ability to rush as Henry Josey ripped off 94 and Franklin was able to rush for 84. A negative- we lost De'Vion Moore to an ankle injury. Return is uncertain as of right now.

"We started off practice with five running backs. Now, we're down to one," said Pinkel. [Personal opinion thrown in here] I fully expect Franklin to be the leading rusher as Lawrence (leg), Moore (ankle), and Murphy (shoulder) are all down with injuries. How long Lawrence and Moore will be out is unknown. Josey is the only true running back remaining who is healthy, and his performance tonight was described by ESPN announcers as "the ability to hit the home run."

On the realistic note: As stated before, Franklin performed better than many expected him to, but it wasn't enough. A last-ditch effort on 4th down in overtime ended Mizzou's chance for the complete comeback. Franklin showed promise as he started off an impressive 7/7, but his final pass which was intended for T.J. Moe fell incomplete as Arizona State (2-0, 0-0 PAC 12), which entered the game just outside the AP Top 25 at 26th, walks away with the overtime win.

Mizzou (1-1, 0-0 Big 12), who suffered their first loss of the season, returns home to take on Western Illinois on September 17th.

07 September 2011

Marching Mizzou

If you don't know the words already, here are the words to Mizzou's Alma Mater 'Old Missouri', the fight song 'Every True Son/Fight Tigers' and 'Give a Cheer for Mizzou's Tigers.'


Alma mater

First Verse
Old Missouri, fair Missouri
Dear old varsity.
Ours are hearts that fondly love thee
Here's a health to thee.
Proud art thou in classic beauty
Of thy noble past
With thy watch words honour, duty,
Thy high fame shall last!
Second verse
Every student, man and maiden
Swells the glad refrain.
'Till the breezes, music laden
Waft it back again.
Proud art thou in classic beauty
Of thy noble past
With thy watch words honour, duty,
Thy high fame shall last!


Every True Son

Every true son, so happy hearted
Skies above us are blue.
There's a spirit so deep within us
Old Missouri, here's to you! (Rah! Rah!)
When the band plays the Tiger war song
And when the fray is through
We will tramp, tramp, tramp around the columns
With a cheer for old Mizzou!

Mizzou Cheer

Hit it!
Hooray! Hurrah! Mizzou! Mizzou!
Hooray! Hurrah! Mizzou! Mizzou!
Hooray! Hurrah! And a Bully for Ol' Mizzou!
Rah rah rah rah!
Mizzou-Rah! Mizzou-Rah! Mizzou-Rah! Tigers!

Fight Tiger

Fight, Tiger, fight for Old Mizzou.
Right behind you everyone is with you.
Break the line and follow down the field.
And you'll be, on the top, upon the top!
Fight, Tiger, you will always win.
Proudly keep the colors flying skyward.
In the end you'll win the victory,
So, Tigers, fight for Old Mizzou!


Give a Cheer

Give a cheer for Mizzou's Tigers!
We will show 'em how to play.
Give a cheer for Mizzou's Tigers!
And our Tigers will win today.
We've got the team that will never retreat;
We've got the team they can never defeat!
Give a cheer for Mizzou's Tigers!
And our Tigers will win today!
Give a cheer for Mizzou's Tigers!
And our Tigers will win today!

06 September 2011

Weekend Review, Week Preview

Big three-win weekend for Mizzou, a look ahead
by Mizzou Matt 9/6/11
COLUMBIA- Looking back at the weekend, there were ups and downs and a few first downs to be had. Mizzou won in three different sports. Football notched their first win of 2011 when they defeated Miami of Ohio 17-6, soccer beat Texas Christian 2-0 for their fifth win of the season, and volleyball won to improve to 7-1 on the year.

Looking ahead, football travels to Tempe, AZ for their Friday night prime time match-up with Arizona State. Game time is set for 9:30p/CT on ESPN. This is the first visit to Sun Devil Stadium since their 27-24 loss to Iowa in the Insight.com Bowl. Soccer also travels to Tempe for the Sun Devil Invitational where they'll take on the Arizona Wildcats on Friday night and the Sun Devils on Sunday afternoon. Game times are 6:30p/CT Friday and 3:30p/CT on Sunday.

FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Arizona State defeated UC Davis on September 1st in their season opener, 48-14. Quarterback Brock Osweiler went 19/26 for 262 yards, 2 TD and an interception before leaving with cramps in the 3rd quarter. ASU passed for 300 yards as a team. Team rushing against UC Davis was 217 yards and 3 TD. ASU's Jamal Miles returned the opening kick of the second half 98 yards for a TD and the kicker, Alex Garoutte, added two field goals as the Sun Devils racked up 517 yards of total offense. By comparison, Mizzou gained 291 yards of total offense against the RedHawks while our defense surrendered 270. James Franklin accounted for 201 of Mizzou's 291 offensive yards. The Tigers will also be without senior linebacker Will Ebner (ankle) and defensive end Jacquise Smith (elbow) for Friday's match-up.

03 September 2011

NCAA Football Kicks Off

Mizzou wins, other NCAA scores
by Mizzou Matt 9/3/11
T.J. Moe and the team at the first Tiger Walk of 2011.
COLUMBIA- It's been a long nine months. We had a little snippet in April for the Black & Gold Game, but it wasn't enough to quench the thirst for NCAA football. That thirst was quenched today, no matter how sour the taste.

The University of Missouri Tigers kicked off their 2011 campaign with the RedHawks of Miami (OH) coming to Faurot Field. In last year's meeting, Mizzou rolled to an easy 51-13 win in the fourth game of the season. This year, in the first true home opener since 2006, the going was much more difficult. A win is a win, and that's exactly what the Tigers got over the 2010 Mid American Conference champions, notching a 17-6 victory on a hot September day.

James Franklin made his debut at quarterback after Blaine Gabbert departed for the NFL last season, and overall had a decent day. If you ask him, he'd tell you it needs improvement. "I think I failed this test today," said Franklin. "Eh, around a D. I give it a C-minus, being positive." The reason for the low rating? 17/26 for 129 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Welcome to being a starter in the NCAA, kid. James also rushed 14 times for 72 yards and one touchdown. Grant Ressel added the additional points, going perfect on the day- 1/1 from 38 yards and 2/2 on PATs. Miami sophomore kicker Mason Krysinski missed a 41-yard attempt at points, then later missed a PAT after a Miami touchdown. It was Krysinski's first game.
"We moved the ball well. We just have to finish, have to score." said RedHawk quarterback Zack Dysert.

Even with some susceptibility in the secondary, the Tigers' D came up with key stops when they had to. "We played solid overall," Brad Madison said. "We made a lot of good stops and it was a satisfactory performance." Cornerback E.J. Gaines nabbed his first interception of the season, picking off Dysert in the endzone to kill Miami's 67-yard drive late in the 2nd quarter.

Franklin was picked off by Miami's Dayonne Nunley in the 3rd quarter, eventually leading to the RedHawks' lone touchdown. "You grow from adversity," Pinkel said. "You don't like going through it, but you grow from it."

The punters saw plenty of action. Mizzou's Trey Barrow punted seven times for a total of 313 (average of 44.7), two touchbacks, three inside the 20 and two inside the 10. Cornerback Trey Hobson downed a Barrow punt at the 1-yard line. The Moberly High School alum also netted a long of 57-yards. Miami's Zac Murphy punted five times for 175 with a long of 46 and one inside the 20.

DE Jaquise Smith helped off the field after dislocating his elbow.
The victory came with a cost for both teams. Miami center JoJo Williams went down with a mild concussion in the second half. Wide receiver Jerrell Jackson was an injured scratch for the game. Marcus Lucas was filling in for Jackson, and he grabbed his first-career NCAA touchdown in the 4th quarter on a 10-yard pass from Franklin. Linebacker Will Ebner went out in the first quarter with a high left ankle sprain, and DE Jaquise Smith left the game in the fourth quarter with a dislocated elbow. Ebner is expected to miss up to a month while Smith is expected to return for the W. Illinois game in two weeks. The injuries add to the list Tiger woes, which includes veteran left tackle, Elvis Fisher (knee).

Leading stats for the game:
  • James Franklin- 17/26, 129 yds, TD, INT
  • Zack Dysert- 26/39, 194 yds, INT
  • James Franklin- 14 for 72 yds, TD
  • Erik Finklea- 19 for 71 yds, TD
  • T.J. Moe- 6 for 56 yds
  • Chris Givens- 7 for 71 yds
  • E.J. Gaines (interception)
  • Dominique Hamilton (fumble recovery)
  • Dayonne Nunley (interception)
The Tigers travel to Tempe, AZ to take on the Sun Devils of Arizona State in a Friday night match up to be aired on ESPN Prime Time. Game time is set for 9:30p/CT.

In other games from around the NCAA:
South Florida upset 16th-ranked Notre Dame 23-20.
Baylor scored a game-winning field goal to upset 14th-ranked TCU 50-48 on Friday.
Michigan's opener was delayed and later called on a count of weather, sealing a 34-10 win over W. Michigan.
Defending National Champ Auburn avoided the upset, scoring 14 points in the last 2:08 to get past Utah State 42-38.
Missouri State fell to Arkansas 51-13.
Alabama over Kent State, 48-7.
Nebraska over Chattanooga, 40-7.
Ohio State over Akron, 48-0.
UL-Monroe blanked by Florida State 34-0.
Stanford all over San Jose State, 57-3.
Virginia Tech rolls 66-13 over Appalachian State.
Southern Cal avoids the upset by Minnesota, winning by two, 19-17.

In other Mizzou news, Mizzou soccer defeated Northern Arizona on Friday 3-0 to improve to 4-1 on the season.

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