Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Poll Watch

A brief edition of the Sunday Poll Watch begins:

The coaches weigh in for the USA Today poll, putting Missouri one spot behind Texas at No. 17. Points of interest:

-- After upsets of Oklahoma and Texas, neither Colorado nor Kansas State are viewly highly enough to by coaches to crack the Top 25, much less the Top 30.
-- The potential clash of Top 7 teams in the Red River Shootout has been relegated to a clash of No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 16 Texas.
-- Cal now gets the nod for third-best team in the country.
-- Boston College, Kentucky, and South Florida all crack the top 10. Just like everyone predicted, right?
-- Nebraska drops one spot to No. 23.
-- Don't look now, but Illinois is starting to get some votes and some respect.

The Associated Press Top 25 poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll once again completely agree regarding Mizzou, with the AP also putting the Tigers at No. 17. Point of interest:

-- The above notes regarding Cal, BC, Kentucky, and South Florida all stand.
-- Texas freefalls to No. 19.
-- Missouri sits one spot behind Hawaii. Can you imagine the final score of a Missouri-Hawaii game?
-- The Big 12 North takes the final two spots in the poll, placing Kansas State at No. 24 and Nebraska at No. 25.
-- Interesting discrepancy in votes for Kansas between the writers and the coaches.
-- LSU overtakes USC for the top spot by only one first-place vote and a total of two points.

And so it begins...

After a thrilling weekend both in college football and in Missouri athletics, one of the most anticipated weeks in Missouri football history is finally upon us.

After a weekend that afforded me the opportunity to witness thrilling wins over No. 4 Texas A&M in women's soccer and over No. 25 Oklahoma in volleyball, I walked by a lit Faurot Field shortly after 9:00 last night and couldn't help but start thinking about just how alive the stadium should be in exactly one week's time.

But on a week that saw college football turned upside down, here's a little of what I learned:

-- How 'bout that Big 12 North?

-- The Northern road to San Antonio now runs through Boulder and Manhattan, both of which should be very tough road tests for the Tigers.

-- The Red River Shootout just got relegated to second-tier attraction at the Texas State Fair, putting Texas' toasted blitz protection schemes just behind the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

-- Does Saturday's events show the growth of the North or the relative weakness of the entire conference?

-- The Florida loss coupled with the Red River Shootout fiasco puts half the nation on College Gameday watch.

Poll updates will be coming throughout the day.

6 days until Mizzou-Nebraska in prime time. Get pumped Tiger fans.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bye Week Boredom

In lieu of actual content, here's Brad Smith beating the hell out of Nebraska in 2005, complete with gold pants:


Photo courtesy Sarah Becking. More photos at Becking.com.

Is this the greatest post ever?
- Picture of Brad Smith? Check
- Beating Nebraska? Check
- Gold pants? Check
- Me shutting up? Semi-check

8-plus days until Mizzou-Nebraska. Get pumped.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Big 12 Round Table - State of the Conference

Our friends over at Crimson and Cream Machine have once again assembled the masses with a Big 12 Round Table, this time to discuss the state of the conference.

1. The Big 12 conference has only four unbeaten teams left and has endured numerous embarrassing performances on television. State where you believe the Big 12 ranks among the BCS conferences.

ETS: The Big 12 is in a sad, sad state at the moment. The early frustrations of "sleeper" South teams combined with the struggles of the North's supposed powerhouse has painted El Grande Doce in a very negative light nationally. Here's how I see they conferences as they stand at the moment:

1. SEC: It's getting old to hear since ESPN, SI, and probably even Al Jazeera continue to cram the SEC's greatness down the throats of football fans. But I will accept no arguments that the SEC shouldn't be at No. 1.
2. Pac-10: The emergence of Oregon and Arizona State this season has been a MAJOR credibility boost for Les Miles' favorite punching bag.
3. Big East: No. 3-6 are a straight toss up, but I give the nod at No. 3 to the Big East for its collection of rising programs, rather than programs falling and clinging to mediocrity.
T4. ACC: The freefall of Virginia Tech from early hype hurts the conference, but the emergence of Boston College coupled with the official beginning of the Randy Shannon era at Miami against Texas A&M puts them at a tie for No. 4. Plus, I love me some Clemson Tigers this season.
T4. Big 12: Oklahoma is on a straight rampage, and most of the rest of the conference has the ability to put up a fight against any team in the country. However, who usually ends up as the victor at the end of those fights drops the Big 12 down to a tie for No. 4.
6. Big Ten: Remember that quip about programs falling? Hello Michigan, Iowa, and struggling Penn State/Wisconsin.

2. What has been the conference’s best victory and worst defeat so far this season?

ETS: Oklahoma embarassing Miami on national TV is far and away the conference's best victory, especially after Miami showed this past week that it can still play a little ball. The win affirmed that, despite the questions about the conference's depth, the best of the Big 12 can play with the big boys.

The worst loss though has to be Oklahoma State's 41-23 loss to Troy. Even now it is hard to fathom that a team that was many people's ultra-sexy pick as a Big 12 and Top 20 sleeper went on the road and lost by double digits to a team that plays in a facility named "Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium." I guess it makes sense though, as that was one hell of an acting job by the Pokes in the offseason to look like a legitimate national threat.

3. Who is the worst coached team in the conference?

ETS: Let me break this down by process of elimination: Immediately take Bob Stoops out of the equation, for obvious reasons. I then subtract Gene Chizik, Dan Hawkins and Guy Morriss, who have very little to work with. Now I take away Gary Pinkel, Mark Mangino and Ron Prince, all of whom have done what is expected so far thus season.

This leaves me with the following list: Mack Brown, Bill Callahan, Dennis Franchione, Mike Leach, and Mike Gundy. The case could be made for Gundy, who, in several instances this season (like his statements against Jenni Carlson), has not properly prepared for the task at hand. But Gundy gets off the hook by virtue of a win over Texas Tech. I then turn to Leach, who I'll give a bye merely because you know EXACTLY the way Leach will coach, and if the Red Raiders truly had a problem with it, the exit door would be kicked wide open. Tech is merely reaping what it sows. Additionally, I'll pass Mack Brown, who I personally believe is nothing more than a better-than-average coach who can't win a championship without Vince Young. Brown has been more of a parole officer this season than a coach.

But my decision rests as a tie between two coaches: Callahan and Franchione. Both were highly respected hires brought in to reinvigorate programs but have done just enough to keep them afloat. Should Texas A&M really get stomped by Miami and have trouble defending sacred Kyle Field against Fresno State? Should Nebraska really have to rely on a dropped pass and missed field goal to defeat Ball State in front of the vaunted Sea of Red? If things don't turn around pretty soon for either coach, two VERY high profile jobs may be open come this offseason or two VERY high profile programs may continue their downward spiral from the success of the 1990s.

4. With the regular season already a third of the way over, which players received too much hype in late August and which players didn’t receive enough?

ETS: Too much hype: Nebraska's Sam Keller, OSU's Bobby Reid, Texas A&M's Stephen McGee
Not enough hype: Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Kansas' Todd Reesing, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin

5. The best part of the roundtable is voicing how we believe the conference teams rank each week, from top to bottom. So, go ahead, let us know who’s up and who’s down in your book this week.

ETS: Here's how I see it:
1. Oklahoma: No contest. The "Crimson and Cream Machine" is well-oiled and going full steam ahead.
2. Missouri: It's not that I'm this impressed by Missouri, it's that I'm that disappointed in the rest of the conference.
3. Texas: Congrats. You blew out Rice. I'm still waiting for you to show me you're still a powerhouse.
4. Kansas State: The Cats are quietly going about their business and flying under some radars since the loss to Auburn.
5. Kansas: I can't believe I just did this, but I'll give the Jayhawks benefit of the doubt despite their pathetic non-con schedule.
6. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are proof to Missouri fans that, yes, this "one-dimensional" thing could be much, much worse.
7. Nebraska: Free-falling. The fall after Callahan's extension reeks of "Pinkel post-extension" from last year.
8. Oklahoma State: Can Zac Robinson get the Cowboys to the form everyone expected them to be in earlier in the season?
9. Texas A&M: Everyone not named "Mike Goodson" or "Mark Dodge" looks uninspired. Not giving the ball to J-Train Jorvorskie Lane early and often against a speedy Miami defense is unforgivable.
10. Colorado: Still not sure what to make of this enigma. I think Colorado could challenge teams 2-9 on any given day, but I need to see it on a consistent basis to bump the Buffs up.
11. Iowa State: Things all of the sudden don't look so bleak. They won't contend, but they could certainly start ruining some seasons.
12. Baylor: I don't buy into "Syzzle" and spread. The Bears are in trouble now that non-conference is over.

Photos courtesy Associated Press

Monday, September 24, 2007

Warm up the lights...

Mizzou-Nebraska is coming to you nationwide in prime time. More details here.


Photo by Sarah Becking

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Poll Watch

The Sunday Poll Watch is on. Stay tuned for updates.

In the meantime, enjoy the Saturday Scenery:


Photo courtesy Sarah Becking

12:20 p.m.: USA Today Coaches Poll is released, with Mizzou jumping five spots to No. 20. Other notes:
-- Big 12 takes a hit, dropping Texas A&M out of the Top 25. ETS' "overrated" call last week is looking a tad better at this point. Texas Tech also falls off the radar screen.
-- Nebraska remains steady at No. 22 despite Ball State pushing Husker Nation into a Big Red Panic not seen since McCarthyism.
-- ETS also takes full credit for selling Louisville and South Carolina high, although it's hard to fault SC for losing to LSU. Louisville's loss to Syracuse is an entirely different story.
-- "Big Ten Missouri Light" Purdue (copyright ETS) debuts at No. 25 in a tie with Arizona State.
-- Only three one-loss teams remain ahead of Missouri: No. 14 Virginia Tech, No. 16 Georgia, and No. 19 Penn State.

1:01 p.m.: For the second straight week, the Associated Press agrees with the coaches, or vice versa, moving Mizzou up to No. 20. Other notes:
-- Again, Texas A&M drops out of the Top 25 and Texas Tech falls off the radar. Oklahoma hops Florida for No. 3.
-- Nebraska drops one spot to No. 25. Mizzou ranks ahead of Nebraska in both polls.
-- Kansas continues to hover around the Top 30 in both polls. KSU-KU ought to be an interesting test for both teams.

Entering this week, the questions are: What happens to Nebraska against Iowa State? Does Mizzou move up or down following the bye week? Is KU for real?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It's official...



ETS now has an unhealthy mancrush on Jeremy "the X-factor J-Mac" Maclin and all he stands for. To steal a line from one of ETS' favorite blogs Every Day Should Be Saturday, "a thousand cocktails" to Jeremy Maclin and his enormous contribution to Mizzou's undefeated record entering conference play.



But on a day that honored America with the above flyover, we honor you, Missouri Tigers, for a 38-17 win over the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday.

And with the game concluding, that means it's time for Good, Bad, and Indifferent.


Tiger's Lair knows it's time for Good, Bad and Indifferent.

GOOD:

-- Jeff Wolfert kickoffs: ETS usually likes to start with offense, but figures its time to give the special teams its due. Wolfert and his coverage team were outstanding against Illinois State. The Redbirds best field position following a kick was their own 30 yard line, and their average first play from scrimmage following a kickoff was around the 23-yard-line. Winning the field position battle could be huge in conference play, so this development is potentially pivotal.
-- First half tackling: For most of the first half, the Missouri pursuit was actually met with solid tackling. Whether lineman, linebackers, or defensive backs, it looked like the Tigers were wrapping up and finishing plays.
-- Redzone defense: The redzone defense, especially in the first half, was outstanding. Gaps were filled, wide outs were covered, and the defensive line got outstanding penetration. The success makes me wish Mizzou would move an eighth man into the box further upfield to stop the run, gambling to stop the run at the risk of giving up a deep ball.
-- Sean Weatherspoon: Not only did Weatherspoon fly to the ball all day, he even entertained the crowd with a Merriman-esque "Lights Out" dance in the second half. Weatherspoon once again led the team in tackles (with 12) and seemed to always be around the ball.
-- Young RB Trio: Jimmy Jackson, Earl Goldsmith, and Derrick Washington were all outstanding in brief spells for Tony Temple. The three combined for 64 combined yards on 10 carries, and Washington added 25 yards receiving on a beautiful catch in traffic. The three are not exactly bruising, north-south type runners, but they add a great ground dimension to this offense this year and into the future.
-- Will Franklin: Once again came up big in several situations, including taking the first play from scrimmage 57 yards for a touchdown untouched on a bubble screen. However, one of his best plays came later in the game, knocking away a potential interception on a horrid throw from Chase Daniel directed straight at a waiting Redbird defensive back.
-- The crowd: I was not impressed with the crowd against Western Michigan last week, but I was somewhat proud of the 56,137 at Faurot, especially for a less than marketable matchup (scheduling is another post for another day). The crowd waned in both enthusiasm and numbers as the game wore on, but given the opponent, the early showing alone was semi-impressive.
-- Did I mention that Jeremy Maclin is "kinda good?" Maclin became the first Tiger in 32 years to return two punts for touchdowns in a season, adding a 64-yard punt return for touchdown in the fourth quarter. My adrenaline pumps metric tons whenever Maclin gets the ball in space, or even better, on the run (like he did on the return).

BAD:

-- Well, congratulations Geno Blow - you're the latest winner of the "Face the Missouri Run Defense" sweepstakes! Blow was the beneficiary of the defensive line struggling and the linebackers have issues with play recognition, punishing Missouri with several angry runs. Blow finished with 116 yards on 21 carries. However, the Tigers did manage to contain the rest of the Redbird runners, who combined for only 39 yards.
-- Blitz pickup: On several different occasions, the offensive line looked confused and confounded in blitz pickup. On Chase Daniel's first interception, his decision making was likely hampered by the sight of seeing a defender completely blow past a 360-spinning Colin Brown. Granted, perhaps Chase should have just accepted a loss on a sack on that play, but Missouri's trouble reading some exterior blitzes may come back to haunt them in conference play.
-- Ineffectiveness of the Mizzou blitz: The Missouri coaching staff was surprisingly aggressive in the second half, calling numerous zone blitzes and sending linebackers and safeties on several occasions. But the Tigers execution on the blitzes was mediocre at best, merely exposing players in coverage and often providing little to no pressure on Luke Drone.
-- Vulnerability of soft zone: For the second straight week, the opponent was able to nickel and dime Mizzou down the field on outs, hooks, and drags while defensive backs were turned running backwards to fill zones. Plus, if the coaches don't trust the corners to play man defense against Illinois State, is there any hope for man defense against any Big 12 teams? Should we just expect Mizzou to give teams those five or six yard completions all the way down the field.
-- Playing time: Was it me, or was the first team offense exposed to injury for WAY too long because the game was still somewhat in doubt?

INDIFFERENT:

-- In warm up, Mizzou ran several plays with quarterbacks literally under center/not in the shotgun, including a number of stretch plays. Oh Gary Pinkel, why must you tease me so?
-- Key to success: It seems like Mizzou's defensive success is largely a function of its play on first down. It seems like Mizzou's stops come only when the Tigers are able to stuff a run or force an incompletion on first down. Any more than four or five yards on first down, and the Tiger defense seems defeated until another set of downs.
-- Chase Daniel: With wonderkid once again looked average and extremely fallible. I can't classify him as bad, given his line (21-34, 294 yards, 3 TD), but for the second straight week, Daniel didn't appear to be in complete control. Daniel probably shouldn't have trusted his arm trying to throw the ball away on the first interception, and his second interception was a great play by Tom Nelson sliding across the top of the endzone to cover a temporarily open Martin Rucker. Daniel was not bad, but I was hoping for a little more than "not bad" heading into conference play.
-- Bend but don't break defense: The defense bent but did not break on most drives, coming up with big redzone stops. Can they bend without breaking against Big 12 defenses?

ETS MVP:
Jeremy Maclin (repeat winner)


ETS UNSUNG HERO AWARD:
Sean Weatherspoon


Photos courtesy Joel Kowsky, Charles Ludeke, LG Patterson

Gameday

WIth four hours until kickoff, Mizzou's personal video czar ZouDave lets us get in Mizzou football mode with Western Michigan highlights.



Fight Tigers!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Illinois State Preview

Every True Son is proud to debut its first ETS Podcast.

This week, the ETS Podcast comes to you in lieu of a typed preview.

Enjoy!


Preview

Having some technical issues with the Illinois State preview, but hopefully it'll be up and running by tonight...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Conference projections

But this time, none of my own:

College football guru/god Phil Steele has predictions on how every team will finish conference play. And for those too scared to click - be not afraid. He comes bearing great news.

ADDENDUM: Latest BlogPoll has Mizzou at No. 20, one spot behind Texas A&M. Nebraska drops out of Top 25.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jumping the gun...

Considering I'm having serious motivation issues in regards to thoroughly researching Illinois State, I opted to start browsing around bowl projections and looking at the advantages and disadvantages of certain scenarios for the Tigers:

-- CBS Sportsline has an all too common matchup: Missouri/UCLA in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.
Advantages: Well-regarded bowl; city of San Diego; traditionally solid/prestigious opponent; ESPN TV exposure (including west coast markets)
Disadvantages: May be a consolation if Nebraska wins North and secures Cotton Bowl berth.
History:: Mizzou last played in the Holiday Bowl in 1997, losing to Colorado State, 35-24. The Tigers are 0-2 all time in the Holiday Bowl.

-- ESPN's Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach have differing opinions, with Schlabach placing Mizzou in the Holiday Bowl against Oregon and Maisel dropping Mizzou to the Gator Bowl against Clemson. The Holiday matchup with Oregon would follow the same pattern as above, minus a large market share opponent. The battle of high-octane offenses would be rather entertaining. As for Maisel's matchup between Clemson and Mizzou:
Advantages: New Years Day bowl; network TV (CBS); ESPN's infatuation with Lil' Bowden = more coverage
Disadvantages: Playing in shadow of larger bowls that day; Does Jacksonville count?; Think Ole Miss' BenJarvus Green-Ellis slashed Mizzou? Imagine James Davis and CJ Spiller against Mizzou.
History:: Clemson and Mizzou actually met in the Gator Bowl in 1949, with Mizzou losing, 24-23. Missouri is 1-2 all-time, and is considered to have helped "save" the Gator Bowl because of the high attendance at the 1949 Clemson game.

-- Scout.com currently drops Mizzou even lower, projecting a Missouri-Purdue matchup in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 27.
Advantages: ESPN coverage; San Antonio (plus recruiting exposure in Texas); Purdue television market gives game recruiting importance in Midwest; spread offense shootout would be highly entertaining and play into Missouri's favor
Disadvantages: Lower-prestige bowl; means Mizzou would have missed out on the important game in San Antonio (Big 12 Championship); relegates Mizzou into the light of "fourth or fifth choice" in the Big 12
Fun Fact: The Alamo Bowl has actually produced eight of ESPN's top 20 most watched bowl games.

-- But my favorite projection is one of great importance to me: my own preseason projection. Please ignore basically EVERY other prediction, including but not limited to: Texas winning the Big 12, OSU in the Holiday Bowl, Oklahoma falling to the Sun Bowl, etc.
Advantages: Major bowl recognition; usually one of the first New Years Day bowls; network TV coverage by station with BCS rights (FOX); Appearance likely means Mizzou put up a fight in Big 12 title game; Texas recruiting exposure
Disadvantages: Travel to Dallas; poor venue; tough SEC opponent could be disastrous for Missouri; Pressure on Mizzou fans to travel better than Nebraska did last season.
History: Mizzou last appeared in the Cotton Bowl in 1946, losing to Texas, 40-27.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Poll Watch

The poll watch begins...

-- 10:41 am: Mizzou may have a leg up in the online BlogPoll, where Missouri entered the weekend at No. 25. The Sunday Morning Quarterback didn't have many great things to say about the Tigers before Western Michigan:

"Missouri just makes me pause. The Tigers have beaten two BCS conference teams, but it was Illinois and Ole Miss, two of the worst, most mid-major-like of the available options. And Mizzou's defense has struggled dramatically to stop attacks that were striving to improve to mediocrity - 484.5 allowed per game to Ole Miss and Illinois. Eh. Win is a win is a win, and everyone below Missouri has either lost or feasted on the even sicker and weaker, but the Tigers are in with a bullet for now."


I'll keep an eye out for thoughts on Mizzou in the upcoming blog poll, and of course, the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll.

-- 11:41 am: According to the USA Today, the coaches say Mizzou is worthy. Among the free falling are ex-No. 11 UCLA, ex-No.15 Georgia Tech, ex-No. 16 Arkansas and ex-No. 24 Tennessee.

Other notes from the USA Today poll:
- USC retakes a commanding lead at the top, securing 44 first place votes to LSU's 8 and Florida's 7.
- Texas retains No. 6 spot despite barely escaping UCF on the road.
- Three Big 10 teams in top 10: No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Ohio State and No. 10 Penn State
- Big 12 has five teams in Top 25. Nebraska drops to No. 22, and Texas Tech is still on outside looking in.
- Some teams that are starting to get some well-deserved love: No. 12 Boston College, No. 13 Oregon, No. 14 Clemson
- Sell these teams high: No. 6 Texas, No. 14 South Carolina, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 17 Virginia Tech, No. 18 Hawaii, No. 19 Louisville
- Missouri still sits behind the last two flavors of the week: No. 24 South Florida and No. 23 Kentucky

-- 12:29 pm: The Associated Press feels the love, placing Mizzou at No. 25 in its poll as well.

A couple interesting notes:
- If nothing changes, the Big 12 North showdown will feature No. 24 Nebraska and No. 25 Missouri. I wonder if the writers will find the teams this even in October or if the Big Red Bias takes over once again.
' - Texas and Oklahoma both drop one spot, Texas because of its own issues and Oklahoma because of the strong showing by Florida yesterday.
- Again, I feel the love for No. 13 Oregon, No. 14 Boston College, No. 15 Clemson.
- Again, not feeling it for No. 12 South Carolina, No. 17 Virginia Tech, No. 18 Louisville, No. 19 Hawaii, and No. 20 Texas A&M. SC, VT, Louisville and aTm deserve rankings, but lower than where they currently sit. I still don't buy the Hawaii hype.
- Also think the AP may have jumped the gun a litle on putting Alabama at No. 16.
- I'm interested to see how the AP treats No. 21 Kentucky and No. 23 South Florida when those teams lose their first game.
- Mizzou beat out Arkansas and Georgia Tech for the No. 25 spot.

Now, up next for Mizzou to really make an impression on voters? That vaunted Illinois State football program makes its way to Columbia...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Home Cookin'

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:

GOOD:

-- 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).



BAD:

-- 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.

INDIFFERENT:

-- "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:
Brock Christopher

Photo courtesy: Sarah Becking, Associated Press

Friday, September 14, 2007

Prediction Post

So I slacked off for this one, but let me get straight to the point:

48-24, Missouri.

Spread: Missouri (-20.5): Mizzou covers.

MVP = Jeremy Maclin

Unsung Hero = Chase Patton

Thoughts?

The votes are in...

And ETS readers have spoken.

Tony Temple takes the "ETS Unsung Hero" award against Ole Miss. (Cue applause track).

In honor, here's a video of TT doing his thing:



Also note Chase Daniel not taking sh*t from anyone - Rebel or referee.

Congrats to 22, here's to being one day from gameday at Faurot Field!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Browsing the Media Notes

In lieu of a Q&A with a Western Michigan blogger, I defaulted to the next best thing: Western Michigan propaganda, er, PR game notes.

-- Missouri is WMU's third BCS conference opponent. The Broncos lost to West Virginia, 62-34, and to Indiana, 37-27.

-- In the all-time series between the two teams, Missouri is 1-0 against WMU, taking a 48-34 win in Columbia back in 1999.

-- Four WMU football team employees have ties to the Tigers. Former All-Big 12 lineman AJ Ricker, graduate assistant Chris Tabor, and Missouri graduate Kyle Blecha all serve on the staff of head coach Bill Cubit, who I'm sure most recall as Mizzou's co-offensive coordinator in 2000.

-- The last time WMU started 0-2 was 2005, when the Broncos responded by taking seven of their last nine games.

-- Opponents are outscoring WMU 59-21 in the first two quarters of games. Facing Mizzou's quick strike offense will likely not help that cause...

-- The Broncos are currently riding a 28-game turnover streak. To the contrary, Chase Daniel recently set the Big 12 record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception, having thrown 235 passes to best the 205 set by Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal. Daniel is 36 passes away from the NCAA record, held by the immortal Trent Dilfer.

-- WMU is among the bottom in the MAC in the following categories: rushing offense, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense, punt returns, turnover margin and sacks allowed. Then again, playing West Virginia tends to extrapolate those numbers a bit.

-- MU only attempted 23 passes in the 1999 game against Western Michigan. Don't be surprised if Mizzou attempts 23 passes in the first half alone in 2007.

-- On average, WMU is being outrushed by opponents, 268-31. No, that's not a typo.

-- When I went and did the math, the difference in capacity between Faurot Field (68,000) and WMU's Waldo Stadium (30,000) is greater than the enrollment at either school. I refuse to make a "Where's Waldo" pun here.

-- As great as the news is that the Tigers survived two BCS opponents away from home to open the season, here's a little more food for thought: Mizzou has won 8 of its last 10 home openers and has won 72 percent of home openers since 1980. Gary Pinkel is 4-2 in home openers, averaging a 36-point margin of victory in the four wins.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Big 12 Round Table - Now that we know...

This week's Big 12 Round Table once again comes courtesy of Crimson and Cream Machine.

1. Based on what you now know to be your team’s strengths and weaknesses, if the game was on the line do you want your offense or defense on the field?

-- [sarcasm]After hours and hours of painful deliberation[/sarcasm], I'm going to go ahead and go out on a limb by saying I have much more faith in the Mizzou offense than I do the Mizzou defense. I'd much rather rely on an offensive unit scoring an average of 39 points per game as opposed to my defense that has given up 29.5 points per game. I'd much rather have my offensive squad that gotten points out of 44 percent of the unit's possessions rather than my defense who surrenders points on one out of every three possessions. Granted, the defense has come up with some timely turnovers, but with the game on the line, I'd much rather see my field general Chase Daniel on the field than a unit that includes a defensive line that's gotten blown off the line of scrimmage and a defensive back corps that seems hung out to dry on several occasions.

2. If you had to pick a team from the AP Top 10 for your team to play this weekend who would you pick and why (OU & Texas are not options).

-- Let me run through it team-by-team:

- 1. USC: Would be a fun home-and-home, but it could get ugly quick, especially given USC's stable of All-American running backs against Mizzou's porous run defense.
- 2. LSU: One of the few teams in America that I think could nearly shut down MU's passing attack.
- 3. OU: (excluded)
- 4. West Virginia: White, Slaton and Devine would have a field day. Rich Rodriguez makes running in the spread look that easy.
- 5. Florida: According to TimTebowFacts.com, The NCAA declared that Tim Tebow may lose his amateur status because he is a professional ass kicker.
- 6. Texas: (excluded)
- 7. Wisconsin: I'm in favor of a trip to Camp Randall, merely because I want to jump around.
- 8. Cal: I think this would be an interesting matchup, especially at home.
- 9. Louisville: Brian Brohm vs. Chase Daniel. First to 100 wins.
- 10. Ohio State: Given some of the problems Ohio State had with Akron, I think Mizzou could make some noise in this matchup.

- Given these choices, my top picks would probably have to be Louisville, Ohio State, Wisconsin - in that order.

3. You can take one player off your team and trade him for any player in the conference who plays the same position who are you taking?

As much as I love Lorenzo Williams and Ziggy Hood, I'd love to have a big piece of beef to drop in the middle of that defensive line. My personal choice would be Texas DT Frank Okam, whose 320-pound frame would be rather tough to blow off the line of scrimmage and would help with interior run defense. If I'm allowed to trade backups for any single player I want, then let's make it Okam for Mizzou DT Charles Gaines. Other trades I considered included a backup defensive end for Texas A&M DE Chris Harrington and a cornerback for Oklahoma DB Reggie Smith or Kansas DB Aqib Talib.

4. Conference Power Rankings! Rank the teams in the conference from first to worst.

1. Oklahoma - Victory over Miami solidifies Sooners as conference's top team.
2. Texas - Neither impressive nor repulsive in 34-14 win over TCU.
3. Missouri - Home-blog advantage has Tigers one spot ahead of the Huskers.
4. Nebraska - "Lucky" to escape Wake with a W.
5. Kansas State - Does USF's win over Auburn make KSU's loss look worse?
6. Texas A&M - If Fresno State and Montana State have had this much success passing against the Ags, wait until conference play begins.
7. Oklahoma State - Yet another team who looks worse after losing to an SEC Week 2 loser (Georgia).
8. Texas Tech - Even for a system receiver, WR Michael Crabtree is something special.
9. Colorado - Bonus points for playing a real opponent, despite the loss.
10. Kansas - Drop below Colorado based on weak scheduling.
11. Baylor - Impressive win over Rice to be followed by games against Texas State and Buffalo, but I'm still not sold.
12. Iowa State - Poor, poor Gene Chizik. It's a long way from Austin, ain't it?

5. Big 12 Players of the Week – Make your selections for offensive and defensive players of the week for week two.

-- Offensively, ETS takes Sam Bradford, hands down. The redshirt freshman went from unproven to rising star in less than two weeks, especially with the numbers he put up in OU's 51-13 thrashing of Miami. Bradford was 19 of 25 for 205 yards and five touchdowns, effectively embarassing Randy Shannon's "vaunted" new defense at "the U."
-- Defensively, I was hoping to find someone other than Oklahoma DB Reggie Smith so I could avoid a Sooner sweep, but his 61-yard fumble recovery for touchdown helped seal a win for the Big 12 in the conference's premier game of the day.

Okam photo courtesy MackBrownTexasFootball. Bradford photo courtesy Associated Press and Rivals.com

Monday, September 10, 2007

No contest...

In my last post, I looked to you, dear reader, for help in naming the package/formation with Martin Rucker under center.

It ended up being no contest. The runaway winner was ETS reader Matt who came up with this bit of pure gold:

"The MotherRucker"

Love it. Embrace it. It's beautiful.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

2-0 headed home...

Mizzou survived its first true road test of the season and sits, albeit in dangerous fashion, at 2-0 heading home for the next three games.


Photo courtesy Sarah Becking. More photos available at Becking.com

Let's take a look at the Good, Bad, and Indifferent of Mizzou's 38-25 win over Ole Miss. This week's edition may be rather brief, given that all of my observations had to be channeled through Tiger radio voice Mike Kelly.

GOOD:

-- Is it too much of a postgame overreaction to want discuss Chase Daniel's place among the nation's top quarterbacks? "Booger" was lights out in Oxford, going 31 of 42 for 330 yards and 5 touchdowns, as well as adding 55 yards on the ground. It's hard for me to find a quarterback I'd rather have at Mizzou than Daniel, especially for the system Missouri runs.
-- Welcome back Tony Temple. I pumped myself up so high on this kid after the Sun Bowl only to suffer a severe letdown against Illinois. Temple rushed 17 times for 123 yards, averaging over 7 yards a carry - more than BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I was unable to see the game, so I don't know whether the blocking was better, the zone read plays developed quicker than last week, or if Temple was just running with more authority. But whatever it was, keep it coming.
-- I am bowing down at the throne of Mr. T. Martin Rucker was again outstanding, coming up with four receptions for 54 yards, as well as 10 yards on two carries on the ground, including a nine-yard gain where I'm told he just rampaged through the Ole Miss defense. I'm struggling to come up with a name for the Rucker-under-center formation. Help me out in the comments section...
-- Pig Brown. The official man crush of ETS finished with 12 tackles and a HUGE fourth quarter pass breakup on fourth down to effectively seal the victory for the Tigers. Not only that, but he did it only a few plays after leaving the field hurt.
-- Brock Christopher and Sean Weatherspoon. Once again, it seemed like every time a play ended, those two were somehow involved or somewhere close. The two combined for 17 tackles and two pass breakups.
-- Will Franklin making his presence felt early with touchdown receptions of 10 and 40 yards.


Photo courtesy Columbia Tribune

BAD:

-- Run defense, run defense, run defense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis shredded Mizzou to the tune of 226 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. The Tigers made him look like Darren McFadden yesterday. If BJGE did this to the Tigers, Marlon Lucky, Allen Patrick and Jorvorskie Lane should be enough to cause me to seizure.
-- Killer instinct: Once again, it looked like Mizzou had it in the first half and left it in the locker room before the second half. I couldn't see that game so I don't feel completely comfortable blaming coaching, but this team needs to find a way to step on some throats in the second half.
-- The lack of television. Having to listen to the game on the radio made me glad I live in the generation I do.

INDIFFERENT:

-- Length of drives: It's such a double-edged sword. Mizzou is incapable of grinding things out to run the clock, so to move the ball, the Tigers have to take a chance by going to the air. Now I can't really complain about scoring, but Mizzou is scoring so quickly (all five touchdowns came in drives under three and a half minutes) that it's putting the defense in a bad predicament. Does anyone out there think the D might be fatigued in the second half, causing the breakdowns we've seen the last two weeks?
-- Carl Gettis: The learning curve is steep but he seems to be handling it as well as you can expect for a freshman cornerback. He got beat late in the game to help Ole Miss make it close, but he should develop into a solid DB for the next few years.
-- ADDENDUM: I completely forgot to mention Jeff Wolfert. Coming into this season, I had Wolfert as infallible. Two missed kicks from the 40-50 yard range, and I'm suddenly a tad concerned.

THE ETS MVP:

Chase Daniel


Photo courtesy Associated Press

THE ETS UNSUNG HERO AWARD
Now available for voting! See the poll on the right.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Coming tomorrow

Coming tomorrow:

A very short version of Good, Bad, and Indifferent

Ole Miss Live Blog - Second Half

What's going on: I'm glued to the radio like a Brooklyn Dodgers fan circa early 1900s, so I'm going to do my best to do some live blogging without any visual element here whatsoever... Feel free to drop in, refresh constantly, and interact via comments at the bottom. All times below are Central Daylight Time. The first half live blog can be found one post below.

-- 6:57: And we're back... Maclin takes return to MU 29-yard line.

-- 6:59: Touchdown to Greg Bracey. Once again, Daniel finds a receiver who burned Terrell Jackson. Chase now has five touchdowns - and this isn't Murray State.

UPSET DENIED: Fresno State failed to convert on a 2-point conversion in overtime; Aggies win 47-45. Does Texas A&M's showing against Fresno cost them votes? Does that open the door for Missouri, looking that much more impressive up 4 TDs on the road in the SEC?

-- 7:04: Well that was quick. Hardy Ricks gets beat for a 68-yard TD pass.

-- 7:05: Poor snap on the extra point costs Ole Miss the PAT. MU 35, Ole Miss 13.

-- 7:08: ESPN GameCast is beginning to get behind. I'm not liking this.

-- 7:10: Mizzou tries Coffman on the bubble screen WR pass. Personally, I'm not sure I like the call.

-- 7:13: Ole Miss finally able to pressure Daniel, forcing him into intentional grounding penalty. Mizzou stil in the red zone.

-- 7:15: Wolfert tacks on three points. Mizzou leads 38-13 with nine and a half minutes remaining in the quarter.

-- 7:21: My browser shuts down and I lose my radio connection. Upon my return, Ole Miss is in the redzone.

-- 7:24: Face-guarding pass interference penalty on Darnell Terrell gives Ole Miss another set of downs to work with.

-- 7:26: Little to no pressure on Seth Adams (according to radio), leading to Shay Hardy's second TD reception of the day. Hardy makes catch over true freshman Carl Gettis. Two-point conversion attempt is broken up by Darnell Terrell, MU leads 38-19.

-- 7:30: Ole Miss squib kicks. Are they avoiding Maclin?

-- 7:31: Coffman out route gets MU a first down. Temple follows with an 11-yard run to put him over 100 yards. I am elated at this news, now realizing my immense love-hate relationship with Tony Temple.

-- 7:34: Wolfert from 43, no good. Suddenly Wolfert doesn't seem as infallible as he did last year.

-- 7:36: I can't find a gametracker that is actually caught up. The MU defense is being carved up. I'm prepared to stab something.

-- 7:37: Green-Ellis is down to the Mizzou 2 as the third quarter ends. Points by Ole Miss here could make the final 15 minutes extremely interesting. MU leads 38-19 headed to the fourth quarter.

-- 7:40: ESPN's RealTime scoreboard says Ole Miss has scored. My radio is still behind/in commercial. This can't be good...

-- 7:41: My impeccable intuition/common sense was right: Green-Ellis rushes for a touchdown and now has 185 yards on the ground. The two-point conversion is incomplete, and Mizzou leads by 13. That sound you hear is the Mizzou run defense imploding.

-- 7:43: This next drive is HUGE. The Tigers must get points here to swing momentum back towards Mizzou, even if it's only three from Wolfert.

-- 7:45: Chase Daniel rushes to Ole Miss 48 for a first down. Marcus Tillman, ETS' trendy pick for Ole Miss Unsung Hero, lost containment.

-- 7:48: I scan the tube for other games. I notice that FSN Midwest elects to show the Cardinals rather than TCU-Texas. As both a Texan and a diehard college football fan, this pisses me off.

-- 7:49: Rucker run stops short of first down. Mizzou can't pick up first on 3rd-and-1. Crossett on to punt.

-- 7:51: Coffman downs the ball at the Ole Miss 9. Ole Miss has the ball and the momentum. I have a major anxiety attack.

-- 7:53: Kelly reports that Ole Miss and Missouri have combined for 978 yards of offense thus far. Somewhere, defensive enthusiasts are bawling.

-- 7:57: Double blow for MU: Shay Hodge reception gives Ole Miss a first down -AND- Pig Brown is shaken up on the play.

-- 7:58: Del Howard in to replace Pig Brown. To my knowledge, Howard has never won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. I miss Pig already.

-- 8:00: Green-Ellis breaks tackles to move the ball down inside the Mizzou 40. He now has 200-plus yards with that run.

-- 8:02: Ole Miss threatening at the Mizzou 25.

-- 8:03: Adams in shotgun on 3rd-and-6, throws bubble screen and Hardy Ricks snuffs out the play.

-- 8:04: Ole Miss goes for it on 4th down, and Adams throws incomplete. Pig Brown returns, and delivers "a lick" (according to Mike Kelly) to Shay Hodge. It's official. ETS has a man crush on Pig Brown. Mizzou takes over after a stalled 66-yard drive.

-- 8:06: Pistol formation iso play to Temple for a few yards. Brings up third down.

-- 8:07: Rucker in at QB, runs left and is stuffed. Offensive line blown up "by huge surge." Kelly calls it "a collapse." Crossett punt upcoming.

-- 8:09: TigerBoard is lighting up. Pinkel is being called out for being conservative and typical MU second half anxiety is running high.

-- 8:10: I'm told Mizzou Arena is proud to host Elton John. I'm too exasperated with this game to make a smartass or witty remark.

-- 8:14: MU gets the ball back after an Ole Miss three-and-out. I have little else to add, as I was on the phone updating a friend on the game at this point.

-- 8:15: Crowd begins to head for exits with 1:38 remaining in game. Mizzou punt upcoming after yet another three-and-out following a playaction draw by Daniel.

-- 8:17: Kelly: "You didn't expect it to be easy, but it is disconcerting the way Missouri lets teams back into things."

-- 8:19: Ole Miss driving. The game is no longer in doubt, but somewhere a gambling addict is pulling for Ole Miss to throw into the end zone and pull within 5-6 to cover the spread.

-- 8:20: Kelly says MU is now 17-7-1 against the SEC all-time. No comment from Les Miles yet about the SEC's supremacy.

-- 8:21: Justin Garrett intercepts a Seth Adams pass to put Mizzou in the win column. The Tigers will return home next week for the home opener against Western Michigan.

-- 8:22: I look over and see Virginia Tech and LSU are just about to kick off. I love college football Saturdays. I proclaim this out loud to no one in particular.

Ole Miss Live Blog - First Half

I'm glued to the radio like a Brooklyn Dodgers fan circa early 1900s, so I'm going to do my best to do some live blogging without any visual element here whatsoever... Feel free to drop in, refresh constantly, and interact via comments at the bottom. All times below are Central Daylight Time.

-- 5:00: Missouri loses coin toss. Ole Miss elects to receive. Mizzou without the ball on first possession.

-- 5:04: BenJarvus Green-Ellis already has two carries for 23 yards. Two first downs already for the Rebels.

-- 5:07: Mizzou forces Seth Adams to scramble on 3rd and long. Maclin fair catches punt a MU 9-yard line. Mizzou takes over for first drive.

-- 5:09: Just heard the first instance of two different things I expect a lot of this broadcast: an MU first down, as well as an in-game promo for Budweiser.

-- 5:13: Mike Kelly at his finest [paraphrased]: "Daniel throws deep over the middle, caught by Perry and no, dropped."

-- 5:15: Mizzou fails to convert on third down. The Tigers were 2-of-3 on third down for the drive. Crossett's punt bounces into end zone. Daniel goes 6-of-9 for 38 yards on the drive.

-- 5:21: Seems like a long commercial break for a game that isn't being televised...

-- 5:23: See above.

-- 5:25: Turns out KMOX made me miss an entire Ole Miss drive. Thanks guys!

-- 5:26: And now Missouri is punting. Isn't the lack of television awesome?

-- 5:29: Mike Kelly tells me to trust a local internet provider for high-speed service. Can the service ensure that KMOX doesn't skip over two minutes of football?

-- 5:34: The new weapon emerges: Martin "Mr. T-Ruck" Rucker breaks a tackle on a first down run. Kelly says an Ole Miss defender is hurt. Rucker pities the fool.


Photo credit Columbia Tribune

-- 5:39: Jeremy "X-factor" Maclin gets the ball on a reverse, then on a short pass from Daniel. The more Maclin, the better. Mizzou is inside the 10. Can they punch/finesse it in?

-- 5:44: First quarter ends. Missouri still knocking on doorstep. Couple of thoughts:
- Love Rucker running the ball
- Maclin may be the closest thing to Percy Harvin in the Big 12
- Mizzou already has 10 first downs, Daniel has already thrown 16 passes. What are the odds Mizzou finishes with 40 first downs and 64 pass attemps?
- Scoreless first HAS to favor Ole Miss.

-- 5:46: Will Franklin scores and "The Helicopter" has arrived. Mizzou goes 55 yards in 10 plays.

-- 5:52: Seth Adams third down scramble falls short of first down. Ole Miss offense is still on field, but radio cuts away. Does Ole Miss test its luck on fourth down?

-- 5:54: Ole Miss burned a timeout to review the spot. The spot was upheld and Mizzou receives the ball a the 27 after an Ole Miss punt.

-- 5:57: Two friends of mine check in from Oxford. I'm told the student section at Ole Miss is rather impressive. I trust this perspective because one of the aforementioned friends is a diehard Notre Dame fan.

-- 5:58: Above note includes fan involvement, football knowledge, and, of course, female attractiveness.

-- 5:59: My attention is being drawn more and more to Texas A&M-Fresno State. Fresno trails the Aggies 29-22, but is inside the Aggie 5 with :24 seconds left.

-- 6:01: My attention is back. Franklin burns Ole Miss DB Terrell Jackson deep for his second TD of the day. 14-0 Tigers.

-- 6:05: Kelly makes a good point. The Mizzou lead should help force the game into Seth Adams hands and away from Green-Ellis' legs.

-- UPSET WATCH: Fresno scores on 4th-and-goal with :05 seconds left. Fresno and Texas A&M tied at 29. Would a loss to Fresno mean there's no way the Aggies are ranked when they come to Columbia? Are you Tiger fans pulling for the Big 12 in this situation?

-- 6:08: Green-Ellis has already carried 10 times for 76 yards. Ole Miss first-and-goal at the MU 9. The Rebel offense finally seems awake.

-- 6:09: Van Alexander and Brock Christopher pursue Green-Ellis, force and recover a fumble. Kelly says Terrell came up with recovery. Big stop for Mizzou, especially if the Tigers turn it into points.

-- 6:11: Tony Temple busts a big run for 33 yards. I curb my enthusiasm about halfway between "Temple vs. Illinois" and "Temple vs. Oregon State."

-- 6:14: Kelly: "Caught, dropped by Franklin."

-- 6:15: T-Rucker: 40-yard reception for a TD! Missouri is embarassing the Rebel secondary. Rucker pities those fools (don't expect this to stop). Missouri went 91 yards in six plays in only 1:54.

-- UPDATE: Texas A&M up 3 in OT, but Fresno State is first-and-goal on its possession.

-- 6:19: I look back and Ole Miss is right outside of the Missouri red zone. Already?

-- 6:20: Green-Ellis runs down to the MU 9. He's carried 15 times for 110 yards.

-- 6:21: Pig Brown with consecutive tackles on 2nd and 3rd down. While Ole Miss ponders 4th down play, Kelly says announced attendance is over 50,000.

-- UPDATE: I know I'm going to get ripped apart for straying form MU coverage, but this Fresno-Texas A&M game is absolutely nuts. The officials just overturned a play they just upheld. A recovered fumble on the play should have ended the game, but a roughing the passer penalty kept the Bulldogs alive. Consider me captivated...

-- 6:25: Ole Miss going for it on 4th down. Ole Miss converts on a reverse after a missed tackle by Stryker Sulak.

-- 6:26: Shay Hodge receives the pass from Seth Adams on a slant for an Ole Miss touchdown with 1:09 remaining in the half. 71 yards in 8 plays taking 3:07 off the clock. Remember, Mizzou gets the ball back to begin the second half.

-- 6:28: Maclin's 30-yard return puts Mizzou on their own 45. The Tigers may be able to add some points before the end of the half. As I type, MU converts for first down.

-- 6:29: Coffman down to Ole Miss 21.

-- 6:30: Tigers go five-wide and Franklin gets out of bounds after an 11-yard gain for a first down.

-- 6:31: Pass complete to Maclin, MU timeout stops clock with seven seconds left. Check that, officials reset clock to nine seconds - enough time to take a shot at the endzone.

-- 6:32: Empty backfield, fade pattern: touchdown Mizzou! Coffman scores with :04 seconds left in the half, despite defensive pass interference. 54 yards in 8 plays for a 28-7 lead. Again, MU gets the ball back in the second half.

UPDATE: Fresno scores a touchdown in second OT to lead Texas A&M. The Aggies must score to force another OT. If Texas A&M loses, do you think Mizzou vaults into the Top 25 if they win impressively in Oxford?

-- 6:35: Halftime after a 28-point 2nd quarter by Missouri, tying a record for a Gary Pinkel Missouri team. The breakdown of the defense towards the end of the half may be a concern, but otherwise, things looking (er, sounding) excellent. Not to mention, the half only took about an hour and a half. Seems like it would be early second quarter if this was the Illinois game.

ETS Note: I'll be blogging from a new post for the second half. This one got long quickly.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ole Miss Preview

With gameday rolling around faster than you can say "a bully for Ol' Mizzou," I've taken a brief look at the Ole Miss Rebels before their date in Oxford this Saturday.

When Mizzou has the ball:

The Week One stories are almost too similar between both teams defenses. The Ole Miss defense was spotted a huge third quarter lead against Memphis (23 points, compared to the 24 Mizzou was spotted against Illinois) that the unit proceeded to nearly cough up. It wasn't until Martin Hankins pass on a two-point conversion attempt to tie fell incomplete that the Rebels escaped 1-0.

Depending on your view of defensive success, Ole Miss should either be condemned or congratulated for the efforts of its defensive unit against Memphis. The squad surrendered 467 yards of total offense, including 343 yards through the air and 30 first downs. If the Rebels let Martin Hankins and a Memphis offense that was 64th in the nation last year do this kind of damage, it may be a long day for the Ole Miss defense on Saturday when Mizzou's eighth-ranked offense from 2006 heads to Oxford.

Individually, only two Rebels - LB Ashlee Palmer and DL Greg Hardy - finished with double digit numbers in tackles. But the true gamebreaker was DB Dustin Mouzon, who turned in a Pig Brown-esque performance in the opener, finishing the game with two picks, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown (see below).

The biggest problem for the Missouri offense, at least one not mentioned above, could be sophomore end Marcus Tillman, a 6-4, 260-pound difference maker who accounted for two takeaways - a pick and a fumble recovery - against Memphis.

But Ole Miss is an SEC team, and never underestimate the speed of any SEC defense. When all is said and done though, I do believe Mizzou will pass with ease against Ole Miss. Expect more of the same four- and five-wide sets, as well as more outs, hooks, and bubble screens than the Rebels will know what to do with.

When Ole Miss has the ball:

At first glance, the Ole Miss QB situation seemed shaky at best, but QB Seth Adams was extremely effective in the win over Memphis. Adams completed 19 of his 30 attempts for 201 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Ed Orgeron and the Ole Miss coaches seem content to keep the reins on Adams, as his long completion of the day last Saturday went for only 23 yards. Adams can not single handedly beat the Tigers, but his ability to avoid mistakes can put them in one hell of a spot.

But the one man who CAN single handedly beat Mizzou is RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a 5-11, 225-pound back who Missouri was fortunate enough to contain last season. In Columbia in 2006, Green-Ellis got the ball 16 times for a total of 69 yards. Green-Ellis finished a yard shy of 1,000 in 2006, turning in 100-plus yard efforts against Memphis, Georgia, Vandy and Northwestern State last year. He carried 23 times for 79 yards last week, but the Missouri run defense appears ready to turn every opposing running back into the second coming of Barry Sanders.

Missouri's chances for an SEC road win may directly correlate to two things that were horribly absent against Illinois: the ability to stop the run, and the ability to wrap up and finish tackles. Ole Miss' offense itself turned in only 10 of Ole Miss' 23 points last week, with the other 13 coming as a result of a 0-yard blocked punt return and a 99-yard interception return. If Green-Ellis gets loose, Ole Miss could keep Mizzou's offense off the field and keep both team's offensive numbers down. But if Missouri gets ahead and the Rebels are forced to abandon the run, consider this one over.

Special teams:

Again, Wolfert can somewhat serve as the ultimate trump card. But even if Wolfert was average, at best, he may still be better than Ole Miss PK Joshua Shene, who missed a 28-yarder and an extra point last week. From a punting standpoint, Ole Miss P Christian Albarracian averaged 47.7 yards per kick last week, including dropping one of his three punts inside the twenty. He also kicked off and averaged 52.6 yards per kickoff.

Missouri's punting conundrum continues, however. Adam Crossett's ridiculously strong leg is once again being minimized by several different factors:
- Poor long snapping
- Lack of protection
- Poor blocking/playcalling between max protect and max coverage
- Inability to control the ball on short-range kicks

Intangibles, gut feelings and instincts:

Does this game have all the makings of a "Missouri's ego gets inflated and overlooks an underrated team" game? Let us count thy ways:
- Road game? Check
- BCS conference opponent? Check
- Decent running game? Check
- Opponent wanting revenge? Check
- Cautiously optimistic fan base? Check
- Missouri team with high expectations? Check

The Spread: The line, not the offense:

Lines have fluctuated between 5 and 6 points in Mizzou's favor on the road. To make things easy, we'll agree the line is set at Mizzou -5.5.

Not that ETS "condones" gambling or anything, but ETS says take Mizzou to win by more than 5.5 in Oxford.

The nominations:

Missouri MVP: Chase Daniel (Cop out answer? Hell yes, it is)
Ole Miss MVP: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Missouri Unsung Hero: Sean Weatherspoon
Ole Miss Unsung Hero: Marcus Tillman

Write it down (prediction time):

Missouri defeats Ole Miss, 31-17

OVER

Photos courtesy: ViewImages, Sarah Becking, Helmet Project

Thursday, September 6, 2007

For traveling Tiger fans...

Seth over at the Hotty Toddy Blog just sent me an email saying he's posted a guide to Ole Miss and Oxford.

For any fans headed down to SEC country this week, you can check out his post here.

Coming tomorrow: Ole Miss preview and in-depth predictions

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The M-I-Z Q&A: Ole Miss

Each week, Every True Son will seek out a blogger of Mizzou's upcoming opponent to exchange questions with regarding the upcoming matchup. This week, the "M-I-Z Q&A" turns to Seth from the Hotty Toddy Blog for a look at Ole Miss. My responses to his Missouri questions can be found here.



ETS: Much like Missouri, the Rebels got out to a big lead in their season opener and had to hold on for a win. What did you learn about your team, both good and bad, in that victory?

HTB: "It's hard to say what we learned from Saturday. It seems we used a very vanilla playbook and that we played conservatively. Our O-line and run game was disappointing for most Rebel fans while our QB played well. Our defense had have more interceptions in this game than all of last year. Still, I think we will get a better read of our team against Missouri."

ETS: Last season, Missouri's offensive success was dependent on neutralizing Patrick Willis. What playmakers on defense should Tiger fans keep an eye on?

HTB: "Dustin Mouzon. He was named SEC defensive player of the week. He had two interceptions, one a pick-6 for 99 yards. He also had 6 solo tackles and recovered a fumble on the Memphis 9 yard line."

ETS: I've seen several posts and articles talking about Ole Miss wanting revenge for last year. How much does last year's game in Columbia affect this year's game from a mentality standpoint?

HTB: "It's hard to say. I do believe the coaches will use last year's game to boost the rebel players. It was, by most accounts, our worst game. I think you will see a different Rebel team in Oxford this year."

ETS: How comfortable is Rebel Nation with the quarterback situation?



HTB: "We are not very comfortable with the QB situation but most of us feel better after last week. Seth Adams did quite well and made smart decisions."

ETS: Nearly every source I've seen rates The Grove as the best gameday atmosphere in the nation. What can Tiger fans who make the trip to Oxford expect? Any suggestions on places to go or things to see?

HTB: "I don't think I can explain the Grove and do it justice. You have to visit it to see why it is ranked as one of the top sporting events. Get to the Grove early. It will be an all day party. My favorite part of tailgating is the Band pep-rally in the Grove 1:15 minutes prior to the game. There are so many places to outstanding unique places to eat in Oxford. Just make your way to the square and take your pick."

ETS: What's your prediction

HTB: "Ole Miss 38, Mizzou 37 - Sorry I'm a homer"

Mouzon photo courtesy Associated Press. Adams photo courtesy Joseph Warner/Special to The Clarion-Ledger

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pinkel goes "FTP" on the MUPD

Just found this gem from Graham Watson's excellent Tiger Tracker blog for the STL P-D:

"There was little doubt that Pinkel was frustrated by his team’s performance. He even took some of that frustration out on a campus policeman who was ticketing cars, notably player’s cars, outside of the Missouri facility.

While there were no media outside to hear what Pinkel was saying to the officer, who ended up requesting backup (yeah, that’s no joke), players who were outside said Pinkel questioned whether the officer had anything better to do on Labor Day.

It was more humorous than anything. Even Pinkel got a decent laugh about it. The only one who didn’t think it was so funny was quarterback Chase Daniel, whose red truck was one of the first to get tagged.

The cop, to his credit, showed no mercy with his ticketing, even with the head football coach and starting quarterback talking to him from the curb.

Saturday’s win, similar to the incident with the policemen, was a humbling experience. It gave the Tigers an idea of where they need to be and what they need to do to be one of the top teams in the Big 12."


I find it highly amusing that the police called for backup when Pinkel went off. What I'd find even funnier is if the policeman used "the chart" to determine whether or not to give tickets. Hell, "the chart" is infallible for 2-point conversion calls, right?

Big 12 Round Table - Getting Personal

This week's Big 12 Round Table is being hosted by Jon over at Corn Nation. Keep an eye out for other Big 12 blogs and their respective responses.

1. What did you learn, if anything, about your team on opening weekend? More specifically, did you see anything that brought complete elation or utter disappointment?

-- To me, the game, as a whole, brought neither complete elation nor utter disappointment. Missouri's win over Illinois reinforced several concerns that were already raised about the Tigers. Personally, I learned that Mizzou has some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, notably linebackers Brock Christopher and Sean Weatherspoon, and of course, safety Pig Brown. The offense was again stout for the majority of the game across the majority of the field, but once again, there were major issues inside the red zone. The coaching and its effect on nearly blowing a huge lead had me thinking one thing during the Illini comeback: "Sun Bowl."
But individually, my "complete elation" moment was the Pig Brown fumble return, and my "utter disappointment" moment was the McGee touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage after the botched MU reverse.

2. 20 years from now, someone will ask you "Where Were You When Appalachian State beat Michigan?". Describe what you were doing at the time, your reaction.

-- During the moment that Ann Arbor took a nosedive into one, giant drinking-induced coma, I was touching the rafters in the boondocks of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, taking in my first game as a student at the University of Missouri. Before the game, there had been rumblings around fans that Appalachian was giving Michigan a run for its money. My friends and I continued to check our phones and the Edward Jones Dome scoreboard for updates. Then, early into the first quarter, someone in the section proclaimed "Appalachian State just beat Michigan, 34-32." I immediately thought, "even if we choke this game away, it won't be as bad as it is in Ann Arbor right now."

3. Given the big event of this past weekend, what's the worst you've ever felt about your team?

-- My history with Missouri is not as storied as a lot of my readers, or for that matter, a lot of my colleagues with their respective blogs. Thus, I'm going to keep it recent and narrow it down to a few choices from last year alone:
Option A) The Sun Bowl. The choke was indicative of all things Missouri, but I was not that depressed because I still felt the way Mizzou played in that game was semi-impressive for recruiting.
Option B) 2006 Nebraska game: I honestly felt like the match-ups last year (namely, Chase Daniel to Will Franklin deep vs. NU's shaky defensive backs) tilted heavily in Mizzou's favor. Then Pinkel and Co. decided not to exploit this match-up and I was stuck in "Wait 'til next year" mode.
Option C) The loss to Texas A&M. Missouri was undefeated and rolling entering College Station. The inevitable letdown started the trademark "Missouri slide."
Option D) Losing to Iowa State, which was accentuated by Pinkel's extension only a few days earlier. Pinkel had avoided the non-conference losses that plauged him, but he then showed he's still not immune to giving one away.
Personally, I'll go with a mix of options B and D.

4. Take a classic - like Homer's Odyssey, Lord of the Flies, Little Women, or, heck, even the latest Simpsons Movie and tell me how it relates to your team this season.

-- Maybe it's because I've had my head buried in it for a Humanities class for the last two weeks, but Mizzou football circa 2007 reminds me of The Iliad by Homer. Missouri's fate has been decided by the gods (to be forsaken and always fall JUST short), but even with the inevitability of death, history, and fate, the team is tempting the will of the gods to carve out a personal legacy and a place in history. There is no way to avoid death, but death can be cheated only if you can be remembered. How will this team be remembered? Only time will tell...

5. It wasn't just by accident you got here. Somewhere, some time, there was someone who influenced you to become a fan of your team. Tell that story.

-- In all honesty, there is no great story. I was not born in Missouri. I was not raised in Missouri. I am Texas-born and Texas-bred. I am the son of a graduate of the University of Alabama. I am the brother of a Texas A&M Aggie. There was potential for influence all around me, but, amid seas of burnt orange, maroon, and my father's crimson, I found my way to the black and gold. My college search began early in high school, as I searched out the world's greatest journalism school and found my way to Columbia. And, as a diehard fan of all things college sports, I began adopting the traditions, history and culture of Missouri athletics.

6. Give us your nominations for the offensive and defensive players of the week within the conference.

-- Offensive player of the week: Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray. Carrying 17 times for 88 yards and 5 touchdowns qualifies as one hell of a freshman debut, even if he did it against Southlake Carroll College, er, North Texas.
-- Defensive player of the week: Missouri DB Pig Brown. You'd be hard pressed to find a player with better stats in week one than Brown's five tackles, two fumble recoveries, one touchdown and one interception. And if you did, I'd find it hard to believe anyone did it at bigger times in the game than Pig, whose touchdown was a HUGE 14-point swing and whose interception sealed a victory.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Illinois Highlights

Illinois highlights, all thanks to Tiger Nation's video king, Zou Dave...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Well said...

Via the Trib's Joe Walljasper:

"The Tigers are not recommended to those with high blood pressure, anger-management issues or bladder-control problems. It might be wise to take your attention span elsewhere if you are prone to screaming things such as, 'Would it kill you to take a snap under center from the 1-inch line?' or 'Why would you go for a 2-point conversion now?' or 'Could you run a little clock with a 24-point third-quarter lead?'"


Preach, preacher...

The entire article can be found here.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

PIG!

Ladies and gentlemen, Pig Brown...



Now, that game one is in the books and Mizzou managed to avoid choking in historical fashion to Clemson Illinois, it's time for a little game I'm stealing from a radio station near my home, a game we like to call "Good, Bad, and Indifferent."

Just like a 102-yard fumble return, away we go:

GOOD:

-- Missouri pass offense vs. soft zone defenses. Holes in the zone defense against Mizzou's four- and five-wide opened up Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman ALL day.
-- Martin Rucker's day in general (10 rec., 87 yards)
-- The debut of Rucker under center in the de facto "jumbo" offense with him under the gun.
-- Covering the spread - not that we condone gambling or anything...
-- Confidence - Mizzou just looked like a team that expected to win, even though all signs pointed to choke towards the end of the game.
-- The healed knee of Jeremy Maclin.
-- Pig "expletive" Brown. I feel 100 percent confident saying he was the difference in the game, from his hustle on the fumble return to his awareness on the game-sealing pick.

BAD:

-- The hit by Hardy Ricks. After watching highlights and replays, there was no excuse for the helmet-to-helmet shot on Juice Williams. That said, that might be a blessing for Illinois, because Eddie McGee sure as hell looked more like a quarterback to me.
-- ANYTHING involving the word "run." The Mizzou running game was pathetic/nonexistent/embarassing. El Paso needs to see if Tony Temple left his game at the Sun Bowl. The gun zone read was completely ineffective today, with Chase showing the ball for what seemed like an eternity before Temple took it and danced around in the backfield. Mizzou's running plays are taking WAY too much time to develop. Plus, the lack of a running game speaks volumes to why Missouri continues to choke up leads (see: 2006 Sun Bowl)
-- Stopping the run. Surprise!
-- Playcalling: Why the hell do we run the reverse to Alexander at such an important point in the game? Why kill the momentum of a drive where all you need to do is maintain posession?
-- The red zone offense. One again, Missouri's inability to overpower and punch it in appears like it will be an ongoing problem throughout the season, and will likely cost Missouri at least one game in conference play.
-- The play of the centers and long snappers. At least five to ten snaps under the gun in the second half were either high or to the side of Chase Daniel. Much of Adam Crossett's struggles can be attributed to poor long snapping.
-- Officiating. The men in stripes were handing out free first downs like candy. The Illini got away with at least two delay of game calls on Illinois' final drives. How a review did not overturn the Daniel incomplete pass/fumble call still astounds me to this moment.
-- ADDENDUM: Poor tackling. I forgot to mention this earlier, but the "All About the Ball" mentality cost MU against the Illini. Too many arm tackles/strip attempts and a failure to wrap up could be a serious issue.
-- ADDENDUM: Lack of discipline/poor preparation resulting in several inexcusable penalties (read: too many men on the field). Thanks to TigerBoard poster Phlalum for bringing this back to my attention.

INDIFFERENT:

-- The debut of the Pistol formation, which did not help jumpstart a lifeless Mizzou running game.
-- The punting of Adam Crossett. Crossett seemed to lack control in close, although once again the strength of Crossett's leg was clearly evident.
-- 54 passes for Chase Daniel? Should we call ourselves Texas Tech North?
-- Lack of fan involvement from Missouri student section during the third quarter. The crowd seemed deflated/dead from the Alexander fumble up until Wolfert's field goal to push the Mizzou total to 40.
-- Jeff Wolfert. The kickoffs were rather solid, and he drilled his first two field goal tries. The last kick was tough, but if Wolfert has a 49-yarder to bury Nebraska and win the North, will we be as forgiving?

THE ETS MVP:
Pig Brown

Photo courtesy Sarah Becking at Becking.com

THE ETS UNSUNG HERO AWARD:
Jeremy Maclin

The Countdown Ends

Today...

It's time.



Photo courtesy Sarah Becking. More photos available at Becking.com