The Tigers returned home Saturday and took care of business against Western Michigan, defeating the Broncos by a final of 52-24. Overall, the Tigers looked pretty solid, and it's hard to complain about a 28-point home win and a 3-0 record.
That said, it's time for a little game ETS likes to call "Good, Bad, and Indifferent." Away we go:
-- Jeremy Maclin: The X-factor was once again a jack-of-all-trades and a game changer. Maclin's 275 total yards inculded averaging over 8 yards per carry on the ground (with a touchdown) and nearly 14 yards per catch. I honestly believe the only parallel to Maclin across the nation is Florida's Percy Harvin.
-- Chase Daniel's legs: They were kind of jumpy in the pocket, but those legs fueled a solid day of the zone read and the slot option. His 39-yard scramble for a touchdown was vintage Daniel - reminding me of my days watching him in high school.
-- Will Franklin field awareness: I've meant to mention this but I keep forgetting. Franklin always seems to understand exactly where he is on the field, as he so often manages to find seams to the first down marker. In addition, he has outstanding awareness down the sideline, usually cutting upfield for a few extra yards on every out or hook.
-- Defense against pre-snap motion offense: Western Michigan did Missouri a huge favor by running a pre-snap motion offense, a favorite of Bill Callahan and Nebraska. Generally, the Tigers responded well, sans a few expected mistakes in coverage.
-- Brock Christopher: Mizzou's cerebral MLB showed a nose for the ball against WMU, finishing with 10 tackles, and an outstanding interception.
-- William Moore: Willy Mo was decent in coverage but outstanding in pursuit all day. Moore led the team in tackles with 11, but there were numerous other occasions where his speed to the ball forced WMU ballcarriers back to other defenders. Moore did have a few issues wrapping up on a couple of plays, but his pursuit can not be overlooked.
-- Ziggy Hood: Ziggy only finished with six tackles but had a hand in several plays in the backfield and a few more downfield. In the second quarter, I recall Hood pursuing and making a tackle seven yards down the field on the FAR sideline. I don't know if that speaks to his hustle or issues with the rest of the defense, but nonetheless, I was impressed.
-- Chase Patton and Jimmy Jackson: The second team offense looked very impressive on Mizzou's last drive. Patton was calm, assertive and smart with the football, and seemed to have much more of a rhythm than Daniel did throughout the day. He looked like a capable leader, only depressing me further that he'll never get a chance to have Missouri be "his" team. Jackson was shifty and made good cuts to get the edge. My only qualm with the last drive was that a FG would have made my prediction 100% correct, as opposed to the touchdown that put me four points over (I know it's selfish - I have no soul).
-- Jeff Wolfert: Count me in panic mode. Wolfert shouldn't and usually doesn't miss that 43-yarder, although he did somewhat redeem himself with the 47-yarder later in the game. Wolfert looked EXTREMELY relieved walking off the field after the successful kick. Additionally, the kickoff game was absolutely atrocious against Western Michigan. But some of that might be because of:
-- Kickoff coverage: I don't know how much of it was the coverage team and how much of it was the kicking, but can the Tigers afford to have that kind of showing on kickoffs later in the season? Are you Tiger fans willing to give Nebraska or Oklahoma the ball on the 35-40 yard line on most drives?
-- Chase Daniel's timing: Daniel never seemed to find a rhythm and never looked comfortable in the (often collapsing) pocket. It's hard for me to pile on the offensive line though, as Daniel seemed to hold on to the ball too long on the majority of Missouri's intermediate to deep (read: "non-screen") passing plays. And after pimping his ball security and the interception-less streak on both my blog and on a radio appearance, the interception he threw to break the streak should never have been thrown. Daniel had no reason to force the ball in on a post with a safety coming over the top from the Cover 2.
-- Arm tackling: Poor tackling continues to haunt the Tigers. Especially guilty were Stryker Sulak, Tommy Chavis, Van Alexander, and to a lesser extent, the secondary.
-- "Killer Instinct": I can't really tell whether or not I saw any. Mizzou shut WMU down in the first half and once again gave up big yards and quite a few points using the "bend but don't break and NEVER adapt to halftime offensive adjustments" defense. Once again though, the defense did enough when it had to, and Missouri possessed the ball enough in the second half to get the win.
-- WR Corps: Excluding the tight ends, the receivers seemed semi-average today. Perry got away with a fumble, Bracey had an inexplicable drop, and Franklin seemed a step off on some of the deep balls.
-- Running game: Whether it was Temple, Daniel, Maclin, Rucker or Jackson, the rushing offense seemed to get exactly what the offensive line paved for them. If the O-line had issues, the running game was stuffed. But whenever the blocks were held, the Tigers were extremely effective on the ground.
-- Outside linebackers: Van Alexander and Sean Weatherspoon were collectively neither good nor bad. They often got caught up too far inside on stretch plays and had some trouble, understandably, defending in the flats.
-- Pass rush: At certain times, the rush looked pretty good. But there were a couple other times where Hiller had a few minutes to look at all five options before finally checking down to Simmons or West. Stryker Sulak made a couple of solid plays getting his hands in passing lanes.
THE ETS MVP:
Jeremy Maclin (as predicted)
THE ETS UNSUNG HERO AWARD:
Photo courtesy: Sarah Becking, Associated Press