Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mizzou-Nebraska Redux: 1997 (Part Four)

November 10, 1997

It has been so long since the Missouri Tigers were nationally ranked, the last time they were included in the poll it was called the Top 20.

That was 1983 when Missouri was rated No. 19 for one week in late November, but lost to Kansas to fall out of the poll.

Yesterday, the Tigers (6-4) marked their return by entering the AP poll at No. 25 after their 45-38 overtime loss to unbeaten Nebraska.

“That's good. You salvage something out of a loss and very rarely do you see a 6-4 team being ranked,” MU coach Larry Smith said. “I don't know if that was a sentimental vote or what, but I think that's good for our players.”

Missouri, one of five Big 12 teams in the Top 25, is the only ranked team with four losses. But three of the MU defeats have come against top 10 teams.


Game of the century

Have we ever seen a better one?

I've watched football in MU stadiums for 45 years, and, without doubt, Saturday's game between our Tigers and the Huskers of Nebraska was the best.

How could a football game anywhere, any time, be any better?

It could not have been closer. Nebraska tied the game with no time on the clock and went on to win in overtime. There were few penalties and few errors on either team. Despite growing tension and excitement on the field, good sportsmanship prevailed. Every time one team would get ahead, the other would come raging back. It was like a heavyweight bout in which both fighters keep slugging right to the end.

Nobody really lost that game Saturday.

What a scene at Faurot Field! More than 65,000 people jammed the stadium. Everyone stood up almost the entire time. The continual level of excitement was unbelievable.

It's hard to overestimate the boost this game gave Missouri's football program and coach Larry Smith. It would have been even better if the Tigers had done the impossible by winning, but this kind of loss is hardly less impressive. Our players and coaches could not have made us more proud.

What a confidence builder for the young men. These players know they can beat any team in the nation on a given day, a far cry from the defeatist attitude they and their ancestors had developed over the past 10 years. This moment represents about as conclusive a turnaround as a sports program can have.

I know, it's only a football game, not the most momentous happening in the world that day, nor even in Columbia, where surely issues of life or death were played out. But we should be glad a mere entertainment event can transform us. Football Saturday permeates the whole community. Anyone, everyone, can join in. We can get back to the heavy stuff tomorrow.

We haven't seen a football weekend like this for 20 years. If our team remains competitive, the infection will live again, but at what level?

Football mania is a disease we thought had disappeared, but it only turned out to be dormant. We went crazy again in an instant. Most citizens hereabouts -- and the managers of Harpo's -- hope our fits of temporary insanity become chronic again.

But we're a fickle lot. No doubt, we'll expect too much. We'll be ready to snarl and hiss the first time our team seems to let us down. When that negative urge moves us, let's remember Saturday.



November 10, 1997

If you were at Faurot Field, if you own a television, if you subscribe to a newspaper, you already know what happened.

So who we are basically ruling out here are Mir astronauts and those currently holed up in militia compounds.

The rest of us can expect to be reminded that Nebraska went and ruined a perfectly good upset of the decade. Scott Frost to Shevin Wiggins, to Wiggins' foot, to ... oh, you know the rest. How could you not?

The task for the 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers (6-4 overall, 4-3 Big 12) is to somehow put Saturday's 45-38 loss to the undefeated Cornhuskers behind and mount enough emotion to dispose of Baylor (2-7, 1-5) in the regular season finale at Faurot Field.

It will be the mother of anticlimaxes, and that naturally worries MU coach Larry Smith.

“Players put everything on the field. There's nothing left in the team in that locker room,” Smith said after the loss. “It's total devastation. Our biggest job now is to bounce back.”

The Tigers were not in the mood for talk of moral victories Saturday evening. They had come too close to the real thing.

“It would have just meant the world to win this game,” MU tailback Brock Olivo said. “We're not going to look back and say, `Well, we played a good game. It's a moral victory.' We're looking for the real victory now. I don't believe in moral victories any more.”

That's a sign that these Tigers aren't the cuddly Tigers of the last 13 years. But a bit of perspective please.

Nebraska, the best football team in the nation in the 1990s, needed a fluke play to beat the Tigers. This is the same Nebraska program that routinely swoops down into Missouri every winter and snatches whichever high school players it thinks it can use. Native Missourians Grant Wistrom, Mike Rucker, Steve Warren -- all of them in Nebraska's defensive two-deep chart – and promising running back Dan Alexander are examples.

How many of the current Tigers were wanted by Nebraska? Corby Jones, recent NU transfer David Webber and maybe a handful of others were deemed worthy of a scholarship offer.

Missouri proved on Saturday that its band of slightly irregulars and factory seconds could play with the best. Sports fans across the country noticed. How could they not?

“I think we have some respectability back,” Smith said. “We still have a game, maybe two left. The bottom line is what do we do with where we are. I don't think there's any Missouri fan or player that's ashamed of that game. But it will still be in the record books as a loss, so that's certainly no reprieve or any consolation.

“The big thing is you take that kind of effort and keep that kind of spirit, we can win a lot of football games and have a lot of fun.”



November 10, 1997

After years of waiting for the right moment to pull off the win that would change the direction of a struggling football program, it was a loss that vaulted Missouri into national prominence.

Every football fan in the nation outside of Nebraska left the television set Saturday evening feeling some of the anguish in the Missouri locker room.

It wasn't just losing the moment of glory that comes with a heavy underdog upsetting a No. 1-ranked team, it was the way it was stripped away. With a game-tying Nebraska touchdown coming on a play that would rank among the top five bizarre plays in college football history, spirits sank with the Tigers.

More important than the compassion was the respect Missouri had earned. “Anyone who was watching, they know this team is for real,” quarterback Corby Jones said.

The final score was Nebraska 45, Missouri 38, but the Huskers' reward for victory was a drop of two places from No. 1 to No. 3 in the Top 25. The Tigers, meanwhile, jumped into the last spot in the Top 25 for the first time since 1983.

Head coach Larry Smith has steadfastly refused to be concerned about the value of any national ranking, choosing to emphasize the final ranking “because that's the only one that matters.”

But in order to be there at the end you have to be in position to get there. For Missouri, the only team in the Top 25 with four losses -- three have come against top 10 teams -- being ranked puts it in prime position.

Consider that a win in the season finale against Baylor will keep Missouri in the Top 25 until the bowl games.

Then Missouri is one game away from finishing in the Top 25 at the season's end.

Talk about a quality loss. After a few stinkers in previous television appearances this season, Missouri sent a message that couldn't be overlooked.

The more the Tigers believed in themselves, the more others started to feel the same way. For most of Saturday's game, Missouri hardly looked like the outclassed foe. The only time Missouri showed it was unfamiliar with the situation was on a third-down play late in the game.

The Tigers tried a freeze play, hoping for Nebraska to make a mistake, rather than powering for a first down that would have won the game. Other than that, the Tigers were cool and confident.

A representative of the Alamo Bowl came to Columbia thinking the team was a long shot for the San Antonio postseason game, but left thinking the Tigers would be a hot commodity.

The crowd of 66,846 not only jogged the memories of days gone by at Missouri, but it also put the athletic department's accountants on an overtime schedule. A few more crowds like that and there will be an impact in the department budget.

“Attendance of that size could be the difference between an under-funded program becoming well-funded or at least even funded with the rest of the conference,” Missouri athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Big crowds at football games can do a lot of things.”

Missouri players, overwhelmed by the crowd support, pleaded for the fans to return.

“I hope they don't throw in the towel and give up,” senior captain Brock Olivo said. “I hope they come back, we've got a lot more to get done.”

By Thursday of this week, Missouri players will begin to understand why this is all so important. Despair and disappointment still clouds their thinking.

“There was a time when just scoring on Nebraska would have been fun,” Olivo said. “If you're not ticked off, shoot, you don't belong here.”

Naturally. The opportunity to play the nation's top-ranked team doesn't occur every year. To be leading the No. 1 team in the final minute happens even less frequently.

For that, Missouri players lamented letting a once-in-a-lifetime moment slip away. Reddened eyes was part of the postgame uniform and it wasn't because of the air in the locker room.

Many of the nation's football fans suffered with them.



November 11, 1997

Missouri lost its game against Nebraska on Saturday but won a recruiting battle with the Cornhuskers the following day.

Justin Bland, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman from Chillicothe, who had narrowed his college choices to Missouri and Nebraska, committed to the Tigers on Sunday night.

He said MU's gutsy effort in a 45-38 overtime loss to Nebraska had “a little bit to do with my decision, but not really. I pretty much had my mind made up. I've always liked Missouri. They're my home state. And of course everybody around here wanted me to go to Missouri.”

Bland is the latest in a pipeline of small-town northern Missouri offensive linemen that has produced current Tigers Mike Morris and Todd Niemeyer of Brookfield, Cliff Smith of Chillicothe and Chris Ryan of Milan.

Bland is considered one of the elite offensive line prospects in the nation by Chicago-based recruiting expert Tom Lemming. He has been timed at 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was an all-state selection in football and basketball last year.


November 11, 1997

You wanted it. Now you've got it.

A winning football team. A nationally ranked football team. And crowds of more than 50,000 that fill the hotels, restaurants and roadways of Columbia.

Suddenly late arrivals to the game have no place to park and may be out of luck on their seats. The word “wait” is back in your vocabulary.

It's the price of progress. You waited 13 years, what's a few more minutes.

Hearnes Center executive director Tim Hickman, who supervises the concession sales at Faurot Field, said his people experienced no major catastrophes when 66,846 showed up for the Nebraska game Saturday. He was more than grateful for the recent improvements in Memorial Stadium.

“We have some new features and we had some games to work out the kinks, so I thought things went smoothly,” Hickman said. “But when you have 66,000 there's always going to be a crowd.”

Assistant athletic director Gene McArtor, who is in charge of game management, said the most commonly heard problems involved traffic control and seating arrangements in the general admission section.

McArtor said additional stadium security and ushers were added because of the large crowd. More public safety officers were involved on the public thoroughfares to help move the heavy traffic.

A major complaint was the decision to eliminate of turn lanes off Providence Road to South Hearnes Drive for the first time this season. Many unsuspecting drivers were caught in a time-consuming jam when highway patrol officers closed off the turn lanes.

McArtor said Missouri officials were surprised to hear about the difficulty and had not authorized the plan.

“I can't figure out why that happened,” he said.

Heavy traffic after the game was a problem, but McArtor said the exciting game had something to do with that. “Nobody left until the very end and then everyone tried to leave at once.”

Every Monday after football games, McArtor meets with key support people in administrating the stadium. No real dilemmas arose even though the school hasn't dealt with this volume of fans in 13 years.

“We always have a debriefing to see what problems are there and what we can do to cure those problems,” McArtor said. “That's what we want to do.”

One such problem occured in the south end zone when holders of Family Pack tickets found seating at a premium because much of the end zone had been sold as reserved seats. At previous games, fans could spread out in the end zone, but this time there was no room and the latecomers were in a pinch.

“That was something we had to resolve,” McArtor said.

The $12 million improvements in the stadium turned out to be a profitable blessing Saturday. Expanded concession stands enabled fans to be served quicker. The ability to produce food on site eased the stress on the distribution process.



November 11, 1997

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- The miracle catch wasn't such a miracle after all.

Nebraska's Shevin Wiggins admitted he was trying to keep the football in play by kicking it during the Cornhuskers' 45-38 win at Missouri last weekend.

Teammate Matt Davison made the 12-yard catch of the deflection as time expired Saturday to tie the game at 38 and force overtime.

“I looked down and saw the Missouri guy about the catch it and I just wanted to keep it alive,” Wiggins said. “I ended up kicking it as I was trying to pull it in.”

Frank Gaines, technical advisor to Big 12 football officials, said it's illegal for a receiver to intentionally strike a loose ball with the knee, lower leg or foot.

The penalty is 15 yards and loss of down. In that case, the Cornhuskers would have faced a fourth-down play from the 27-yard line -- if there was any time left.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Here's all I can think of... make sense of what has happened today.

Going into this week, this would have been my Big 12 Defensive Rankings:

1. Oklahoma
2. Kansas State
3. Colorado
4. Texas
5. Kansas
6. Texas A&M
7. Missouri
8. Nebraska
9. Iowa State
10. Oklahoma State
11. Baylor
12. Texas Tech

Colorado won with turnovers and defense. Kansas State is about to win with turnovers and special teams. Going into this season, it was pretty well-established that almost the entire conference was having to rebuild its defensive line, and most teams had general inexperience littered throughout their defense. That being the case, it's starting to look like those who have thrown together some semblance of good defense (like KSU and CU) might have a leg up in a conference full of supposedly strong offenses (which would be bad for Mizzou).

That, or OU and UT were both just seriously looking ahead to next week.

I won't think too hard about this because I know that as soon as I think I've figured everything out, the entire script will change. But for now, go Big 12 North.


Coach Nick Nolte with a huge win...

...OU loses, K-State's up 10 on Texas, and IT'S A NORTH REVIVAL, BABY.

Consider this a North Revival Open Thread...

UPDATE: 5:19pm - Sweet jesus, K-State's about to go up 3 possessions heading into the fourth quarter. I have absolutely no idea what to think about any of the 12 conference teams right now.


Mizzou Links, 9-29-07

I don't usually do Saturday Links, but something happened last night to make me change my mind:

  • #16 Mizzou Soccer 3, #4 Texas A&M 2 (2OT). Down 1-0 and 2-1, the Tigers got two goals from freshman Kari Adam (the first two of her career), and less than a minute away from the end of OT #2 (which would have resulted in a tie), sophomore Kristin Andrighetto--who hit the post twice in the first half--scored her 8th goal of the year and gave coach Bryan Blitz one of the biggest wins of his long tenure in front of the third-largest crowd in Walton Stadium history. In tennis, when you break your opponent's serve, the break isn't complete until you win your own next service game. For the Tigers, they have to travel to Waco to play Baylor tomorrow at 1pm (why it was scheduled like that, I have no idea). A 1-1 result for this weekend's two games would have been quite acceptable, but now that they've taken down ATM, 1-1 would be a bit disappointing. If they do beat BU, then they could honestly expect to move to around #10-12 in the polls. Not bad for a team with no seniors. And not bad for a coach I gave up on about three years ago.
  • The Trib has more.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Mizzou-Nebraska Redux: 1997 (Part Three)

November 9, 1997

What can you say when the greatest victory in your school's history is ripped from your grasp by a fluke play, a lucky bounce, an immaculate reception?

What can you say when you're on the wrong end of a miracle?

“One stinkin' play,” is what Missouri coach Larry Smith said.

No. 1 Nebraska escaped with a 45-38 overtime victory over Missouri yesterday. It might have been the greatest game ever played on Faurot Field, but the Tigers (6-4 overall, 4-3 Big 12) will remember the sourness of the final play of regulation.

“We wanted to shock the world tonight,” MU guard Craig Heimburger said. “But the end of that game shocked us. The thing is we should have won that game. That's all there is to it.”

With the final seconds ticking away, the Cornhuskers (9-0, 6-0) had the ball on Missouri's 12-yard line trailing 38-31. Scott Frost threw a pass to Shevin Wiggins on the goal line, but MU safety Julian Jones knocked the ball free. As Wiggins fell to his back, he kicked the ball out of Harold Piersey's fingertips and it fluttered into the end zone.

Cutting in from the left side of the end zone, Nebraska's Matt Davison dove headlong and snatched the ball just before it hit the turf.

“It was floating like a punt, kind of end over end,” Davison, a freshman, said in reference to the sixth catch of his college career. “It seemed like forever for the ball to get there.”

In the confusion that ensued, MU fans in the north end zone stormed the field, some of them actually climbing on the goal posts to celebrate what they thought was a Missouri victory. They were shooed off the field in time for Kris Brown to send the game into overtime with his extra point.

Although the Tigers were 3-0 in overtime games in the past two seasons, they couldn't recover from the shocking finish to regulation. Frost scored on a 12-yard run to begin the overtime, and Missouri managed only 3 yards on its drive.

On first down, MU quarterback Corby Jones passed up a chance to scramble and threw an incomplete pass. He gained 3 yards on an option keeper on second down. Tight end Jake Stueve let a sure first-down reception slip through his hands on third down. On MU's last chance, Jones was sacked by Grant Wistrom and Mike Rucker -- two native Missourians -- to end the game.

The Missouri portion of the sellout crowd of 66,846 was stunned. The sizable Nebraska portion was euphoric, storming the field to rejoice with the team.

“I'm very proud of our players,” Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. “They showed a lot of poise. It was kind of one of those days where somebody was going to win at the end. We're very fortunate to have won it.”

For the Tigers, a glorious feeling was replaced with emptiness.

“We fought our asses off and came up short,” MU fullback Ron Janes said. “It hurts so bad. We could have had it, should have had it.”

There is no denying that Missouri, which entered the game as a 29-point underdog, made a statement. The Tigers matched every Nebraska score with one of their own, and as the afternoon turned to evening, they had their fans believing that the impossible was possible.

Facing the No. 3 defense in the nation, Jones completed 12 of 20 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 21 times for 60 yards -- stats that would have been much higher if not for five sacks -- and scored a touchdown.

For Nebraska, Ahman Green carried 30 times for 189 yards and a touchdown. Frost rushed 23 times for 141 yards and four touchdowns and completed 11 of 24 passes for 175 yards and two interceptions.

No more than seven points separated the teams at any point.

Executing its play-action passing game to perfection, MU took a 24-21 lead into halftime. The Tigers scored first on an efficient 78-yard drive, with Brock Olivo diving into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. Later Jones hit Torey Coleman with an 18-yard TD pass and connected on a 34-yard scoring strike to Olivo. Scott Knickman kicked a 39-yard field goal.

Meanwhile, Nebraska was chewing up the Missouri defense with its powerful running game, which produced 353 rushing yards. But two Frost mistakes late in the first half hurt the Huskers. Frost threw an interception to MU cornerback Shad Criss and fumbled a shotgun snap in the waning seconds that cost Nebraska a field goal attempt.

Nebraska snuck back into the lead at 28-24 with 3:00 left in the third period, but Missouri responded with Devin West's 62-yard kickoff return. Jones took advantage of the field position and scored on a 6-yard run.

The Huskers tied the game on a Brown field goal with 10:50 left in the game. Missouri answered again after Piersey intercepted a Frost pass and returned it to the Nebraska 30. Jones hit H-back Eddie Brooks in the right side of the end zone with a 15-yard touchdown pass with 4:38 to go.

“We had them, and we just didn't give them the knockout blow,” Jones said.

Missouri could have put the game away with just over a minute left in regulation, but on a third-and-3 play, Jones was stopped on the option. Jason Smith's punt put the Huskers 67 yards from the end zone with only 1:02 left, but that was just enough time for a miracle.

“It's heart-breaking man,” said Olivo, who had 11 carries for 42 yards and two receptions for 45 yards. “To have everything go so well and then a fluke thing like that happens. There's nothing you can do about it.”

Osborne was grateful as he greeted Smith at midfield afterward.

“He said, `We got lucky,' “ Smith said. “He's right, they did.”



November 9, 1997

Jubilation turned to disbelief in a heartbeat yesterday at Faurot Field, when what appeared to be a Missouri win over No. 1-ranked Nebraska turned into a fluke play that led to victory for the Cornhuskers.

The mob that charged the field believing the Tigers had held on to win were driven back to their seats only to watch Nebraska prevail in overtime 45-38. The Tigers were robbed of the victory, and the goal-post snatchers were robbed of their prey.

“I really thought we could win this game,” said Suzie Stallings of Marshall. “We almost did, then the officials gave it away. I swear that ball hit the ground.”

Some fans compared the implausible play to Colorado's infamous “fifth-down” play in 1990, when victory was snatched from the Tigers by a controversial touchdown call on an extra down. Nebraska's unbelievable catch even occurred at the same spot on the field.

One Nebraska fan attributed the miraculous catch to divine intervention on the part of the Cornhusker's revered former coach.

“Bob Devaney was looking over us on that reception,” said Kyle Moyer, who sported a hat with a flashing neon N.

Although the Tigers were technically defeated, the fans were not.

“This loss is not hard to take,” said state Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Ashland. “The team fought their hearts out against a team that was bigger, faster and stronger. I'm proud of our guys.”

Marie Liggett of Columbia saw the game as a moral victory, if not a win.

“See how subdued all the Nebraska fans are around here?” she asked. “They know they've been in a cat fight. We gained some respect with this game.”

Tom VanGoethem, had lofty visions of the future up until the last second. “I saw oranges, and then they went away,” he said. “I think you'll be seeing a lot more people in the stands next year, though. This was really a shot in the arm.”

That winning feeling might be gripping a new generation at MU. Freshman David Salkover said the game ensures the team a bowl bid.

“It's an awesome way to start my freshman year,” Salkover said. “This is beautiful -- this is the way it should always be.”

As homemade signs around the field said, “You gotta believe.”

After the game, many Cornhuskers and Tigers swarmed downtown to relive the afternoon. Shakespeare's was thick with red, gold, beer and pizza.

“We were very scared,” said Kody Hagedorn of Omaha, Neb. “I was praying to the football god, and he answered my prayers. But my hat's off to the Tigers. They played an awesome game.”

Hagedorn said he had been to more than 30 Nebraska games and has never seen them lose. “If you're born and raised in Nebraska, that's the only thing we've got to get excited about. It's tradition,” he said.

Matt Strayhorn of St. Louis called the game the “highest of the highs and lowest of the lows.”

“I thought they were going to win,” he said of Missouri. “They ran for the goal posts, and it was all for nothing. But for us to be even going into overtime and even have a chance to win was amazing.”

Lee Tuveson of St. Louis agreed. “Who would have ever expected we would have done this well against the No. 1 team?” he said. “The atmosphere was tremendous. I can't remember a more exciting game.”

It was worth the several-hour drive, said Krista Keith of Lincoln, who drove with friends from “Big Red country.”

“We wanted to see a good game, but we didn't want it that good,” she said. “If we'd lost, we'd have been in mourning.”



November 9, 1997

The Nebraska defense is used to giving up 38 points, but it usually does so over the course of a month, not a day.

In Missouri's 45-38 overtime loss to the Cornhuskers yesterday, the Tigers did what many observers thought was impossible -- they marched up and down the field against the No. 3 defense in the country.

Guided by the nifty passing and running of Corby Jones, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns and scrambled out of sure sacks numerous times, Missouri pushed Nebraska to the brink of an upset.

“What we did out there was the same thing we had been doing all year,” MU coach Larry Smith said. “Our passing game, we didn't change anything there. It just came down to Corby Jones making plays.”

In the previous three weeks, the Nebraska defense had given up seven points, and that meager total was provided by a garbage-time touchdown by Oklahoma against the Cornhusker reserves.

Missouri matched that total on its first drive -- the kind of 12-play, 78-yard affair that isn't supposed to be possible against the Cornhuskers. It was omen of things to come.

“Playing against a team like this with a defense like this, we were going into it saying: `Jeez, we know we can move the ball, but we've got to prove it to ourselves right off,' “ Jones said. “That's what we did.”

The Tigers, who pounded Colorado into submission with a bruising running game last week, knew it was unwise to go nose to nose with Nebraska. So in the first half, Jones made big plays through the air with touchdown passes to Torey Coleman and Brock Olivo. Jones took advantage of the aggressive Nebraska pass rush by scrambling out of jams.

The virtues of Missouri's balanced offense were apparent. Last year the one-dimensional Tigers were held to 52 yards on the ground and got smoked by the Huskers 51-7. Not so yesterday.

“We never did stop them very well,” NU coach Tom Osborne said. “They have a great offense that we knew would be tough to stop. They can be very explosive.”

In the second half, the Tigers began to wear down the Cornhuskers and turned more to the running game. MU finished with 153 yards on the ground, led by Jones with 60 and Olivo with 42.

Unfortunately for Missouri, Nebraska's defense stiffened when it counted. The Cornhuskers stopped Jones on option play on third-and-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. If MU converted, it could have run out the clock.

And on a fourth-and-7 in overtime, Grant Wistrom and Mike Rucker sandwiched Jones for a sack to end the game.

“We did all that we could, and they did all they could,” Olivo said. “They just happened to score last.”


November 9, 1997

Joel Makovicka.

It's a name you won't hear much about in the reviews of Nebraska's 45-38 overtime squeaker over Missouri.

For the past three weeks Makovicka, a powerful fullback, has been devastating to Nebraska's opponents, ripping through the defenses that were already preoccupied with stopping quarterback Scott Frost and running back Ahman Green. Yesterday he was invisible, gaining just 24 yards.

Credit the Missouri defense.

“Coach Ricky Hunley wanted us to key on the guard and the fullback because he was the guy who can get away and break one at any time,” said linebacker Al Sterling.

“We did that pretty well.”

By taking Makovicka out of the offense, Missouri forced Nebraska to alter its offensive plan, causing some adjustments for Frost.

The Tigers' defense didn't exactly halt the nation's top-ranked offense. Nebraska cleared its total offense average by a few yards, racking up 528 yards -- 353 yards rushing, but the Tigers did enough to make the Huskers earn it the hard way. That was almost good enough for an upset.

Frost ran for four touchdowns and Green gained 189 yards, but even with those totals, it took a passing rampage in the final minute for Nebraska to avert an upset.

Compared to years past when Nebraska took the field against the Tigers and dictated everything, this was a change.

“We told them at halftime, we had them right where we wanted them,” head coach Larry Smith said.

Where they had them was behind and pressing. Nebraska strayed from its grind-it-out mode and started making mistakes.

The Tigers' defense forced three turnovers and turned away the Huskers three times when they moved into the red zone.

Late in the first half, Nebraska moved into Missouri territory hoping to expand on a 21-17 lead. The Huskers tore up big chunks on the ground, but mysteriously opted to pass on first down at the 36.

Frost's overthrown pass was picked off by Shad Criss and returned to Nebraska territory. On the next play, Missouri scored to take the lead.

After an 11-yard punt set up the Huskers at the MU 40 in the final minute of the half, the MU defense forced Frost into some time-consuming plays that failed to produce even a field goal attempt.

“They were supposed to come in and grind us up,” said Sterling, “but we can play with them and we showed you're not going to come in and run over Missouri.”

The big plays by the MU defense proved to be critical for the Tigers' surge into the lead.

An interception by Harold Piersey, his fourth in three games, set up Missouri's touchdown to go ahead 38-31 with four minutes left in the game. A fumble recovery by Steve Erickson, who replaced an injured Brian Cracraft, also stopped a Nebraska drive early in the second half.

The injuries and fatigue factor also played a role as Missouri coaches made defensive adjustments that moved nose tackle Donnell Jones to an outside spot. He recorded a career-high 13 tackles.

But when it came time to force the biggest stop of all, the Tigers defense couldn't come up with the sack or turnover as Frost drove the team 67 yards -- all on passes -- to tie the score on the last play of regulation.

“We played a little bit off during the drive,” said cornerback Shad Criss. “You win some and you lose some.”



Mizzou Links, 9-28-07

  • Hopefully recruits the family atmosphere that has gripped the Mizzou Football locker room, and hopefully they like what they see. "I love you, Tony..." Weird.
  • The Trib has the official story on Gilbert Moye's fight. The matter's being handled internally idea what kind of punishment there will be.
  • Mike Dearmond says 'hola'. Because Mizzou's on siesta. Get it? Funny stuff here from a relatively crazy guy...
  • Graham Watson pulls a Gabe Dearmond and breaks out the mailbag. And just for fun, so does SI's Stewart Mandel. Somehow Texas Tech isn't the most one-dimensional team in the country this year. Louisville has 'em beat in a major way.
  • In case you haven't read enough about it at Mizzou Sanity (and trust me, you've got a couple more days of it coming), PowerMizzou samples from the 'Flea Kicker' chapter of Todd Donaho's MizzouRah! Memorable Moments in Missouri Tiger Football History. It never gets any less aggravating.
  • With the 2007-08 basketball recruiting class taking shape, Inside Mizzou takes a look at a 2009 kid, St. Louis' Richard Anderson.
  • Fresh off a 42-18 season and a hosted regional, Mizzou Baseball has been rewarded with a Top 20 recruiting class.
  • And finally, proving once again that I have a super-low batting average when it comes to knowing what will become a huge story and knowing what should become a big story but won't, the Mike Gundy story still has legs.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mizzou-Nebraska Redux: 1997 (Part Two)

Feel the rage build up inside you...embrace it...

November 9, 1997

The game will go down in history as one of Missouri's finest, despite the fact it was a loss.

The Tigers gave the No. 1-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers all they could handle yesterday in a nail-biting 45-38 shootout before a sellout crowd of 66,846, Missouri's largest since 1984.

“College football doesn't get any better than this,” Tigers coach Larry Smith said. “It was two warriors out there banging away at each other.”

All the breaks seemed to be going Missouri's way until the final seconds of regulation, which had the Tigers ahead 38-31. But with seven seconds to go, Husker quarterback Scott Frost passed to Shevin Wiggins, who had the ball knocked out of his hands. Missouri's Harold Piersey looked ready to intercept, but Wiggins accidentally kicked the ball into the air on his way down and teammate Matt Davison caught it at the last moment. An extra point sent the game into overtime.

Missouri had been 3-0 in overtime the last two seasons, including a 51-50 triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma State earlier this year, but could not keep Frost out of the end zone. Missouri's final attempt to score fell short.

Most of the crowd was standing at the finish. Alumni pointed to the game as a return to the power teams of old.

“This is the best game since the K-State-MU game in '69,” said Vern Garton of Nevada, Mo. “And I've seen 'em all since '64. This is like the old time games.”

“Forget whose team you were rooting for,” said MU alumnus Mard Waltham. “It's the best game I've ever seen, and I've seen all the home games from 1969 to 1982, and several since then.”


November 9, 1997

Cars were lined up and down Providence Road, some tucked into the tightest of crevices just to have a parking space.

The sidewalks were filled with people. Tailgate parties were in abundance. Tickets actually sold for more than face value.

Traffic officers, normally innocent bystanders, were having to work for their overtime. Fans driving to the game had to sit and wait.

Not many of the 66,846 in the stands will remember, but this is the way it used to be at Memorial Stadium on football Saturdays.

Out on the field, the Missouri Tigers were playing top-ranked Nebraska head-to-head, taking shots and dishing them out. There would be no second-half collapses, no giving up when things got bleak.

MU coach Larry Smith called it college football at its finest. Sportscasters on college football shows called it the game of the year.

Hardly anyone would remember that this used to happen a lot in Columbia. A freak play at the end of regulation set up Nebraska's 45-38 overtime win to keep the unbeaten record intact. It was so freaky that thousands of Missouri fans rushed onto the field to tear down the goal posts only to be chased away by officials who informed them that Missouri had not won the game.

Even the automatic irrigation system succumbed to the tension and starting dispensing water with two minutes left in the game.

But the way Missouri team handled the vaunted Big Red Machine through the first 59 minutes of the game may have taken away the Huskers' No. 1 ranking.

Those who were within earshot of Faurot Field yesterday did a little time traveling. Former Missouri football players who have made a habit of staying away while the program floundered through a decade and a half of losing showed up yesterday, sensing that the day of atonement was near. It was one play away.

It is the heart-breaking loss that will go down in the record books. It is the loss that made the players shed tears on the field. It is the loss that kept this from being the most glorious night in modern Missouri football history.

But it was also a game that is likely to go down as one of the best of an era -- win or lose. If the Missouri program has a rebirth, this is the game that will be remembered as the moment of arrival. This was the day when Missouri, a five-touchdown underdog, shook off its well-documented flaws and showed a national TV audience that it belonged in the picture.

“I've never cried after a football game,” said linebacker Al Sterling, “but I did this time. It hurts bad.

“We came out to play them and we played their way and went right at them. If this doesn't send a message then they need to get the Pony Express to deliver it. Missouri is back and we're for real.”

Believe it.

When was the last time a top-ranked team's fans stood on Faurot Field and cheered after a victory over Missouri while the band blared the school fight song?

When did Missouri players come out of a losing game against the No. 1 team in the nation and say, “We should have won.”?

“I'm just disgusted,” said fullback Ron Janes. “We came this far, we might as well go ahead and win the game.”

Those are signs of the transformation and reasons for the painful emotional outpouring in the locker room.

“There's a lot of grief in there,” head coach Larry Smith said.

It was earlier in the week when Smith asked his team if it really believed it could win against Nebraska. To a man, the team answered yes.

“To come that close to your goal and not get it makes it extra tough to swallow,” defensive tackle Steve Erickson said. “You know a lot of teams go out and just hope that they can hang with a team, but we believed we could win.”

That's how it used to be at Missouri.



November 9, 1997

The “Immaculate Reception” it wasn't, but Nebraska wide receiver Matt Davison's remarkable touchdown catch at the end of regulation drew countless comparisons to Franco Harris' fabled grab.

Davison caught a tipped pass in the end zone with no time remaining in regulation that enabled No. 1 Nebraska to tie yesterday's game against Missouri at 38 and send it into overtime.

Propelled by that play, the Huskers scored on their opening overtime possession and stopped Missouri on four straight plays to earn a 45-38 victory and keep their national title hopes alive.

“I've seen that play on ESPN a few times,” Davison said of Harris' catch of a tipped pass against the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 playoffs that pushed the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 13-7 victory. “That was an unbelievable play. This was minor.”

There was nothing minor about this catch.

Nebraska had the ball on its own 33-yard line with 1:02 to play trailing 38-31. The situation forced the Huskers, who rushed for 353 yards, to rely on the passing of quarterback Scott Frost, who had completed just 6 of 14 passes for 118 yards and two interceptions.

It left all the Huskers a little uneasy.

“We're down seven points with 50 seconds left, yes, there was a lot of doubt,” Frost said.

Three key receptions by Kenny Cheatum, two of which went for first downs, put Nebraska in position to erase that doubt. Cheatum's third reception gave the Huskers the ball on the Missouri 12 with 14 seconds to play.

Following two incompletions, Nebraska called a double slant pattern with Shevin Wiggins and Cheatum lined up on the right side. Frost hit Wiggins at the goal line, but MU safety Julian Jones knocked the ball loose as Wiggins tried to fall into the end zone.

The ball bounced off Wiggins' leg as he fell backward, narrowly out of the reach of MU safety Harold Piersey, and floated into the end zone.

“All I saw was the brown thing bouncing around,” Frost said.

Davison, who had lined up on the left side, was running a crossing pattern into the middle of the end zone. That put him in position to dive for the loose ball and narrowly get his hands beneath it for the catch.

Missouri players, meanwhile, insisted the ball had touched the ground.

“The ball hit the ground. It bounced. I know it bounced,” MU linebacker Al Sterling insisted. “You could see it hit the ground. It hit the grass.”

Davison realized the call could have gone either way, depending solely on the official's view of the play.

“I guess it was just a few inches off the ground,” said Davison, a freshman who has six career receptions. “I was just hoping they were going to call it a catch. It was close enough that I think the officials had to make a good call to see that I really caught it.

“There was no doubt in mind that I caught it. I just wanted to see the call before I got all excited about because it was real close to the ground.”

Nebraska coach Tom Osborne knew it was close to being ruled an incompletion, but he fully expected a break to finally go the Huskers' way.

The breaks had consistently gone against the Huskers, with a tipped pass being intercepted by Piersey and an Ahman Green fumble being recovered along the sideline by MU lineman Steve Erickson.

“We had some bad breaks and some good breaks,” Osborne said. “Luckily, our good breaks came at the end.”



November 9, 1997

The kings of overtime were knocked from their thrown.

Missouri, which entered yesterday's game with a 3-0 record in overtime games, had an extra period to forget yesterday in a 45-38 loss to Nebraska.

Perhaps still smarting from Nebraska's game-tying score at the end of regulation, Missouri allowed the Huskers to score in the three plays on their OT possession. Scott Frost leapt over MU tacklers at the goal line to score on a 12-yard run.

But Missouri had a chance to answer, and it had never not scored a touchdown in an overtime possession.

“I was shocked when we didn't score,” MU tailback Brock Olivo said.

On Missouri's first play, offensive coordinator Jerry Berndt went to his pet play-action pass play -- the one in which the fullback and tailback sneak out of the backfield to the left side. Missouri used the play in the second quarter and Olivo scored on a 34-yard reception. Last year in the first overtime against Baylor, Olivo scored a 25-yard touchdown on the play.

“It always works,” Olivo said. “Give them credit, they did a good job defending it.”

Olivo was covered, and Jones tried to force the ball to fullback Ron Janes, but the pass sailded out of bounds.

“I think I could have run for at least 6 or 7 on the first play,” Jones said. “I threw it to Ron Janes. It got all jumbled up, and I didn't know if he was going to keep running or stop.”

On third down, tight end Jake Stueve let a sure first-down reception slip through his hands, and Jones was sacked on fourth down.

SACK ATTACK:It was the biggest play the Nebraska defense had faced all day, and the Huskers turned to two native Missourians to make something happen.

Senior right end Grant Wistrom, a native of Webb City, and junior left end Mike Rucker, a St. Joseph native, combined to sack Missouri quarterback Corby Jones for a 6-yard loss on fourth and 7 in overtime, helping secure the Huskers' 45-38 victory.

“Jones was making some scramble plays all day,” said Rucker, who had three sacks and four total tackles for losses. “It was very important that we got back there and got him before he scrambled.”

Making the critical play in his home state against a school that had recruited him made the victory all the sweeter for Rucker.

“I was glad to make an impact in front of family and friends,” he said.

WAS IT OR WASN'T IT:It was the play of the year in college football, but some Missouri players weren't so sure it was legitimate.

On the final play of regulation, Nebraska tied the game when a pass bounced off the foot of intended receiver Shevin Wiggins and was snared by a diving Matt Davison. Although replays seemed to show Davison made the catch, MU linebacker Al Sterling was convinced the ball hit the ground.

“It wasn't a touchdown, I'm sorry to say,” Sterling said. “I'm standing 2 yards from the ball and our whole team was right there. We all called it. We're not just saying that because we don't want them to win. We're saying that because it's the truth.”

MU cornerback Wade Perkins agreed.

“I thought I saw it hit the ground and come up,” Perkins said.

EXTRA POINTS:MU senior defensive tackle Brian Cracraft broke his leg in the first half.... Before Missouri's game with Iowa State, a computer error led the Faurot Field sprinklers to run throughout the night, making for a soggy field. Yesterday the sprinklers in the south end zone started up while Missouri was on its final drive of regulation.



Mizzou Links, 9-27-07

  • Another week, another young Mizzou scrub gets picked up for minor assault. Can't say I like that trend...especially with Moye, who was a pretty big breakthrough recruit out of Texas last year.
  • Pretty good opening paragraph in Dave Matter's article on the atrocious defenses of the Big 12: "Say this much for Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy and his rant against a newspaper columnist: At least someone played a little defense Saturday in Stillwater." Zing. In all, the numbers will obviously even out a bit during conference play, but it will be interesting to see what happens this year in a conference with 4 of the top 5 teams in total offense...and about 3 good defenses.
  • Tired of "Jeremy Maclin's made a dramatic comeback" stories? I thought not.
  • P-D columnist Jeff Gordon compliments Mizzou in his "Mizzou, Illini Grab Our Attention" column before totally flaking out with this line: " I like the Tigers to outgun Nebraska in a four-hour game. But I will like Nebraska in the Big 12 North until Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel finally proves he can avoid the Big Costly Loss that tarnishes a season." Way to take a chance there, Jeff. That way, no matter what happens you're probably half-right.
  • PowerMizzou has an update on Long Island QB James Brady, one of the backup-backup-backup plans at QB. He loves Mizzou, and I'd have to imagine our chances are good if we extend an offer his way. Then again, I've thought that about 16 times already during this recruiting year. Meanwhile, it looks like an MU legacy will visit as well.
  • Meanwhile, Gabe at PM goes ahead and offers his first of probably two MU-NU-centric Powered Up's.
  • And finally, if you didn't see this already, has its College Football Power Rankings at each position. At their respective positions, Chase Daniel is #10, Will Franklin #18, Martin Rucker #1, Chase Coffman #7.
As for non-football...
  • Here's the official release for this weekend's set of Mizzou Soccer games. The #16 Tigers will host #4 Texas A&M Friday night before travelling to Waco to play Baylor on Sunday.
  • Ouch. The series of 5-set losses seems to have had an effect on Mizzou Volleyball. The Tigers were swept by #18 K-State in Manhattan yesterday (30-21, 30-20, 30-20) to move to 0-4 in Big 12 play and 7-6 overall. Na Yang had an outstanding .611 kill % (11 kills, 0 errors, 18 attempts). The rest of the team? A .132 kill %. Ouch. Also, JUCO transfer Luiza Jarocka was the team's primary setter, with 17 assists to Lei Wang's 8. It doesn't get much easier for Mizzou, as the desperate Tigers now host #25 Oklahoma Saturday evening.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thoughts on the Rest of the Big 12

I appear to be a day behind this week. Oh well. I'll blame it on the bye week.

Once again, ranked in order of those who have proven the most, not necessarily a “power poll” in the typical sense of the word.

1. Oklahoma

Odds are, this isn’t going to change any time soon. The Sooners have at least a little bit of a test this week, with Sam Bradford’s first true road game (needless to say, a few Sooner fans made the trip to Tulsa last weekend). Lucky for him, it will be in just about the least-hostile place imagineable, Boulder. The CU defense is good, but really all OU will need to do is score 20 to feel comfortable. Being that they’re averaging about 86 points per game, they should be able to pull that off.

Crimson and Cream Machine has a quick CU scouting report.

2. Kansas

Eventually KU will have to prove something against a living, breathing team, but so far doing exactly what is expected of you still garners a #2 spot in the rankings.

Rock Chalk Talk has a boatload of links and thoughts.

3. Texas

The fact that they pummeled a Rice team that was already 0-2 against the Big 12 (including an absolute whooping at the hands of Baylor), the fact that the ‘Horns dominated the Owls was not much of a surprise. However, they looked good, and they got one more week removed from their weak showings against Arkansas State and Central Florida, so I’ll stick them at #3.

Burnt Orange Nation thinks about K-State and (in particular) Ron Prince way too much for anybody's health.

4. Missouri

They still haven’t proven if their defense is Kansas-level mediocre or Tech/Nebraska-level bad. That distinguishing line could make the difference in the North division this year. We’ll see soon enough.

I’ll use this space as an opportunity to link to Big Head’s fun review of ESPN/ABC announcing crews.

5. Texas Tech

They lost to OSU, and I’m sticking them above both ATM and OSU? Weird, huh? Actually, five games into the season, we know exactly what we’re going to get from Tech the rest of the way. If you make a few stupid mistakes on offense, their offense is good enough that you’ll find yourself down 17 in a matter of seconds. If you control the ball and manage to get to Graham Harrell a couple times, you’ll probably beat them. Spots #6-10 on this list are full of nothing but unknowns and uncertainty, and the fact that you know what level of quality you’re going to get from Tech puts them at #5. For now.

According to Double T Nation, it looks like one of the first acts for new Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeill was to tear off a redshirt. Really, not a bad idea, especially since the Raiders get a tune up against NW’ern State this week.

6. Texas A&M

Well...Jorvorskie Lane could carry the ball 45 times for 250 yards and 6 TD’s against Baylor this Saturday...or last week’s nationally televised egg-laying could linger for a very long time. I have no idea what to expect from ATM from here on out, but we’ll tell a lot from their first half effort against Baylor.

7. Nebraska

I won’t even begin to pretend that Nebraska won’t gain 400+ yards of offense against us on October 6. I’ll just mention that if the NU defense puts up another effort like they did at home to the Ball State Fighting Whitlocks, Mizzou will put up 800+. I doubt the Blackshirts are quite as bad as they looked last Saturday—Bo Ruud still makes a big play at the precise second you start wondering if he’s the most overrated defender in the history of the Big 12, Ndamukong Suh is lining up to be a 2nd-team All Big 12 DT (behind Texas’ two DT’s), and...well, that’s all the platitudes I can give at the moment. But I still say I doubt they’re as bad as they let on. The ISU game will say a lot. ISU isn’t completely dead weight—they still have Todd Blythe—but an even mediocre defense should hold them to less than 300 yards.

Corn Blight over at Corn Nation quotes Steve Octavien and Richard Nixon in an attempt to convince himself that the defense has found a leader. I’m not 100% sure he’s wrong—only about 95%. Fact is, after years of following the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Quin Snyder-coached basketball team, I’ve read all about a “lack of energy and motivation in guys” before. Simply identifying and acknowledging it doesn’t make it go away.

8. Kansas State

I still have no faith in Josh Freeman or the ‘Cat O-line, but the defense will keep them in games. The fact that they seem to have a defense of any kind puts them above quite a few teams in the conference...problem is, the fact that they don’t have a potent offense drops them right back down. I still think they beat KU next weekend, though...though that opinion could change if they lay a big egg in Austin.

Bring On the Cats has a nice set of KSU-related links.

9. Oklahoma State

They’ll always be a great team at home, and they still have a ton of potential on the offensive side of the ball. However, no other WR has stepped up opposite Adarius Bowman, and until someone does, they won’t reach their potential. And to say their defense still has a long way to go is an understatement. That said, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I liked Brandon Pettigrew, and man did he show why on that TD reception. That Tech safety (Garcia, I think) got juked out of his jock by a dude at least 50 pounds bigger than him...that’s gotta sting.

10. Colorado

Dominated most facets of the game against a MAC team that is a shadow of its former (i.e. Roethlisberger) self. This was a KU-type game—they really didn’t prove much, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do and looked good in the process. Can’t really ask for more than that, right?

I still don’t see how they gain more than 200 yards against OU’s defense, though. Time to prove something, Cody Hawkins-Nolte. has its own OU-CU preview...and OU shouldn't even bother showing up because CU is 8-2-1 all-time on 9/29. It's as good as in the bag.

11. Baylor

A 3-game winning streak will give you confidence no matter who those three wins came against, and that streak, combined with the fact that ATM might (or might not) be in turmoil at the moment, gives the Bears their best upset chance of the year. It probably won’t happen, and I can’t make myself actually predict it, but I keep dropping just enough hints that I can say “I told you so!” if it does.

BearMeat presents: Fear, Loathing and Football In The Savage Heart of the University at Buffalo.

12. Iowa State

You do figure ISU will overachieve some Saturday during conference season, and they might scrounge up a win somewhere (most likely candidates: home games against CU and KSU late in the year). However, that win probably won’t come in Lincoln, no matter how bad the Huskers looked last week. And as I mentioned in the Roundtable yesterday...the fact that they blew a 2-TD lead against Toledo last week without the Toledo offense seeing the field is quite impressive.

Clone Chronicles hands out the grades.


Mizzou-Nebraska Redux: 1997

I figured it would be fun (and a bit painful) to scroll through the two most memorable MU-NU affairs in recent memory in the run-up to next Saturday. First up (of course): 1997. I’ll post a couple articles a day.

NOVEMBER 8, 1997

In September, Corby Jones was advised in the Missouri student paper that he should consider switching positions -- to water boy.

In September, Scott Frost was booed by his fellow Nebraska students when he struggled in a home game against Central Florida.

It's November now, and in the opinion of many observers, the best two quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference will be wearing No. 7 on Faurot Field today when Jones' Tigers (6-3 overall, 4-2 Big 12) play host to Frost's Cornhuskers (8-0, 5-0) in a 2:30 p.m. game.

“I think you're going to see the two top candidates on the field,” said MU coach Larry Smith when asked who he considered the Big 12's best quarterback. “I think we do” have the best one, “but I think you're going to see the other one.”

You could argue all day about which one is better. You could argue all day about what the criteria for the argument should be.


Jones leads the Big 12 in total yards with an average of 229 yards per game. Frost is seventh with an average of 171 yards. But Jones has more carries and passing attempts than Frost, who rarely plays all four quarters because the Cornhuskers usually rout their opponents.

Jones has been the more effective passer with an efficiency rating of 133.9 compared to 118.3 for Frost. But Frost has averaged 6.1 yards per carry to Jones' 4.8.


Frost has guided his team to a flawless record. After hearing the boos the previous week, he responded with a terrific game at Washington on Sept. 20. He scored on runs of 34 and 30 yards as Nebraska, which was an underdog for the first time in four years, beat the Huskies 27-14. That was NU's closest game of the year.

Jones has led his team to its first winning season since 1983. He began the season with subpar outings against Eastern Michigan and Kansas, but has turned it around, especially in the passing game. With the Tigers trailing 37-30 with less than two minutes to play at Oklahoma State, Jones led an 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game, which MU won in overtime.

So who is better?

“You really think I'm going to answer that question?” Jones said with a smile. “I hope you really don't believe that.”

Father's sons

This question of which quarterback is better could have been answered by no less an authority than Tom Osborne if Jones had accepted Nebraska's scholarship offer after his senior season at Hickman High School in 1994.

Jones had narrowed his choices to Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska when NU quarterbacks coach Turner Gill, who had coached with MU assistant Curtis Jones at Southern Methodist, told Corby where he was headed.

“Turner basically told me that I wasn't interested,” Jones said last year. “He said, `Look, if you want to come, we've got a scholarship for you. Coach Osborne wants you, and we want you here, but I don't see you leaving your dad.' “

Gill was right, Jones belonged with his father at Missouri.

In his third year, Jones has rejuvenated an underachieving program with his superb play and is an ideal front man for the team. He is charismatic and articulate, cooperates with the media win or lose and moves comfortably in the spotlight that accompanies the big man on campus.

Frost also followed in his father's footsteps, although he took a round-about route.

Larry Frost played halfback for the Cornhuskers from 1967-69, and his wife, Carol, is a former NU track athlete who won a gold medal in the discus at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. But when Scott graduated from Wood River, Neb., High School, he chose to go his own way and attend Stanford and play for Bill Walsh.

“I wanted to try something different,” Frost said. “I wanted to get a chance to play in that offense. Stanford offered a great education. I got caught up in the fact it was out on the West Coast and was kind of new and exciting. It was something I just wanted to try.”

Frost spent his time as a backup quarterback and safety, and the Cardinal struggled. Walsh left, and Frost decided to do the same, transferring to Nebraska.

After sitting out a year, Frost took over last year for a team that was coming off consecutive national championships. He didn't do badly, completing 104 of 200 passes for 1,440 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for 438 yards.

But the Huskers lost two games, including a 37-27 defeat to Texas in the Big 12 championship game that cost NU a shot at its third straight national title. That's not good enough by Nebraska standards.

Breakthrough seasons

Frost wasn't the only guy with something to prove this year.

Jones grew weary of his reputation as a running quarterback last year. In obvious passing situations, Smith turned to Kent Skornia to lead the Tigers until Jones finally wrestled away the full-time job in November. He led MU to back-to-back victories over Baylor and Kansas to end the year and then went to work in the off-season.

He worked almost daily on his passing skills with his receivers. The results have been dramatic. Jones has completed 85 of 164 passes for 1,360 yards and nine touchdowns.

“I think last year everybody knew Corby could make the plays in the run game and they weren't real confident in him making a lot of plays --they saw him make a few but not a lot of plays -- that scored points consistently,” Smith said. “I think that's what he's brought to the table this season.

“He is a threat deep for touchdowns, short, intermediate, third-down situations, first-down situations. That's helped him become a more of a complete quarterback.”

With a far superior supporting cast, Frost's progress is a little harder to gauge. With running backs Ahman Green and Joel Makovicka chewing up yards, Frost hasn't had to carry the burden of an offense the way Jones has. But he simply hasn't made any mistakes.

“He directs our offense really well,” Osborne said. “He's a knowledgeable guy who really handles the option game well and he's a very effective thrower when you call on him. So his stats may not benefit him, but in terms of value and contribution and moving the football, he's done a great job and is probably one of the top quarterbacks in the country in terms of effectiveness.”

Today Jones will be asked to do the unreasonable, beat No. 1 Nebraska almost single-handedly. He is one of the few Tigers with the athletic ability to make big plays against the Cornhuskers. MU needs a whole lot of big plays.

Frost doesn't face that kind of burden. The Cornhuskers would be heavily favored with Grant Wistrom at quarterback. But Frost knows his judgment will be delayed. His legacy will be shaped by whether he can lead Nebraska to the national title.

“The end of this season will have a lot to do with how people remember me and this senior class,” Frost said. “If we can somehow go back and win another one, people will remember nothing but good things. If we don't, it's hard to tell. It's unfortunate that everything you do comes down to a game or two, but I guess that's life.”



NOVEMBER 8, 1997

Football used to set this town on fire.

In the 1970s, battalions of state troopers on game days used to funnel one-way streams of traffic toward Faurot Field; students used to camp for days in tent villages in front of the ticket booth to procure the best seats for the season; and downtown streets were blocked off to accommodate the throng of fans who hopped from bar to bar.

Last night at Harpo's, the undisputed “Keeper of the Flame” of Tiger football, fans gathered on the eve of Missouri's game against No. 1-ranked Nebraska to savor the possibilities of this season and to relive the past.

“Every game was an all-day party,” MU alumnus Mark Bumgarner said of the winning seasons so long ago. “You got a date and never questioned where we were going to go.”

His friend Jerry Carlson agreed. “It was more than a football game -- it was an event.”

Today, the ashes of 15 years of losing seasons cover the blazing glory of MU football teams past. Many alumni hope the 65,000 bellowing fans expected at Memorial Stadium this afternoon will breath new life into the flickering flame.

They are also hoping for a repeat performance of the 1978 game, when MU stunned the Cornhuskers, then No. 2, by defeating them 35-31 on their home field. James Wilder strong-armed a Nebraska tackler on the 3-yard line to score the winning touchdown.

“I remember watching him throw that guy off and dive into the end zone to win that game,” said alumnus Jim Stark. “He was a man among boys.”

A large contingent of Nebraska fans also gathered at Harpo's last night, a welcome sight to owner Randy Harper. “Nebraska fans are the best in the Big 12 Conference,” Harper said. “All the businesses look forward to them coming to Columbia every other year.”

Harper estimates a crowd as large as today's can give a $6 million boost to Columbia businesses, from florists to filling stations.

Larry Fuller, an MU alumnus who lived in Lincoln, Neb., during the 1970s, said Nebraska fans are not only the best in the Big 12, “they're the best in the whole world.”

At a party at Fuller's home last night for a large contingent of MU and Nebraska fans, MU alumnus Chuck Hatley said he's looking forward to seeing every seat full for the first time in a decade. “Even if we lose, to be there with 65,000 fans is exciting -- it makes you hungry to go back.”

Hatley said recent graduates have no memory of those football traditions, which burned out while some of them were still in grade school.

“Alums all the way into their early 30s have never seen a winning season,” he said.

Realistically, most fans don't think MU can beat Nebraska today, but as one person said, “Stranger things have happened.”

In the 1970s, the Tigers were giant killers -- a team that could topple any opponent regardless of rank or record.

Many thought back to 1976, when MU fans, buoyed by MU's 22-21 victory at No. 2 Ohio State, stormed Faurot Field in the dark and leveled the goal posts. As tradition warrants, they delivered the severed limbs to the sacrificial altar of Harpo's.

One anonymous alum said, “If we win tomorrow, the goal posts are least of our problems -- the Columns could come down.”



NOVEMBER 8, 1997

Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel couldn't believe his eyes. The uniforms belonged to Missouri, but the offense was Nebraska, or at least Cornhusker Light.

The Tigers were cranking out 15-play, 80-yard, 71/2-minute drives, and Colorado was helpless to stop them in a 41-31 MU victory. An athletic quarterback ran the option and threw the occasional play-action pass, bullish fullbacks landed body blows to the belly of the defense and hard-running tailbacks chipped away 6 yards at a time.

Neuheisel wasn't the only one to notice Missouri has patterned its offense after the Big Red Machine. While NU quarterback Scott Frost sat in a Waco, Texas, hotel room waiting for his team's night game against Baylor, he caught some of the Missouri-Oklahoma State game on television and saw plenty of familiar sights.

“I recognized a lot of plays that we run that they run too,” Frost said. “Maybe some of the blocking schemes are different, and I'm sure we have plays they don't run and they have plays we don't run, but as far as the basic theory of an offense and style of play, I think they're pretty close to the same thing.”

The catch is that Nebraska's offense never has to play against Nebraska's defense in a game. Missouri's offense does today in a 2:30 p.m. game at Faurot Field.

MU's current scoring average of 32 points is the highest since the 1969 Orange Bowl team averaged 33.2. In the last three games, the Tigers have averaged 43 points. But Missouri (6-3 overall, 4-2 Big 12) hasn't faced a defense like Nebraska (8-0, 5-0).

“Their defense, you look at tape, and you grind and grind and grind on the tape and try to find something you can make go consistently,” Missouri coach Larry Smith said. “The biggest thing is they've been using the same scheme now for four years.

“They've put in a few little wrinkles, but for the most part it comes down to on defense they've got great athletes, great quickness and speed at every position.”

The Cornhuskers are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense and No. 4 in rushing defense. They have given up only seven points in the last three games.

“The things we can't do, No. 1, is turn the ball over, and No. 2, we can't have negative plays,” MU offensive coordinator Jerry Berndt said. “They're whole team thrives on turnovers and negative plays.”

Berndt said that Nebraska's scheme forces opposing offensive lines into a series of one-on-one blocks. Any weak link on the O-line gets exploited all day because it's hard to give him any help.

If Missouri's inside running game is going to work, Tiger guards Mike Morris and Craig Heimburger and center Rob Riti will have to win head-to-head matchups with All-American defensive tackle Jason Peter and the 310-pound Jason Wiltz.

Missouri had absolutely no luck getting around the corner with the option game against Nebraska last year, and Corby Jones was knocked out of the game after taking several vicious shots. The Cornhuskers haven't gotten any slower since then, and senior defensive end Grant Wistrom is the playing the best football of his career.

The All-American from Webb City forced three fumbles, recovered one and made two sacks in a 69-7 victory over Oklahoma last week. He might be the most disruptive defensive player in the nation.

To move the ball on such a defense, Missouri will probably have to place its faith in the passing and scrambling of Jones. The junior quarterback has averaged 205 yards passing and 63 yards rushing in the last three games.

Texas was able to beat the Huskers 37-27 last year by letting the mobile James Brown buy himself time to pick apart the Nebraska secondary.

“Texas made some big plays last year, and that's one thing we have to do,” Berndt said. “If you're going to beat them, you have to make some big plays. You're not going to have 17-play drives against this football team. They don't allow you to do that. That doesn't mean we can't, but you don't have many of those.”



Mizzou Links, 9-26-07

I overslept a bit this morning, but that's fine because there's not a lot going on with the off week coming up...

  • Dave Matter takes a look at the ridiculously high expectations built by the Mizzou offense at this point, and on his blog he releases his weekly power poll. Kansas moves past Nebraska, but not ATM...yet. Just wait till ATM loses to Baylor, heard it here first! Sort of!
  • Meanwhile, Joe Walljasper keeps the Mike Gundy story rolling for another day.
  • This week's senior features: Tyler Luellen and John Ruth.
  • Champaign's Mikel Leshoure will be visiting for the MU-NU game. Meanwhile, things are looking good in the recruitment of St. Louis' Hulas King and James Moore.
  • Steve Walentik discusses the finalized CBE Classic schedule. Mizzou Basketball should definitely get a nice jumpstart to the season, facing Central Michigan and (probably) Fordham (not a terrible team) and 2 of 3 against UCLA, Maryland, and Michigan State. Of course, I guess I shouldn't count my chickens just yet...not after the Sam Houston Preseason NIT disaster a couple years ago...good times...
  • The nice weekend for Mizzou Soccer was reflected not only by a jump in the polls, but also by the awards that rolled through the front door for sophomore Kristin Andrighetto (3 goals, 2 assists--named to Soccer America's Women's Team of the Week) and freshman Alysha Bonnick (3 goals, 1 assist--named to's National Elite Team of the week and named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week). As The Beef has mentioned, this is a great start for the team, but they've now got to bring it in conference play as well. The Trib's Ryan Nilsson has more.
  • Mizzou Volleyball will attempt to avoid an 0-4 start in conference play tonight, but they'll have to do it in Manhattan against #18 K-State. They've got a chance--there's no doubting that they've been competitive this season with all those 5-setters--but I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, Na Yang is 1 kill away from moving into Mizzou's Top 5 for all-time kills.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mizzou Sanity Roundtable: Week 4

And here we go once again...

1) While your team was expected to go 4-0 to start the season, now that it's actually happened, what has been the most pleasant development of the first month? (And for those mizzou fans out there, you can answer "Jeremy Maclin," but that's pretty predictable. Just sayin'.)

2) As things begin to shake down, who are your North and South sleepers?

3) Offensive Freshman of the Year: Jeremy Maclin, Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, or Michael Crabtree? Seriously, how good are the freshmen in the conference this year??

4) Is it possible to come up with a worse slate of Big 12 games than the foursome of OU-CU, NU-ISU, KSU-UT, and BU-ATM? If there's an upset in that bunch, which one is it?

Bonus) MU-Nebraska kicking off at 8:15pm...a good thing or a great thing?


The Beef: The most pleasant surprise for me has been Martin Rucker’s season to this point. What I truly wanted was a year where Rucker was the decided focus of the TE touches so he could up his own stock and potentially make it so that Chase returns next year to do the same, all the while giving our TE recruits time with him. Rucker’s season has been great so far and his plays of dragging people are just fun to watch.

My North sleeper is whoever wins between ku and ksu…though I don’t know when they play. The winner of that game could potentially have a shot at the top depending on how things fall.

My South sleeper I only say that because I think the Miami loss knocks them back to a point where not as much is going to be expected. However, if there are issues with Lane and the coaches or whatever, I reserve the right to change my vote to no one.

Sam Bradford wins it….

If there is an upset in there, it is NU/ISU...but I really doubt it. The others...ugh...just ugly.

I only say good thing on the game and its placement because I believe we will be joined in progress and not have our own start. While that seems small, I think it counteracts much of what our fans assume will happen with this game. Our crowd will be SO jacked at the beginning that you NEED to have that on TV from an exposure standpoint, and the starting time potentially negates that. A small thing, but if you are going to be on ESPN, you want it all and this is not likely to give it to us.

Doug: 1) The ability to do what is expected. Say what you will about the schedule KU has for non-conference games, but the fact remains the Jayhawks took care of business. They didn't fall victim to letting teams back in late or allowed themselves to fall behind and have to crawl back (Nebraska). However, they are not always goingt to play with a runaway lead, and K-State will be a huge test of how this team handles major adversity.

2) North sleeper - Kansas. If KU gets the win over K-State on the road, that puts them in a very good position to win the North especially with Nebraska, Iowa State and Baylor in Lawrence, and yes, they lose homefield against Missouri, but hopefully the team will be playing with sky-high confidence at that point.

South sleeper - I guess I'll go Oklahoma State since they beat Texas Tech over the weekend, but in the South, everyone not named Oklahoma should be considered a sleeper... or at least sleeping.

3) Yeah, come on down... Sam Bradford. Who da thunk it?

4) Upset picks? I'll take Iowa State to cover against Nebraska and Baylor over Texas A&M.

Bonus - How many drunk fans can you fit into Missouri's stadium? You'll find out the answer on Saturday.
Michael Atchison: 1) That Illinois and Ole Miss appear to be pretty decent teams. Illinois has gone on the road and pretty easily handled two BCS-league programs, and Ole Miss put a little scare into Florida this weekend. Frankly, though, when it comes to Mizzou, Maclin is the only big positive surprise. I expected Coffman, Rucker and Franklin to be as good as they’ve been, I expected Daniel to be a little sharper than he’s been the past couple of weeks, I expected our running game to break more big plays than it has, and I hoped against hope that the interior of our defensive line would hold up against the run better than it has. The first four games have given me reason to be both hopeful and terribly nervous.

2) Does “sleeper” mean a team that has a shot to make it to the Big 12 championship game other than Texas/Oklahoma and Missouri/Nebraska? If so, in the south, the answer is NO ONE. Really, right now there are some guys playing touch football on Stankowski Field who have exactly as much chance of winning the south as Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. In the north, I suppose the answer is Kansas. I know the schedule has been soft, but they’ve completely obliterated the competition. Really, though, the race might be wide open. I still think the schedule favors Mizzou, but would any of you really be shocked if Kansas, K-State or Colorado stepped up and won a couple of games they shouldn’t? I wouldn’t. And if one or more of those surprise wins comes against the Tigers or Huskers, it throws the race into chaos.

3) I’ve personally seen Maclin play three times and score six touchdowns. Normally, I couldn’t fathom that there’s a player who could take the award from him, but he’s probably no better than third in the race right now. Murray isn’t going to win it because he’s splitting carries with Allen Patrick and is on the same team as Bradford. Strictly from an offensive perspective, Maclin probably doesn’t win it because so much of his impact is on special teams, and he’s one of four relatively equal receivers at Mizzou (along with Rucker, Coffman and Franklin, and Danario Alexander is coming back). Crabtree is posting video game numbers: 52 catches, 775 yards, 11 touchdowns. In four games. Are you kidding me? But as good as Crabtree has been, I suspect the answer is Bradford. He’s the most important player on the league’s best team, and he’s not just managing games, he’s dominating them, completing 78% of his passes for over 1,000 yards in four games, with 14 touchdowns and just two picks. If he’s anywhere near that good during the conference slate, he’s not just offensive freshman of the year, he’s offensive player of the year.

4) I bet someone could construct an algorithm to come up with a worse group of games, but not by much. Oklahoma and Texas are unupsettable (how’s that for a word?) in these games. Iowa State appears to be the lousy fighter with the big right hand. They got outboxed by lightweights Kent State, Northern Iowa and Toledo, but they coldcocked Iowa. Given Nebraska’s suspect state of mind (they’re two plays away from owning a three-game losing streak), I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cyclones pull it off. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s more likely than Oklahoma or Texas taking the fall.

Bonus) You know, I really don’t care. Beat ‘em in the morning, beat ‘em in the evening, makes no difference to me. Personally, as someone who brings two young kids to the games, though, it stinks, as I know there’s every chance that I won’t be there at 11:45 when it’s over. But I also know it’s not about me. I’m sure it will be a supercharged atmosphere, which will be fun. I’m also convinced, though, that some of our fans will, um, fail to properly pace themselves. Take care of each other, people, and stay away from the brown acid.
ZouDave: Even sitting at home sick I'll still get my response in quickly!

1 - Uh...Jeremy Maclin? Yes, that's pretty predictable. I guess the real question is: Besides Jeremy Maclin, what's been the most pleasant development of the first month? Well, Seth definitely took what is in my opinion the next best answer which is Rucker's dominance. The guy has been amazing, at another level than I ever thought he could be on. And other than those two things, I'm not (pleasantly) surprised by anything. So maybe that's my answer: I'm pleasantly surprised by the fact that my high expectations are being met so far. We've only trailed once all year, and that was 6-0 against Illinois. When we took the lead back 7-6, I told my dad and the friends I was watching with that we were not going to trail again for the rest of the season. I was obviously kidding, but here we are and I'm still right!

2 - Another fairly easy answer that Seth already took: the winner of kansas and KSU. Personally, I'm picking KSU in that game, but if ku goes in there and wins then you can officially count me as impressed by them.

3 - I think this is a trend we're seeing all over the country, and I can't explain it. From the ones you've mentioned, to players like Noel Devine at West Virginia or Stafon Johnson at USC or Tim Tebow at Florida last year or Darren McFadden 2 years ago at Arkansas. There are freshman all over the place that are just incredible. Kids these days *grumble grumble*.

And of course, the best one in the Big XII is Jeremy Maclin.

4 - In my opinion, the ONLY one that could possibly go against the norm is ksu-UT. And it's only because UT has not looked good this year, and ksu has a strong enough defense that it could cause problems early and take the crowd out of the game. I'm not picking them to win, I'm just saying it's the only one I see as possible.

BONUS - Couldn't ask for anything better than this. It's exactly what we'd want, everything is setup precisely how any of us would have done it if it was all our choice back in August, and this is our time. I can't wait for 10/6.
The Boy: 1) Honestly, the answer might simply be that Chase Daniel took some chances and was reminded of which throws he can and can't make. Better he's reminded of it against Western Michigan and Illinois State than Nebraska and Oklahoma. I guess there's a chance that these INT's are signs of things to come (in a bad way), but knowing how he learned from his mistakes last year, I think the odds are in his favor on this one.

2) I was prepared to say Kansas even though I realized that their odds of winning in Manhattan next week aren't altogether fantastic...but then I looked at their schedule. There's a chance 5-3 wins the North again, but I'd say the odds favor 6-2. Being that Kansas plays at College Station and Stillwater (where OSU is 10x the team they are on the road), a loss in Manhattan would significantly injure KU's chances, though NU and MU have definitely proven fallible enough that said loss wouldn't knock them out of the race by any means.

3) I understand that Sam Bradford will win it if he doesn't nosedive simply because he plays QB for the conference's best team. That said, Michael Crabtree's numbers are absolutely astounding. It's one thing to put up ridiculous numbers against UTEP and's another to do it in conference. Granted, OSU's defense is worse than Missouri's (I think), but still...considering Tech will play 13 games, Crabtree has a legit chance to hit 2000 yards and 30 TD's. Atch is right--that's video game numbers. And considering he's doing it as a freshman...good god...they had him return a couple kicks against OSU too. If he breaks a couple of long returns, then there's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't squeeze his way into Heisman consideration. I know he plays for Tech, other Tech receiver has done what he is doing right now. I guess we finally see what happens when Mike Leach's system gets its hands on a high-profile WR recruit.

4) Honestly, I'm going with ATM-Baylor. 2006 aside, Baylor has played ATM well in recent years, and being that a) the game is in Waco, b) ATM's been getting (justifiably) railed for their horrid (coaching) performance on national TV last Thursday, and c) while Baylor isn't good, they're still confident after a 3-1 start, the Bears will have a chance. Of course, ATM could respond to the criticism by playing their absolute best and destroying BU, 44-3, but I still think this one's the most ripe for an upset. I think ISU is d-u-n after blowing that lead to Toledo (they blew a late two-TD lead without Toledo's offense touching the ball), I think the revenge factor is enough to limit KSU's chances against Texas, and I don't think CU's offense will get more than about 150 yards against that leaves Baylor.

*) Another 6:00 kickoff (a la 2003) would have been perfect, but still...the later the better. It is definitely a shame that the ESPN audience likely won't see the beginning of the game, when the atmosphere is guaranteed to be three steps beyond electric, but that's the only negative. That, and the fact that the odds of this game finishing before midnight are minimal.

Okay, I have a meeting shortly, but...time to open up the floor. Any outstanding issues? Who's Atch going to piss off this week? :-)
The Beef: was me in week 1 and Dave in week 2...should we unleash him on the Hawk or is that just not fair.
Michael Atchison: I’ll take on any of you pencil-necked geeks™ (1962, “Classy” Fred Blassie). Who wants to dance? Anybody? Thought so.
The Beef: Does anyone else find it ironic that the smallest of Sanity members in size talks the most crap? Like one of those little barking dogs...all the time barking...
ZouDave: What does that make you and me, then?
The Beef: Big dumb animals I believe...
The Boy: Big dumb animals who apparently don't have any outstanding issues for the group...
ZouDave: you're an outstanding issue.

I've got nothing. We're basically right where I thought we'd be. We're not quite as good on defense as I'd thought, but I wasn't expecting much. I'm happy with our receivers, I'm happy with our running backs, I'm happy with our line, and despite his "poor" performances over the last 2 games I'm happy with Chase Daniel.

And I'm happy we haven't attempted a 2pt conversion since the Illinois game.
Michael Atchison: I’m a fit six feet tall and 165 pounds. That’s Marvin Hagler in his prime, baby.


Mizzou-Illinois State: Beyond the Box Score

I never really shared too many thoughts about Saturday’s game; while part of that is simply because it was a relatively un-memorable affair, I’ll try to add some observations throughout this Beyond the Box Score bit.

Another note: some time in the next week or so, I’m going to analyze Mizzou’s performance as a whole through the first four weeks, comparing it to that of our next opponent, Nebraska. Anyway, on with the show...

Success Rate by Quarter

All Plays
Q1 – Missouri 52.9%, ISU 41.2%
Q2 – Missouri 61.9%, ISU 57.9%
Q3 – Missouri 60.0%, ISU 61.1%
Q4 – Missouri 58.8%, ISU 52.2%
TOTAL – Missouri 58.7%, ISU 53.2%

Close (within two possessions)
Q1 – Missouri 52.9%, ISU 41.2%
Q2 – Missouri 61.9%, ISU 30.0%
Q3 – Missouri 60.0%, ISU 58.8%
Q4 – N/A
TOTAL – Missouri 58.6%, Illinois State 45.5%

As with every other game this year, Mizzou was relatively dominant when the game was within two possessions (i.e. less than 17 points), but things evened up when the rout was on. And again, that’s not the worst problem in the world to have. Bottom line is, we’ve been up 20+ in all four games this season. Only putting up 38 points (tied for our lowest total this season) was a little disappointing, but the offense moved the ball efficiently the entire game. The missed field goal and the three INT’s (two of which came relatively deep in ISU territory, both in the fourth quarter) were the drive-killers, not offensive inefficiency.

QB Success Rate

I think I’m going to still label Daniel as the QB in all of the plays where others (Rucker, Maclin, Temple) take the direct snap. Daniel’s still on the field, and it’s still his offense—it’s just that the offense goes into quite unique formations from time to time.

That said, only two QB’s were on the field on Saturday when the game was close.

Chase Daniel – 34-for-58 (58.6%)

Luke Drone – 20-for-44 (45.5%)

Run Success Rate

Tony Temple – 9-for-15 (60.0%)
Marcus Woods – 2-for-4 (50.0%)
Derrick Washington – 1-for-2 (50.0%)
Chase Daniel – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Earl Goldsmith – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Jimmy Jackson – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Jeremy Maclin – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
TOTAL – 16-for-25 (64.0%)

Geno Blow – 8-for-13 (61.5%)
Luke Drone – 2-for-3 (66.7%)
Parrish Fisher – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Rafael Rice – 0-for-4 (0.0%)
TOTAL – 11-for-21 (52.3%)

Considering the teams we’ll be facing over the next couple of months, 52.3% is just too damn high for Illinois State. It’s like when Rice left the game, we just decided they wouldn’t run the ball anymore. Offensively, however, I don’t think you could ask for much more than this. Chase Daniel only ran once, which is fantastic for a meaningless game like this, and Tony Temple’s backups went 5-for-8. Everybody was running with confidence, and I was pleased to see the way Chase has been taking two steps forward during the handoff...something obviously designed to give the RB’s more of a running start, especially up the middle. We seem to have strayed somewhat from the ‘hand the ball to the RB while he’s standing still 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage’ plays, though they were still utilized a bit.

Receiver Success Rate

Jeremy Maclin – 4-for-5 (80.0%)
Martin Rucker - 3-for-4 (75.0%)
Chase Coffman - 3-for-3 (100.0%)
Will Franklin - 2-for-2 (100.0%)
Tommy Saunders - 2-for-2 (100.0%)
Tony Temple - 1-for-2 (50.0%)
Jimmy Jackson - 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Jason Ray - 1-for-1 (100.0%)
TOTAL – 18-for-21 (85.7%)

Illinois State
Meredith – 3-for-3 (100.0%)
Mickle – 2-for-2 (100.0%)
Salem – 2-for-2 (100.0%)
Geno Blow – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Chandler – 1-for-1 (100.0%)
Harcar – 0-for-2 (0.0%)
TOTAL – 9-for-11 (81.2%)

The emergence of Jeremy Maclin has pretty much allowed Mizzou to keep Will Franklin in reserve and just dust him off when necessary. The opening TD went to Franklin, then he only saw one other meaningful ball. The more I think about it, the more I like the fact that Maclin and Rucker have dominated a good portion of the non-conference action (sans Franklin’s first half against Ole Miss). Franklin and Coffman are kind of drifting under the radar right now, plus Alexander is still on pace (I believe) to return for NU. It’s pretty nice knowing that you have 5 guys who could go for 100 (or 150) yards receiving on any given Saturday.

Line Yards

Rushing – 25 attempts, 96.0 yards (3.84 per carry)
Total – 58 plays, 223.2 yards (3.85 per play)

Rushing – 22 attempts, 79.3 yards (3.60 per carry)
Total – 44 plays, 129.7 yards (2.95 per play)

Defensive Success Rates

Defensive Line
Tommy Chavis – 1.0 tackles, 1.0 successful (100.0%)
Ziggy Hood – 1.0 tackles, 1.0 successful (100.0%)
Lorenzo Williams – 1.0 tackles, 1.0 successful (100.0%)
Stryker Sulak – 3.0 tackles, 1.0 successful (33.3%)
Tyler Crane – 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL – 7.5 tackles, 4.0 successful (53.3%)

Brock Christopher – 3.5 tackles, 2.5 successful (71.4%)
Sean Weatherspoon – 5.5 tackles, 3.0 successful (54.5%)
Van Alexander – 1.0 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL – 10.0 tackles, 5.5 successful (55.0%)

Defensive Backs
Castine Bridges – 0.5 tackles, 0.5 successful (100.0%)
William Moore – 3.5 tackles, 2.0 successful (57.1%)
Pig Brown – 6.0 tackles, 2.0 successful (33.3%)
Carl Gettis – 2.0 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
Justin Garrett – 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
Hardy Ricks – 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
Darnell Terrell – 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL – 16.5 tackles, 4.5 successful (27.3%)

So coming into this game, I wanted to see good things from the following players: Van Alexander, Ziggy Hood, Stryker Sulak. Alexander did next to nothing. Take the “close game” filter off, and he was outplayed by Luke Lambert. Hood did next to nothing. Sulak had a nice sack and continues to make a bunch of ‘almost’ plays...but did next to nothing otherwise. Not encouraging. Also not so encouraging: that the secondary had to make that many tackles. Once I have more data together, I’ll be able to start looking at what % of tackles you see from each unit on good defenses compared to shaky ones. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure the 48.5% made by the DB’s is way too damn high.

Turnover Costliness

Mizzou1: Q1, 14-3 MU, 1st-and-10 from the Mizzou 31 (Interception by Nelson): 4 points
Mizzou2: Q4, 38-10 MU, 1st-and-goal from the ISU 7 (Interception by Roberts): 3 points
ISU1: Q4, 38-10 MU, 3rd-and-13 from the Mizzou 18 (Interception by W. Moore): 3 points
Mizzou3: Q4, 38-10 MU, 2nd-and-10 from the ISU 37 (Interception by Nelson): 2 points

Mizzou: 3 turnovers, 9 points (3.0 avg)
ISU: 1 turnover, 3 points

Statistical MVPs

Offense: Once again, the statistical MVP directly coincides with the “watched with my eyes” MVP. It’s gotta be Jeremy Maclin, who was ‘successful’ on 5 of 6 opportunities (83.3%) and scored two TD’s. Tony Temple (10-for-17, 58.8%, 1 TD) is probably the runner-up.

Defense: We’ll go with William Moore, who made 2.0 ‘successful’ tackles from the safety position and had an INT worth 3 points. Runner-up: Sean Weatherspoon, who led the team with 3.0 ‘successful’ tackles.