Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mizzou Sanity Roundtable: Week 1 in Review

1) What was the most impressive thing about your team's performance on Saturday?

2) Least impressive?

3) Predictions for your team's game this Saturday.

(Obviously I say 'your team' because we don't all root for Mizzou here.)

ZouDave: Most impressive - Jeremy Maclin. First game of his college career and he gets a receiving TD, punt return TD, and a huge run on a reverse. And now he gets to become a go-to guy for the team as he steps up to replace Danario Alexander. He may have set the bar too high for himself, but man what an opening performance. Maybe in 4 years we'll be remembering this 2007 Illinois game as Maclin's "Coming Out Party" much like 2002 was for Brad Smith.

Least impressive - the running game. I know Illinois is a good team and all but for crying out loud, we return a 1000-yard rusher from a year ago with almost the same offensive line and this is what we get out of our running game? That's part of the reason we couldn't keep this game out of reach when we got the ball back up 37-20 in the 3rd. Strong doses of Tony Temple should have been all that was necessary to make it into a snoozer, but instead we're trying to get cute with reverses or still relying on the pass when their defense basically has nothing to lose.

Prediction for Saturday - Missouri starts to get better, faces a team not quite as physical and takes the gun off of our own foot. Chase Daniel keeps doing what he's doing, which is throwing TDs and not getting intercepted, Temple and the O-Line make a bit of statement with a 100-yard day from him and the defense isn't put in a position to defend short fields quite as often. And there are no 2-point conversion attempts in the game. Mizzou 44, Ole Miss 17.

The Beef: Most Impressive: I will go with Pig Brown. Pig made a few big plays last year, but obviously nothing quite like this. He certainly will not repeat that performance in each game, but it should certainly scare some people into going away from him, and any time people game plan to go away from someone on your defense, I think that is a good thing. One small side-mention to the INITIAL defensive game plan as being impressive….Ill did next to nothing on offense before the injury and quarterback replacement.

Least Impressive: The offensive line. I do not put Temple’s bad output so much on Temple himself, but on the line’s inability to deal with the stunting and shifting Ill threw at them. A mediocre performance all the way around (I will not say poor since we did amass 400+ total yards on offense).

Prediction for Saturday: I think Dave really said it all. I looked at the Ole Miss stats and some news from it, and I come away not impressed…it was not a TRUE road win as I am sure they had half the crowd in Memphis and their offense is pretty non-existent at this point. We do need some more pressure on the QB, since I do not believe Adams is all the mobile, but we should REALLY stack the box against them and force them to beat us on the pass. Everything else Dave said is pretty much what I would say…and I will have some more LIVE-IN PERSON ON THE SCENE THOUGHTS about it next week (was that enough rubbing it in the face of everyone else that I am going to the game?)
Doug: 1) Kansas turned in a team effort Saturday against Central Michigan, and that was by far the most impressive thing about the game. Normally you might expect a few gaffes, mistakes and errors that come with the first game of the season, not to mention a new starting quarterback and running backs. Instead, KU turned in a fantastic performance, highlighted by Todd Reesing throwing for 261 yards and 4 touchdowns, Brandon McAnderson running roughshod over the Chippewas for 110 yards ( in the first half), and 10 Jayhawks catching passes. The defense was just as stellar, allowing only 139 rushing yards total and no Chippewa broke 50 individually. Plus, quarterback Dan LaFevour threw for only 172 yards and a late-game touchdown while being sacked twice.

This was a game people expected Kansas to win, but it was supposed to be closer. CMU was coming off a MAC title and a Motor City Bowl victory. Kansas was supposed to be adjusting to a new quarterback and life without Jon Cornish. To put up this decisive of a victory should give Kansas fans hope for the coming weeks.

2) Raimond Pendleton who did everything right in his punt return for a touchdown, right up until the five yard line when he decided to go air-born into the end zone and wound up getting flagged 15 yards for un-sportsman-like conduct. And, oh yes, left us with
this photo. What the hell is that?

3) After Saturday's performance, this week's game against D-IAA opponent Southeast Louisiana would seem to be a quintessential trap game. Except for one thing, the Michigan Wolverines... thanks, guys! Fair to say, I don't think any D-I school will take any other D-IAA school lightly the rest of the season.

Kansas 42 SE Louisiana 3

Michael Atchison: 1) What was the most impressive thing about your team's performance on Saturday? Their sense of drama. Overall, it was such a scattershot effort that it’s hard to point to anything the team did consistently well. But the sheer number of spectacular moments (both good and bad) was hard to fathom. Maclin’s two scores. Daniel’s quick recovery after being knocked looney tunes. The adventures in kicking. And, of course, Pig Brown. Quick, name another defensive player who has had such a dramatic hand in the outcome of a game as Brown did. Time’s up.

2) Least impressive? The run-blocking disaster has been mentioned by others, so I’ll say the offense’s inability to finish drives. For as much as the offense moved the ball, they really only accounted for twenty-four points. Too many drives disintegrated once they reached Illinois territory, and the offense went the last twenty-seven minutes of the game without putting the ball in the end zone.

And can I beat a dead horse here for a minute? Gary Pinkel is a smart guy who knows more about football than I ever will, but I’m still completely incredulous about the two-point try, even after he acknowledged that it was a mistake. He has allowed “the chart” to become a proxy for rational thought. Even consulting “the chart” in the first half of a close game is an abdication of reason that ignores the context of the game. A basketball team would never try a desperation three-pointer because they trailed 30-27 with two minutes left in the first half; the score is going to change too much and in too many unpredictable ways. Football is no different. Here’s my suggestion: Burn the chart, and keep in mind a few simple rules. Don’t think about the two-point conversion until there are less than ten minutes left in the game. If you’re behind, and scoring two points would cut the lead to eleven, eight, seven or three points, do it. If it would tie the score, do it. If it would increase your lead to seven points, do it. Otherwise, forget it.

3) Predictions for your team's game this Saturday. I think the offense puts together a more consistent performance, and I think the defense does enough. Missouri 38, Ole Miss 24.
The Beef: Well damn...that might be the fastest we have ever or will ever go around the table...under 2 hours…even though doug did not answer ANY of his questions correctly.
The Boy: Seriously...well that case, here's another question:

4) Most and least impressive thing about some other Big 12 team from last weekend?

Oh, and here are my answers to #1-3...

1) I'm going to say the defensive playmaking. Yards allowed were, to put it gently, a bit of a problem. A lot of that had to do with the strange advantage they drew from the fact that nobody could have scouted Eddie McGee (he was a complete unknown, a la Brad Smith in 2002), and a lot was due simply to lapses, but when it was time to make a play, the defense continuously came through, from Weatherspoon's strip of McGee at the 2 (which led to Pig Brown's TD), to William Moore's gorgeous diving INT midway through the 4th quarter, to Brown's game-clinching INT with a minute left. And beyond that, as has been pointed out before, the scouting report on Juice Williams was good. I do think this defense has a decent amount of potential, though they don't have too terribly long to prove me right on that one.

2) Going last has its drawbacks--I was going to say either the O-line or the two-point conversion. So instead I'll just mention that Will Franklin didn't have a very good game, and with Danario Alexander out for the forseeable future ( please let him be back for Nebraska), he'll need to become the go-to guy once again to keep the pressure off of Jeremy Maclin.

3) It won't surprise me if Ole Miss does try to replicate what Illinois did to us schematically, but they just don't have the speed of the Illini. And if 425 yards was a failure, then...well...Ole Miss is going to need some turnovers and freak plays to keep up. And hopefully the fact that there were about 26 freakish plays (for and against Mizzou) last Saturday, this one will be a little more tame. Mizzou 34, Ole Miss 17.
The Beef: Most impressive thing I saw (and I did not SEE any of it) was probably the OU thing….not so much because of the final score, or even the fact that OU has a good amount of YOUNG skill position players on offense, but that they did it with their foot off of the gas for most of the 4th…as I believe that last TD came pretty early. kU is in there as well…though I think their true test will come in conference play given their OOC)

Least impressive would have to be UT I suppose…again…on score only. Big spreads were not locks this weekend (as USC came nowhere near hitting theirs) and I assume UT is not that bad…but it was still interesting to see. Okie State was pretty unimpressive as well given where a lot of people had them, though I personally did not understand some of the hype.
ZouDave: Most Impressive - Well, I would say ku laying a beating on Central Michigan but I'm simply never going to be nice to ku, so I'll actually go ahead and say Kansas State's defense. Seriously, they looked fast, aggressive, mean and talented. They're going to be one of the best defenses in the conference this year and that will help their offense more often than not. KSU might be the polar opposite of Missouri this year. That remains to be seen for sure, obviously, but looking at a single game you had one struggle to win with their offense doing most of the work and one struggling to lose with their defense doing most of the work. I was very impressed with KSU's defense.

Least Impressive - Iowa State. They lost to Kent State, for crying out loud. The only way it gets worse is if Michigan is in our conference, which they're not.
Doug: 4) Oklahoma proved they would not miss a beat when it came to breaking in a new quarterback and running back. Even beating up on a DI floormat like they did to North Texas becomes incredibly impressive when they do it to such a magnitude. Seriously, best of luck Todd Dodge.

Also impressive, Colorado finally winning the CSU rivalry game, if anything that buys Dan Hawkins so good will ... Kansas State hanging with Auburn for three quarters (though to be fair, I think that had more to do with Auburn horrific offensive play-calling) ... Kansas' new uniforms, I'll admit I wasn't sold initially, but now seeing them in action, they are quite impressive looking, now if they would just stick around for a couple of seasons.

Least impressive goes to the Texas Longhorns who should have had a much easier time with Arkansas State. I'm sure Mack Brown will get the kinks ironed out, but that's the kind of performance you do not expect from Texas.

Also on the "not impressive" list... K-State's forgetting that a football game last four quarters ... Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, yeah ... that chart in Gary Pinkel's back pocket

Michael Atchison: The only other Big 12 action I saw at all this weekend was the second half of the Kansas State-Auburn game, and I was impressed by how poised K-State looked in that environment. They stood toe to toe with Auburn like they expected to win, and they easily could have. The least impressive (strictly statistically speaking) had to be Sam Keller, who (despite the predictions of the faithful) failed to establish any of Nebraska’s career passing records in the win over Nevada. He’s on pace to be a poor man’s Harrison Beck.
The Boy: I more or less answered my own question yesterday, so I'll simply add this: since Marlon Lucky is obviously going to win Heisman #1 this year (followed by, presumably, #2 in 2008), do you think they'll give Sam Keller another couple years of eligibility so he can win the award that is so rightfully his in 2009? Or...can they maybe award Co-Heismans?