10 September 2011

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.

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