From the University of Missouri
TIGER NEWS & NOTES
Missouri Tigers (2-2) at Central Florida Knights (2-1)
Sept. 29, 2012 – Bright House Networks Stadium – Orlando, Fla.
KICKOFF: 11:05 a.m. (central time).
STADIUM: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323 - Natural Grass). Opened in 2007. UCF is 25-9 there alltime (1-0 in 2012), and they are 17-4 there since 2009.
RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), Howard Richards (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com (subscription only). It will also air live on Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 113) and XM Satellite Radio (Channel 199).
TV: FOX Sports Net. Ron Thulin (play-by-play), Shaun King (analyst), Desmond Purnell (sideline reporter), Kevin Patterson (producer).
RANKINGS (AP/USA): MU – None; UCF – None.
SERIES: This will be the first meeting between the schools.
Mizzou: Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 87-56 at MU (12th year) and 160-93-3 overall (22nd year). Pinkel is 0-0 vs. UCF and George O'Leary.
Central Florida: George O'Leary (New Hampshire, ‘69), 52-52 at UCF (9th year) and 104-85 overall (16th year). O'Leary is 0-0 vs. MU and Gary Pinkel.
The Missouri Tigers (2-2 overall in 2012) will hit the road for a second-straight week when they visit Orlando, Fla. – the home of Walt Disney World (whose namesake, Walt Disney, was a Marceline, Mo. native by the way), for a Saturday contest against the Central Florida Knights (2-1). Kickoff for the game is set for 11 a.m. central/12 p.m. eastern time, and it will be televised live by FOX Sports Net.
Mizzou won't have time to hit the amusement park, of course, as they're dialing in for a tough opponent on Saturday who will be sky high about hosting an SEC team for the first time in program history. The Tigers are also focused on correcting mistakes which led to a 31-10 loss last Saturday at 7th-ranked South Carolina.
Central Florida is coming off a bye-week which followed a 33-20 home win on Sept. 15th over Florida International. In that game, the Knights held a 23-0 halftime lead and cruised from there. The week prior, UCF played at 14th-ranked Ohio State, and stood tied with Buckeyes at 10-10 in the 2nd quarter, before OSU pulled away with 21 straight points on the way to a 31-16 win. The Knights opened their 2012 season with a 56-14 road win at Akron, thanks to a 28-point 2nd quarter and 4 forced turnovers.
TALE OF THE TAPE
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
349.00 [98th] Total Offense 389.67 [77th]
149.50 [76th] Rushing Offense 159.67 [66th]
6 TDs Rushing 5
199.50 [95th] Passing Offense 230.00 [60th]
120.41 [98th] Passing Efficiency 149.61 [33rd]
5 TDs Passing 9
29.00 [58th] Scoring Offense 35.00 [36th]
317.50 [23rd] Total Defense 347.33 [46th]
107.00 [24th] Rushing Defense 159.00 [67th]
6 TDs Allowed Rushing 5
210.50 [46th] Passing Defense 188.33 [32nd]
139.32 [88th] Pass Effic. Defense 110.85 [31st]
7 TDs Allowed Passing 4
25.50 [68th] Scoring Defense 21.67 [44th]
+1.75 [11th] Turnover Margin +0.67 [38th]
10 / 3 Fumbles/Lost 2 / 1
2 Interceptions Thrown 5
4 Interceptions Gained 2
23.55 [36th] Kickoff Return Avg. 18.50 [92nd]
23.18 [4th] Punt Return Avg. 16.00 [20th]
33.52 [103rd] Net Punting Avg. 40.08 [27th]
2.50 [T-34th] Sacks By 2.00 [T-58th]
2.00 [69th] Sacks Allowed 1.33 [39th]
28:52 [86th] Avg. Time of Poss. 31:51 [30th]
30.7% [107th] 3rd Down Conv. 53.6% [12th]
40.0% [T-79th] 4th Down Conv. 33.3% [T-84th]
opponents getting their rest
In what is surely just a scheduling oddity, the Central Florida game will mark the first of three straight opponents Mizzou will face who will play the Tigers after coming off of a bye week. UCF was off last week prior to this Saturday's game in Orlando, Fla.
Following that, Mizzou will return home for an Oct. 6th game against Vanderbilt. The Commodores played this past Saturday at Georgia (a 48-3 loss), but are off this Saturday. Similarly, Mizzou will play host to #1-ranked Alabama the following week (Oct. 13th), and as if the Crimson Tide wasn't strong enough on their own, ‘Bama will roll into Columbia with a full week of rest. Alabama plays at home against Ole Miss this Saturday and is off on Oct. 6th.
Only Hurricane Isaac prevented what would have been a fourth 2012 Mizzou opponent from facing MU after a bye week. Texas A&M was originally scheduled to host Mizzou on Nov. 24th after a bye week, but when Hurricane Isaac forced a postponement of the Aggies' 2012 season opener on Sept. 1st against Sam Houston State, that game was rescheduled for Nov. 17th.
time for a bounce back effort
If recent history is any indicator, then the Mizzou Tigers hope history repeats itself this Saturday. Of late, Mizzou has proven very resilient, and shown a key ability to avoid losing streaks. The Tigers have won four straight times (and 6 out of the last 7 times dating back to the 2010 season) following a defeat. That ability to get quickly back in the winners circle played a huge role in Mizzou's 8-5 season a year ago, as the Tigers rebounded to post wins four times after suffering a defeat. The only time they fell in 2011 on consecutive weeks was in two straight road games at #1 Oklahoma (38-28) and at #20 Kansas State (24-17).
Here's a look at Mizzou's recent history following a defeat:
SEASON – DATE – RESULT & FOLLOW-UP GAME RESULT
2012 – Sept. 8 – L, 41-20 vs. #7 Georgia; Sept. 15 – W, 24-20 vs. Arizona State
2011 – Nov. 5 – L, 42-39 at Baylor; Nov. 12 – W, 17-5 vs. #21 Texas
2011 – Oct. 22 – L, 45-24 at #6 Oklahoma State; Oct. 29 – W, 38-31 (OT) at #16 Texas A&M
2011 – Oct. 8 – L, 24-17 at #20 Kansas State; Oct. 15 – W, 52-17 vs. Iowa State
2011 – Sept. 24 – L, 38-28 at #1 Oklahoma; Oct. 8 – L, 24-17 at #20 Kansas State
2011 – Sept. 9 – L, 37-30 (OT) at Arizona State; Sept. 17 – W, 69-0 vs. Western Illinois
2010 – Nov. 6 – L, 24-17 at Texas Tech; Nov. 13 – W, 38-28 vs. Kansas State
Gamecocks use field position edge, stingy defense to key 31-10 win
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A huge field position disadvantage spelled too much to overcome, as the Missouri Tigers fell Saturday at 7th-ranked South Carolina, 31-10, to drop to 2-2 on the season, and 0-2 in SEC play.
The Gamecocks had seven first-half possessions, and four of them started at midfield or better, including three in the second quarter that they cashed in for touchdowns and a 21-3 halftime lead.
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw was virtually flawless, as he completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, while the stout Gamecock defense held Mizzou to just 255 yards of offense, and kept the Tigers out of the endzone until just :17 seconds remained in the game, when backup QB Corbin Berkstresser hit WR Marcus Lucas on a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Mizzou's defense staved off the first threat of the day, as Sheldon Richardson forced a fumble that Kenronte Walker covered on the Tiger 16-yardline in the first quarter. But the Tiger offense couldn't get any momentum going, running just 9 plays in the quarter, which ended in a scoreless tie.
The second quarter began with Mizzou's defense holding one more time with its backs against the wall. South Carolina had a 3rd-and-goal from the Tiger 1-yardline, but LB Donovan Bonner stopped Gamecock QB Connor Shaw for no gain, and on 4th-and-goal, Shaw was dropped for a loss of one yard by DE Kony Ealy.
A three-and-out ensued, however, and SC's Ace Sanders broke several tackles on a 49-yard punt return which took the ball to the Tiger 4-yardline. Two plays later, RB Marcus Lattimore scored from 2 yards out for a 7-0 Gamecock lead at the 11:08 mark. Less than one minute later, it stood 14-0, as South Carolina knocked the ball out of freshman TB Russell Hansbrough's grasp, with the Gamecocks recovering on the Tiger 37-yardline. A 36-yard pass on the first play took it to the Mizzou 1-yardline, and Lattimore plunged in for his second short TD run.
Mizzou quickened the pace offensively, going to its fastball attack, and finally got some traction. Late in the quarter, the Tigers drove from their 20-yardline to a 1st-and-goal at the Carolina 3. But the drive stalled, and MU had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett with just 1:20 left.
Just when it seemed like the Tigers had some momentum, a big special teams play by South Carolina struck again, as SC's Bruce Ellington returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to midfield. The Gamecocks converted the opportunity, as Shaw hit Sanders on a 23-yard TD pass with :24 seconds left for a deflating score which made it 21-3 at half.
Mizzou's offense started the second half slow, and eventually it was field position that proved troublesome again, as South Carolina took over midway through the quarter after a punt at the Tiger 47-yardline. Shaw led a 10-play drive which ended in his 2nd TD pass of the day and a 28-3 lead with 2:17 left in the third.
The Tigers drove to the Carolina 31-yardline early in the fourth quarter, but a 4th-and-1 attempt went awry when QB James Franklin bobbled the snap and got stuffed for no gain. The Gamecocks drove the other way for a field goal and a 31-3 lead.
With the outcome in hand, redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser came off the bench for MU's last drive, and he promptly led the Tigers downfield on an 11-play, 75-yard drive which ended in his 1-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Lucas (who ended with a career-high 9 catches for 78 yards) with :17 seconds left to account for the final score.
South Carolina's five scoring drives on the day covered only 4, 37, 50, 47, and 48 yards.
tiger schedule ranks as toughest in ncaa so far
According to the NCAA, there's not a team in the nation who has played as tough of an early-season schedule as the Missouri Tigers. When factoring in FBS opponents only, (and not including games against itself) Mizzou's 3 foes (Georgia, Arizona State, South Carolina) are a perfect 8-0. According to the NCAA measurements, Mizzou's future opponents have a combined record of 14-12.
Here's a look at the NCAA rankings for toughest schedule to date:
RANK SCHOOL RECORD
1. Mizzou 8-0
Fla. Atlantic 7-0
Oregon State 5-0
Florida State 4-0
10. Kentucky 7-1
field position has been key indicator of success
It's certainly only one facet of the game, but it's been a very key factor in Mizzou's last three games – field position. There has been a very distinct winner in the field position battle in the last three games, and the team which won that battle has gone on to win the game. Seven of MU's opponent's last nine TD drives have started at midfield or in Tiger territory, dating back to the Georgia game (4 by South Carolina, 1 by Arizona State, 2 by Georgia).
Of those last nine TD drives by Tiger opponents, their average starting point is the Mizzou 33-yardline. The breakdown includes: South Carolina's four TD drives started at the MU 4, 37, 50 and 47. Arizona State's three TD drives started at the ASU 41, the MU 36 and the ASU 34. Prior to that, Georgia's last two TD drives of the game started on the MU 5 and the MU 1 (after an interception and fumble, respectively).
Each of #7 South Carolina's four TD drives last Saturday started at midfield or better, including at the Tiger 4, 37, 50 and 47 yardlines. By contrast, Mizzou's first three drives of the game started at its own 14, 16 and 2 yardlines. The Tiger offense struggled against the stout Carolina defense to flip the field, and while the first quarter ended up scoreless thanks to a some great defensive play by Mizzou, the dam broke in the second quarter, when SC's average starting point on four possessions was the Mizzou 39-yardline (while Mizzou's was its own 17).
In its previous outing, Mizzou won the field position battle against Arizona State, as it converted five drives which began at midfield or better into 21 points, while the Sun Devils had only two drives start at midfield or better (turning those into 7 points).
The previous week saw Georgia own the high land, as the Bulldogs scored 20 of their 41 points off of five possessions which started at midfield or better, while the Tigers had only two drives start at midfield or better, and they were able to convert those into just three points.
Here's a recap of the field position:
• – Sept. 8 vs. #7 Georgia UGA MU
# of drives started at 50 or better: 5 2
# of points those drives converted to: 20 3
Avg. starting point, 2nd half: GA-48 MU-26
2nd half scoring: 32 10
• – Sept. 15 vs. Arizona State ASU MU
# of drives started at 50 or better: 2 5
# of points those drives converted to: 7 21
Avg. starting point, 1st half: ASU-24 MU-45
1st half scoring: 7 17
• – Sept. 22 at #7 South Carolina SC MU
# of drives started at 50 or better: 5 0
# of points those drives converted to: 28 0
Avg. starting point, 2nd quarter: MU-39 MU-17
2nd quarter scoring: 21 3
big shel among top d-line producers in the sec
Junior DT Sheldon Richardson was already playing at a high level this season, but he seemingly took his game to another level the last couple of weeks. Richardson was a disruptive force last Saturday at South Carolina, as he was in on virtually every defensive play in the 1st quarter. First, he had a QB hurry which forced what proved to be the only pass incompletion of the day by Carolina's Connor Shaw. Then he sacked Shaw, and on the very next play forced a fumble after a completed pass to give the Tigers the ball back on their own 16-yardline. He added another tackle in the quarter, and ended the day with a 7-tackle outing.
That was a follow-up performance to a big game Richardson had the previous week against Arizona State, when he was a big part of Mizzou's solid defensive effort in a 24-20 win over the Sun Devils. In that game, Richardson notched a career-high 9 tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-QB sack thrown in the mix, to go with 1 QB hurry as well on a night when it seemed he was either in on, or influenced every play.
Mizzou's defense held Arizona State to 236 yards and 34 points below their average offensive output, as the Sun Devils entered the game averaging 532.0 yards and 54.0 points a contest. Richardson's effort was a big reason why the Tigers held ASU to just 296 yards of total offense and 20 points.
With 24 tackles through 4 games, Richardson is amazingly Mizzou's 2nd-leading tackler, despite being a defensive tackle. He also ranks 1st in the SEC among defensive linemen, with Damontre Moore of Texas A&M having the next most (22 tackles in 3 games).
wilson leads ncaa in forced fumbles
Take a poll among members of the Missouri Tiger team, and you'll likely get a near unanimous vote that says junior LB Andrew Wilson is the hardest hitter on the team. Wilson has been especially good at popping the ball loose against opposing ball carriers, as he has forced a fumble in each of Mizzou's first four games of the 2012 season, and his per-game average of 1.00 forced fumbles per game is currently tied for tops in the nation. Here's a look at that category:
RK PLAYER, SCHOOL FF/GAME
1. Andrew Wilson, Mizzou 1.00
Jarvis Jones, Georgia 1.00
Nate Smith, Temple 1.00
4. Adam Davis, Kansas St. .75
Calvin Pryor, Louisville .75
Damon Ogburn, San Jose St. .75
Donovan Bonner, Mizzou .75
Dating back to last season, Wilson has now forced a fumble in five consecutive games. He's coming off a 4-tackle outing at #7 South Carolina, which included a half-QB sack to go with his fumble. Through 4 games, Wilson ranks 3rd on the squad with 22 tackles.
Against Arizona State, Wilson tied for the team lead with 9 tackles, including 8 of the solo variety. He also forced a fumble which was recovered by the Tigers. Wilson, who was MU's leading tackler in 2011 (98 tackles in 13 games), is the son of former Tiger standout LB Jay Wilson, who lettered from 1980-83 (All-Big Eight in ‘83), and who left MU holding the school's career tackles record, with 323 (he now ranks 12th on the list).
bonner party involves devouring the ball
Junior LB Donovan Bonner is enjoying a very productive start to the 2012 season. Despite not making a start yet this year, through 4 games, he ranks 4th on the team with 18 tackles. But he's provided a much bigger impact than just stopping the opposition – he's getting the ball back for the Tiger offense. Bonner has forced 3 fumbles (a total which is 2nd on the team, and ranks him 4th in the NCAA, per the chart above), and he's also added an interception to the ledger.
Dating back to last season, Bonner has now forced a fumble in 4 of his last 6 games, and his INT this season against Georgia makes him responsible for 5 turnovers in those 6 games. His 18 tackles this season is already close to eclipsing his career total of 22 coming into the year. He made 9 stops as a true freshman in 2009, and after missing the 2010 season due to a knee injury, he made 13 stops (and forced 2 fumbles) in 2011.
Bonner and Andrew Wilson have combined for 7 forced fumbles on the year. The other 2 forced have been by Sheldon Richardson and Kony Ealy. Mizzou has been able to pounce on 8 of those loose balls, and that ranks the Tigers 2nd in the nation, behind only Louisiana Tech, who is first with 9 recovered fumbles. Here's a look:
RK SCHOOL FUMBLES REC.
1. Louisiana Tech 9
2. Mizzou 8
3. Kansas 7
5. 8 Tied With 6
and now for something completely different...
Some random news and notes to catch you up on Tiger Football:
• – Junior WR Marcus Lucas leads the Tigers with 21 receptions, 222 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns so far in 2012. That's no big surprise for those who follow the program, as many expected the 6-foot-5, 215-pound receiver to have the potential for a breakout year. He showed in 2011, when he caught 23 passes for 414 yards and 5 TDs, that he had the ability to be an impact player. Lucas, whose mother Monique, was a women's basketball letterwinner at Mizzou from 1986-89, was one of the bright spots in a tough offensive day last Saturday in MU's 31-10 loss at #7 South Carolina. Lucas led the team with a career-high 8 catches for 69 yards and a TD which came from 1-yard out with :17 seconds left in the game for MU's sole TD. Lucas enters play this Saturday ranked 5th in the SEC with his 5.50 receptions per game average...
• – Senior TB Kendial Lawrence didn't post eye-popping numbers at South Carolina, but his 67 yards rushing on 11 carries (6.1 average) wasn't bad at all, considering the fact that the Gamecocks came into the game allowing just 1.6 yards per rush. Carolina ranked 5th nationally in rushing defense coming into the game, having allowed a total of 159 yards on 102 carries, for an average of just 53.00 rushing yards per game. The Tigers didn't run roughshod exactly, but still managed to more than double that average output, as they gained 109 net yards on 32 carries (3.4 avg.). Lawrence had a 28-yard run on the day which was a season long against Carolina. Through 4 games, Lawrence leads MU with 291 rushing yards on 45 carries (for a solid per-carry average of 6.5 yards) and 4 TDs...
• – Mizzou won the turnover battle by a 2-1 margin at South Carolina. The Tiger defense forced 2 Gamecock fumbles, recovering them both (and the offense had only one giveaway), and Mizzou now boasts a turnover margin ratio of +1.75 per game, which ranks them 3rd in the SEC and 11th in the nation…
mizzou has 12th-most wins in the nation since 2007
There's no question that Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his Mizzou Football program has elevated itself to among the nation's elite. With its 10-win season in 2010, MU won its 40th game since 2007, good for an average of 10 per year during the four-year stretch.
Including a 2-2 start to the 2012 season, MU's 50 wins since 2007 ranks as 12th-most in the nation (among BCS automatic qualifying conferences). Here's a look at the win totals among the nation's best during that time frame (through games of Sept. 22nd):
MOST WINS IN THE NATION, 2007-PRESENT (BCS AQ Conferences Only)
School 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
1. Alabama 7 12 14 10 12 4 59
2. LSU 12 8 9 11 13 4 57
Oregon 9 10 10 12 12 4 57
4. Virginia Tech 11 10 10 11 11 3 56
5. Oklahoma 11 12 8 12 10 2 55
6. Florida 9 13 13 8 7 4 54
Ohio State 11 10 11 12 6 4 54
8. USC 11 12 9 8 10 3 53
9. Texas 10 12 13 5 8 3 51
Wisconsin 9 7 10 11 11 3 51
West Virginia 11 9 9 9 10 3 51
12.Missouri 12 10 8 10 8 2 50
Oklahoma St. 7 9 9 11 12 2 50
Non BCS-AQ League Schools:
Boise St. 10 12 14 12 12 2 62
TCU 8 11 12 13 11 3 58
Utah 9 13 10 10 8 2 52
BYU 11 10 11 7 10 2 51
NOTE – Utah & TCU are not listed among BCS Conferences, due to being in a non-BCS AQ league prior to 2012.
mizzou holds off late sun devil rally
Mizzou improved to 2-1 on the season Sept. 15th, thanks to a 24-20 win over previously unbeaten Arizona State. The Tigers got some late heroics from its defense, who twice turned ASU away in the final four minutes in the MU endzone while clinging to a 24-20 lead – one on a 4th-&-goal pass that was batted away with 3:36 left, and next on an interception in the endzone with :36 seconds left to preserve the win. Both of those game-savers were made by senior SS Kenronte Walker.
In a continuing show of enthusiasm by Tiger fans for Mizzou's move to the Southeastern Conference, the ASU game was played before a second-straight sellout crowd of 71,004 – that marked the first sellout for a non-conference game at MU's Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field since 1984 (Notre Dame).
It appeared early on that Mizzou might enjoy a more comfortable win against the Sun Devils, as the Tigers scored twice in their first three possessions on the way to a quick 10-0 lead. The edge grew to 17-0 late in the 2nd quarter before ASU got on the scoreboard with a TD just before half to cut into the Tiger lead. Mizzou would go on to post a 24-7 lead, which held until the 4th quarter, when the Sun Devils mounted a rally.
The Tigers' win over ASU was even more impressive given the fact that they were playing without starting QB James Franklin, who was unable to play due to soreness in his right (throwing) shoulder. Franklin sustained an inflamed bursa sac in his shoulder in the previous week's game against Georgia, and was a game-time decision against ASU. After going through pre-game warmups, it was decided that he couldn't go, and that thrust redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser into his first collegiate start.
It was the first missed start for a Tiger QB since 2001 – Gary Pinkel's first year as Mizzou's head coach.
walker preserves ASU win with late heroics - wins sec defensive award
Senior SS Kenronte Walker cemented his name in the hearts of Tiger fans late in the Arizona State game, when he made two of the biggest defensive plays possible in MU's own endzone, on consecutive late-game possessions to preserve Mizzou's 24-20 win over previously unbeaten ASU. His first big play came when he broke up a 4th-down pass in the endzone with 3:36 to play to deny the Sun Devils the lead after they drove to Tiger 1-yardline. His deflection on 4th down in the endzone came on a 4th-and-goal from the MU 3-yardline.
Next, after Mizzou was forced to punt clinging to its 24-20 lead, the Sun Devils took over on the Tiger 21-yardline with just 1:58 to play. On 3rd-and-9 from the MU 20-yardline, Walker broke to the right and snagged Taylor Kelly's pass in the MU endzone for his first career interception with :38 seconds left. He returned the ball 49 yards before going out of bounds, and the Tigers ran out the clock on offense to lock up the victory.
Walker ended the night with 2 tackles, in addition to his endzone heroics, and on the following Monday morning, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. After a 5-tackle game at South Carolina (with 1 TFL and a fumble recovery), he's got 15 tackles through 4 games this season, after he posted 44 tackles in 13 games (4 starts) a year ago in his first year on the field for the Tigers.
With a tip of the proverbial cap to resident MU historian Tom Orf, Walker's game-clinching INT against ASU was the 7th time in the Pinkel era a Tiger has intercepted a pass to effectively end a game in the 4th quarter with MU holding a 7-point lead or less.
starts and finishes
Mizzou has come out of the lockerroom ready to play each week, as their 38-0 1st-quarter scoring margin would attest to through 4 games. The Tigers are one of 10 schools to not allow a 1st-quarter score to this point. On the flip side, the Tigers are looking to turn around a trend that has seen them get outscored by a 40-21 margin in the 4th quarter so far this season.
The Tigers did outscore South Carolina by a 7-3 margin in the 4th quarter, but the previous two weeks had Georgia outscoring Mizzou 17-0 in the 4th quarter to turn what was a 24-20 UGA lead into a 41-20 Bulldog win (thanks to a pair of MU turnovers inside their own 5-yardline), followed by the next week, when Arizona State outscored MU 13-0 in the final stanza to cut Mizzou's 24-7 lead to 24-20 and turn a comfortable lead into a nailbiter down the stretch.
The 4th-quarter issues is a stark contrast to the 2011 season, when Mizzou was one of the nation's top teams in the final 15 minutes – MU outscored 13 opponents by a 143-to-59 margin in 2011, and three times rallied from double-digit 4th-quarter deficits to win two games, while losing a third in overtime. The 143 4th-quarter points was 3rd-most in the NCAA in 2011, trailing only Houston (168 in 14 games) and Toledo (156 in 13 games).
This Saturday's opponent, Central Florida, has only allowed 7 1st quarter points themselves, and the Knights have outscored their three opponents in the first half so far by a whopping 68-17 margin.
the o-line isn't exactly who we thought they'd be
To borrow liberally from one of the great sports quotes/rants of alltime, the Tiger offensive line isn't exactly who we thought they'd be going into the season. With senior co-captain LT Elvis Fisher out for several weeks due to a sprained right knee (sustained against Georgia), that prompted some wholesale changes in the trenches.
In addition to missing starting QB James Franklin against Arizona State (the first time a Tiger starting QB has missed a game since 2001), the Tiger offensive line was a reshuffled unit, as only two starters took the field who were expected to be starters in the pre-season – and they were both at a positions they originally weren't slated to play!. With Fisher out, and with senior Jack Meiners questionable due to a sprained knee, redshirt freshman Brad McNulty made his first career start at center against ASU. That kicked Mitch Morse out to RT, where he replaced Justin Britt, who slid to LT to replace the absent Fisher. Meiners was able to return to the lineup last Saturday at S. Carolina...
o MU's offensive line was supposed to look like this coming into the year:
• LT – Elvis Fisher – 6th-year senior, 40 career starts (OUT – knee)
• LG – Travis Ruth – 5th-year senior, 7 career starts (OUT – tricep)
• C – Mitch Morse – Redshirt soph., 0 career starts
• RG – Jack Meiners – 4th-year senior, 6 career starts (Injured – knee)
• RT – Justin Britt – 4th-year junior, 13 career starts
o The Tiger starting line looked like this last Saturday (starting numbers coming into the year):
• LT – Justin Britt – 4th-year junior, 13 career starts
• LG – Evan Boehm – True freshman, 0 career starts
• C – Mitch Morse – Redshirt soph., 0 career starts
• RG – Max Copeland – Redshirt junior, former walk-on, 0 career starts
• RT – Jack Meiners – 4th-year senior, 6 career starts
defense clamping down out of the lockerroom
Mizzou's defense, which enters Saturday's game against UCF ranked 23rd in the NCAA in total defense (317.50 avg. yds. allowed), has been outstanding thru four games coming out of the lockerroom. Not only have MU's four opponents not scored on their initial series of the 1st half and 2nd half, in those eight initial series, MU foes have a grand total of just 6 1st downs, and a net total of 109 yards! Here's a look:
• 1st Q vs. SELA – 2 plays, (-2 yds), 0:38 TOP (Ended w/MU interception)
• 3rd Q vs. SELA – 2 plays, 2 yds, 0:17 TOP (Ended w/MU fumble recovery)
• 1st Q vs. Georgia – 3 plays, (-12 yds), 2:17 TOP (Ended w/punt)
• NOTE - This UGA possession started on the MU 37-yardline
• 3rd Q vs. Georgia – 3 plays, (-7 yds), 2:24 TOP (Ended w/punt)
• 1st Q vs. ASU – 4 plays, 28 yds, 1:21 TOP (Ended w/punt)
• 3rd Q vs. ASU – 6 plays, 20 yds, 3:07 TOP (Ended w/punt)
• 1st Q at S. Carolina – 4 plays, 27 yds, 1:50 TOP (Ended w/punt)
• 3rd Q at S. Carolina – 6 plays, 53 yds, 3:22 TOP (Ended w/fumble recovery)
tiger defense holding its own
Mizzou's defense has played very well through four games in 2012, as it has held opponents under their season averages in most every category. Against FBS foes, the only category below which stands out is Georgia's point total – but keep in mind the Bulldogs had only 27 points until two MU turnovers late in the game gave UGA possession on the MU 1-yardline and the MU 5-yardline, leading to 14 points.
Here's a look at how Mizzou's defense has held up its end of the bargain so far, when compared to FBS opponents updated offensive averages thus far:
MIZZOU DEFENSIVE COMPARISONS TO OPPONENT AVERAGES (FBS OPPONENTS ONLY)
Current vs. Current vs. Current vs. Current vs.
Opponent Rush Avg. MU Pass Avg. MU Tot. Off. Avg. MU Pts. Avg. MU
Georgia 242.50 113 287.50 242 530.00 355 47.50 41
Arizona State 187.50 113 280.50 183 468.00 296 41.25 20
at S. Carolina 165.75 144 259.50 252 424.25 396 36.25 31
gary pinkel is 9th-winningest active fbs coach with 160 wins
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel stands ranked as the 9th-winningest active coach in the NCAA FBS ranks, with his 160 career wins (160-93-3 overall). Pinkel, in his 12th season at Mizzou, stands 87-56 overall at MU, while he went 73-37-3 in 10 seasons at Toledo (1991-2000). Here's a rundown of the winningest active coaches, based on win totals (through games of Sept. 22nd)...
WINNINGEST ACTIVE FBS HEAD COACHES
Coach, School Yrs. W L T Pct.
1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech 31 254 121 4 .676
2. Mack Brown, Texas 29 230 113 1 .670
3. Chris Ault, Nevada 27 228 104 1 .686
4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 23 201 75 2 .727
5. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame 22 191 67 2 .739
6. Mike Price, UTEP 31 175 177 0 .497
7. Larry Blakeney, Troy 22 166 92 1 .639
8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State 21 162 83 1 .661
9. Gary Pinkel, Mizzou 22 160 93 3 .631
10.Paul Pasqualoni, UCONN 21 148 84 1 .637
pinkel has third-most wins in mizzou history
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 12th season at MU (22nd overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 160-93-3 (63.1%).
Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 65-31 (67.7%) over the past 7+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, has a 12-year record in Columbia of 87-56 (60.8%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 59-26 in his last 85 games overall (69.4%). MU's win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 87. The win over Kansas in 2010 was the 150th of his career.
Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.
Here's a quick look at the top winning coaches in MU history...
MIZZOU COACHING WINS LEADERS
Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6
Gary Pinkel 87 12 (2001-Present) 87-56 .608 8
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5
In 2007, Pinkel guided the Tigers from unranked in the pre-season to a team which won a school-record 12 games and a final ranking of #4 in the Associated Press Top-25. Mizzou ascended to #1 in the BCS rankings following the regular season, and stood just one half away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game (before Oklahoma pulled away from a halftime tie to win the Big 12 title game). For his efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007, and his 7 bowl games is an MU record
Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 8 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011), with those representing 8 of MU's 10 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007, 2008 and 2010 represent the only football conference titles of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown. In April of 2011, Pinkel agreed to a two-year contract extension, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season.
tigers went toe-to-toe with #7 georgia; late mistakes prove costly
Sept. 8th was an historic occasion, as the Missouri Tigers played host to the 7th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in what was Mizzou's first-ever SEC conference game. A frenzied sellout crowd of 71,004 at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field was on hand and provided an energy perhaps never seen in Columbia, and they were treated to a heck of a ballgame, despite the final score that read Georgia 41, Mizzou 20.
Don't let the score fool you, the outcome of the game was in doubt until a pair of MU turnovers in the final 7:33 of the game (both caused by UGA's star LB Jarvis Jones) gave Georgia the ball at the MU 1-yardline and the MU 5-yardline. Those miscues turned into a pair of short TD runs for the ‘Dawgs, and they stretched a tenuous 27-20 lead into the final margin.
Prior to that, the Tigers more than held their own, and appeared poised to make a big statement in their SEC debut. Mizzou never trailed until the 0:51 mark of the third quarter, and had the ball three times in the 4th quarter while trailing by just one score. After a scoreless opening period which saw both defenses clamp down, the Tigers drew first blood, converting a Donovan Bonner interception of Aaron Murray into a 38-yard Andrew Baggett field goal – his first career three-pointer – for a 3-0 lead at the 12:07 mark of the 2nd quarter.
Georgia wouldn't lead until only :51 seconds remained in the 3rd quarter, when Murray hit Marlon Brown for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 24-20 in favor of the ‘Dawgs.
In between, the Tigers traded blows, landing two big ones by QB James Franklin. The junior signal caller found WR Marcus Lucas over the middle for a 41-yard TD pass with 1:31 left in the 2nd quarter to put the Tigers up, 10-3. Mizzou's defense, which held Georgia off repeatedly in the first half, finally buckled a bit, as the Bulldogs got a quick score right back. Murray hit Marlon Brown on a 2-yard TD pass with just 0:30 seconds left in the 1st half to draw UGA to within 10-9. That's the way the score stayed at half, however, as Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan was wide right with the point after try (just five minutes after he drilled a 52-yard field goal).
Things got even better for the Tigers early in the 2nd half, as the defense forced a punt on Georgia's initial series, followed by another long strike by the offense. Franklin floated a perfectly-placed ball down the left seam to lanky speedster WR L'Damian Washington, and Washington caught the ball in stride behind the defense and raced untouched 69 yards for a touchdown which gave Mizzou a 17-9 lead with 11:48 left in the 3rd.
With Memorial Stadium about to explode in excitement, the veteran Bulldogs responded once again, as they took their ensuing series for a 12-play, 75-yard drive which culminated in the 2nd of Murray's 3 passing touchdowns, this one a 7-yard strike to Tavarres King with 7:27 left in the 3rd. A successful 2-point conversion tied the game.
Franklin led the Tigers right back downfield, reaching the Bulldog 7-yardline, before the drive stalled. Baggett nailed a 25-yard field goal with 2:39 left in the 3rd quarter to give MU back the lead, at 20-17. For the third time on the night, however, Georgia's offense answered a Tiger score, and this one – Murray-to-Brown for 11 yards – gave them their first lead, at 24-20.
Mizzou tried some trickery after its next series stalled, but P Trey Barrow was stopped for a 3-yard gain on a fake punt on a 4th-and-11 from the MU 35, and the Bulldogs converted that into a field goal and a 27-20 lead.
After the teams traded punts, the Tigers took over on their 12-yardline with 8:23 to play, just one more long strike away from tying the game. But it wasn't to be, as Georgia's Jones picked off Franklin over the middle, returning the interception to the Tiger 1-yardline. After Georgia punched it in for a score and a 34-20 lead, Jones sacked Franklin on MU's ensuing possession, jarring the ball loose, with the Bulldogs taking over on the Tiger 5-yardline. Three plays later, another short Georgia TD run sealed the deal.
The Tiger mistakes late in the game overshadowed what was a gritty performance in their first-ever SEC contest. After Mizzou took its last lead at 20-17 late in the third, Georgia rode its offense and defense to 24 unanswered points to leave Columbia with the victory.
mizzou is ncaa's alltime overtime king
If it seems like Mizzou has been involved in a lot of overtime games, well, you're not crazy, because the Tigers have played in more OT games than any school since the rule was put in place for the 1995 bowl season.
The Tigers played 2 overtime affairs in 2011, and after its thrilling comeback 38-31 OT win at #16 Texas A&M, Mizzou went 1-1 on the year in overtime games. Coupled with Mizzou's OT game at Arizona State (won by the Sun Devils, 37-30), Mizzou has now played 14 overtime games, which is most in NCAA history, through games of Sept. 22nd. Schools next on the list with 13 overtime games include LSU (8-5), Fresno State (5-8), North Carolina State (8-5), Texas A&M (7-6), Pittsburgh (6-7), SMU (3-10) and Syracuse (7-6).
More importantly, when Mizzou goes to overtime, more often than not it comes out on the winning side. Mizzou owns 10 OT wins alltime, which is the most in FBS history entering this weekend (tied with Tennessee, who is 10-2 alltime). The Tigers had won five straight OT games until last year's OT defeat at Arizona State.
Here's a quick glance at MU's overtime history:
Year Opponent (Rank) Result #OTs
1996 Oklahoma State W, 35-28 OT
1996 at Baylor W, 49-42 3-OT
1997 at Oklahoma State (12) W, 51-50 2-OT
1997 Nebraska (1) L, 45-38 OT
1999 at Colorado L, 46-39 OT
2001 at Oklahoma State W, 41-38 3-OT
2002 Colorado (18) L, 42-35 OT
2002 at Texas A&M W, 33-27 2-OT
2003 Middle Tennessee State W, 41-40 OT
2004 at Iowa State W, 17-14 OT
2005 Iowa State W, 27-24 OT
2008 Northwestern (22) W, 30-23 OT
2011 Arizona State (23) L, 37-30 OT
2011 at Texas A&M (16) W, 38-31 OT
Interestingly, MU Head Coach Gary Pinkel is credited with winning the very first overtime game ever played in Division I history, when his Toledo Rockets beat Nevada, 40-37, in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl. The overtime rule was put into effect for that bowl season, and has been in use ever since.
Pinkel is now 9-2 alltime in his career in overtime games, including 7-2 at Mizzou.
NCAA OVERTIME LEADERS
Thru Games of 9/22/12
Games Schools Record
14 Mizzou 10-4
13 LSU 8-5
13 North Carolina St. 8-5
13 Syracuse 7-6
13 Texas A&M 7-6
13 Pittsburgh 6-7
13 Fresno State 5-8
13 SMU 3-10
12 Tennessee 10-2
12 Arkansas 9-3
12 Oregon 8-4
12 Auburn 7-5
12 Utah 7-5
12 Mississippi 6-6
12 East Carolina 6-6
12 TCU 5-7
12 Alabama 4-8
12 Washington St. 4-8
Since going to the spread offensive attack prior to the 2005 season, the Tigers built a reputation for having one of the more potent passing games in the country – thanks to the passing abilities of former star QBs Chase Daniel (now with the NFL's New Orleans Saints) and Blaine Gabbert (the starter for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars).
Mizzou's offense maintained its productivity in 2011, but did things a little differently. James Franklin's run-pass dual threat, coupled with a breakout season from TB Henry Josey, helped give Mizzou one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the country. In 13 games in 2011 the Tigers totaled 3,172 yards rushing and 3,010 yards passing.
Here's a look at the yardage total for Mizzou each season since going to the spread (w/per game average and NCAA ranking in parentheses):
Year Rushing Passing Total Off.
2005 2,463 (205.3 - 17th) 2,694 (224.5 - 53rd) 5,157 (429.8 - 24th)
2006 1,943 (149.5 - 46th) 3,590 (276.2 - 10th) 5,533 (425.7 - 8th)
2007 2,467 (176.2 - 38th) 4,397 (314.1 - 9th) 6,864 (490.3 - 5th)
2008 2,153 (153.8 - 52nd) 4,625 (330.4 - 4th) 6,778 (484.2 - 8th)
2009 1,651 (127.0 - 85th) 3,711 (285.5 - 14th) 5,362 (412.5 - 32nd)
2010 2,033 (162.9 - 48th) 3,292 (238.2 - 43rd) 5,325 (401.1 - 45th)
2011 3,172 (244.0 - 9th) 3,010 (231.5 - 64th) 6,182 (475.5 - 12th)
2012 598 (149.5 - 76th) 798 (199.5 - 95th) 1,396 (349.0 - 98th)
franklin back for the attack
Junior QB James Franklin is back under center to lead the Missouri spread offensive attack. In his first year as a starter, Franklin helped lead the Tigers to an 8-5 season in 2011, and he did it dynamically, establishing himself as one of the nation's top dual-threat QBs. Franklin finished his initial year as a starter ranked 15th in the NCAA in total offense with just under 4,000 yards (3,846 for an average of 295.85 per game). He accounted for 36 touchdowns (21 passing / 15 rushing), which ranked as the 3rd-best season in MU history. He just missed out on the rare 3,000/1,000 achievement in 2011, as he threw for 2,865 yards and ran for 981 more. Despite a shoulder injury in the spring (labrum tear) which required surgery, Franklin showed no ill effects once fall camp rolled around this August, as he was 18-of-22 passing for 228 yards in the first major fall scrimmage.
Franklin had a solid, if unspectacular, 2012 debut, as he helped lead the Tigers to a 62-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana. His numbers weren't eye-popping, but he still took care of business in the process, as he accounted for 170 yards of total offense (131 passing / 39 rushing) on the night. Franklin ended 13-of-21 passing with 1 TD and no turnovers.
Against Georgia, MU saw 294 yards of total offense in production by Franklin in the 41-20 loss to Georgia that was deceptive in the final margin. Franklin threw for 269 yards, on 25-of-41 passing, and had two long TD passes, of 41 yards to WR Marcus Lucas, and another covering 69 yards to WR L'Damian Washington, the latter of which gave MU a 17-9 lead in the 4th quarter.
According to resident MU historian Tom Orf, the pair of 40-yard TD passes marked only the 12th time in MU history that a Tiger QB has achieved such a feat. The last time was in 2009 (Blaine Gabbert at Iowa State). Gabbert has the most of any Tiger QB, with 3 games of 2 TD passes of 40 yards or more. Chase Daniel and Paul Christman both did the feat twice in their illustrious careers.
Franklin was unable to play in MU's 24-20 win over Arizona State, due to an inflamed bursa sac in his right shoulder, something which happened in the Georgia contest. He had hoped to play versus the Sun Devils, and went through pre-game warm ups, but determined the shoulder was too painful to play.
He returned to the lineup last Saturday at #7 South Carolina, and the stingy Gamecock defense held him to just 98 yards of total offense (a career low as a starting QB), as he finished the game 11-of-18 passing for 92 yards, while he was held to just 6 net rushing yards on 15 attempts.
MAKING SOME QB COMPARISONS
After winning 10 games 3 times in 4 seasons from 2007-10, expectations coming into the 2011 season were understandably very high for the Missouri Tigers, despite an offense which featured a 1st-year starting quarterback in true sophomore James Franklin. While each of MU's previous 3 starting quarterbacks are now playing in the NFL, it is interesting to take a look at comparisons of Franklin's 1st year to the likes of Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert. The numbers show that he stacked up very well, indeed.
Here's the rundown:
1st-YEAR STARTERS UNDER GARY PINKEL
Tiger Record C-A-Int. Pct. Yds. TD Effic. Rush-Yds. (TDs)
Brad Smith (2002) 5-7 196-366-6 53.6 2,333 15 117.34 193-1,029 (7)
Chase Daniel (2006) 8-5 287-452-10 63.5 3,527 28 145.06 147-379 (4)
Blaine Gabbert (2009) 8-5 262-445-9 58.9 3,593 24 140.45 103-204 (3)
James Franklin (2011) 8-5 238-376-11 63.3 2,865 21 139.88 217-981 (15)
Franklin was responsible for 36 TDs, which was the most of the group. He's also the only one of the group to guide the Tigers to a win over a ranked team (winning each of his last 2 against ranked foes) in his first year as a starter. Were it not for a missed field goal at the end of regulation at Arizona State, Franklin would have been 3-3 against ranked opponents last year.
Moving forward, Tiger coaches and fans are hoping that Franklin can emulate a career arc that his predecessors achieved – an improved win total in his 2nd year as a starter.
Here's that look:
Wins in 1st Two Years as a Starter at Mizzou:
Tiger 1st Year 2nd Year
Brad Smith 5-7 8-5
Chase Daniel 8-5 12-2
Blaine Gabbert 8-5 10-3
James Franklin 8-5 1-2
tigers have quick-strike ability
Mizzou's #1 offense has turned in 12 scoring drives through 4 games in 2012. Only 4 of those have taken longer than 2:02 of clock time, as the Tigers have been quick about their business offensively. The first one, which was the season-opening possession in the first game against SE Louisiana, went 11 plays, 75 yards and took 3:52 of clock time (culminating in a James Franklin-to-T.J. Moe TD pass). The next "long" scoring drive by MU was a 13-play, 63-yard drive against Georgia which took 4:41 of possession time, and ended in an Andrew Baggett field goal with 2:39 left in the 3rd quarter which gave MU a 20-17 lead at the time. The next one was the game-opening drive last Saturday against Arizona State, which saw MU take 3:35 to move 29 yards for a 46-yard field goal by Baggett for a 3-0 lead, and the last was a 12-play, 76-yard drive taking 4:42 off the clock as MU got a 22-yard Baggett field goal at South Carolina.
The average time of the #1 offense's 12 scoring drives so far has been just 2:04, and they had a stretch where five straight scores against SE Louisiana and Georgia consumed a grand total of 189 seconds, or an average of :37 seconds per possession. Here's a look at the #1 offense's scoring drives so far in 2012:
• vs. SELA – 11 plays, 75 yds, 3:52 TOP (Moe 2-yd TD reception)
• vs. SELA – 1 play, 76 yds, 0:14 TOP (Lawrence 76-yd TD run)
• vs. SELA – 3 plays, 25 yds, 0:39 TOP (Lawrence 1-yd TD run)
• vs. Georgia – 4 plays, 5 yds, 0:59 TOP (Baggett 38 FG)
• vs. Georgia – 3 plays, 63 yds, 0:31 TOP (Lucas 41-yd TD reception)
• vs. Georgia – 3 plays, 70 yds, 0:46 TOP (Washington 69-yd TD reception)
• vs. Georgia – 13 plays, 63 yds, 4:41 TOP (Baggett 25 FG)
• vs. ASU – 9 plays, 29 yds, 3:35 TOP (Baggett 46 FG)
• vs. ASU – 4 plays, 18 yds, 1:35 TOP (Berkstresser 6 TD run)
• vs. ASU – 4 plays, 18 yds, 1:25 TOP (Lawrence 7 TD run)
• vs. ASU – 6 plays, 33 yds, 2:02 TOP (Lawrence 1 TD run)
• at S.Carolina – 12 plays, 76 yards, 4:42 TOP (Baggett 22 FG)
tiger linebackers are a veteran, experienced group
Mizzou expects big things from a talented and experienced front line of linebackers in 2012. The trio of senior Zaviar Gooden, senior Will Ebner and junior Andrew Wilson combine to give the Tigers what has to be one of the most seasoned trios in the nation. Oddly enough, these three might be the three quietest people on the football team, but they are likely the three hardest hitters.
Take a look at the combined career stats for the Gooden/Ebner/Wilson trio:
Tackles for Loss: 46.0
Gooden is arguably pound-for-pound the best pure athlete on the team, and he had an 80-tackle season in 2011 (2nd-best on the team), a year after he registered a team-high 85 tackles in 2010. Gooden, who earned his undergraduate degree in business administration this past May, had a string of 28 consecutive starts broken Sept. 15th when he missed the Arizona State game due to a hamstring injury sustained the previous week against Georgia. He returned to the starting lineup last Saturday at South Carolina, and made 1 tackle before leaving in the first half after aggravating his hamstring injury. His status for Saturday's game at UCF isn't currently known. Gooden has 210 career tackles (the most of any current Tiger) with 5 career interceptions. He had 6 tackles in the 2012 opener vs. SELA, including 2.0 TFLs, plus he grabbed a 1st-quarter interception and returned it 20 yards for the first score of his career. He followed with an 8-tackle outing against Georgia, before leaving the game late with a hamstring injury.
Wilson, who has the unofficial title of hardest hitter on the team, is coming off an outstanding sophomore season that saw him lead Mizzou with 98 tackles – more than double from his freshman total of 42 in 2010. Wilson, the son of former Tiger linebacker standout Jay Wilson (1980-83, he left holding MU's career tackles record at the time, with 323), was 2nd on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss a year ago, despite making just 9 starts in all. He tied Gooden for the team lead with 6 tackles against SE Louisiana, and he forced a fumble which led to an eventual Tiger score on offense. Wilson was credited with only 3 tackles against Georgia, but he was still impactful, as he forced a fumble, broke up a pass and added a QB hurry to his ledger. He followed with a big game against Arizona State, when he tied for the team lead with 9 tackles, including 8 solo stops, while forcing a fumble as well. He made 4 stops last Saturday at #7 South Carolina, and forced a fumble again, which gave him a nation-leading 4th forced fumble on the season.
Ebner is getting a second chance at a senior season, thanks to being awarded a 5th year by the NCAA, after he missed all but the first game of 2011 due to injuries (concussion, hamstring). In 2009, Ebner won honorable-mention All-Big 12 status when he racked up 78 tackles (3rd on the team) as a sophomore, before fighting through an injury-plagued 2010 season that saw him limited to just 9 games. He's made 20 career starts and has 41 games of experience under his belt, to go with 178 career tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss. He had off one of his top overall games at Mizzou, as he led a spirited Tiger defensive effort against Georgia as he contributed a team-high 9 tackles, with 1.0 tackle for loss. He followed with a 4-tackle outing against Arizona State, including 1.5 TFLs and a half-QB sack, and he's coming off a career-high 14-tackle performance at #7 South Carolina. That outing put him in the team lead for tackles on the season, and he enters the UCF game with a team-high 29 stops and 4.0 TFLs.
berkstresser holds his own in first collegiate start
Redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser learned 30 minutes prior to kickoff on Sept. 15th against Arizona State that he'd be making his first collegiate start, and he helped lead Mizzou to a 24-20 win over a quality ASU team. Berkstresser filled in for ailing QB James Franklin (shoulder, scratched after pre-game warmups) and performed well, as he threw for 198 yards (on 21-of-41 passing with 1 interception), while also running for 1 TD and a net of 25 yards (18 carries).
Berkstresser helped the Tiger offense convert 10 3rd-downs (in 22 attempts) and directed the show for an offense which owned the ball for 34:51 of clock time in the game. Berkstresser was at his best on 3rd down, as he completed 9-of-17 passes for 121 yards and no interceptions, with 8 of those going for first downs.
Last Saturday at #7 South Carolina, Franklin was able to return to the starting lineup, but Berkstresser did see some action, as he came off the bench to lead Mizzou to its only TD drive of the game. With the Tigers trailing, 31-3, Berkstresser guided Mizzou on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Lucas with 0:17 seconds left to account for the final score of 31-10. Berkstresser was 7-of-8 passing on the drive for 54 yards and he added 1 rush for 3 yards.
mizzou watch-listers in 2012
A quintet of Tigers find themselves on pre-season watch lists for various national awards. Here's a quick look at what Tigers are drawing attention:
• – Elvis Fisher, OL (Sr.) – Senior Bowl
• – James Franklin, QB (Jr.) – Maxwell / Manning / Walter Camp / Davey O'Brien
• – Zaviar Gooden, LB (Sr.) – Butkus / Senior Bowl
• – Brad Madison, DE (Sr.) – Hendricks / Senior Bowl
• – T.J. Moe, WR (Sr.) – Biletnikoff / Hornung / Senior Bowl
tigers in the nfl
Nineteen former Tigers are currently on NFL rosters, here's a look at them:
Tim Barnes, C, St. Louis Rams Beau Brinkley, LS/TE, Tennessee Titans
Colin Brown, OT, Buffalo Bills &&&Chase Coffman, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Chase Daniel, QB, New Orleans Saints Michael Egnew, TE, Miami Dolphins
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars Andrew Gachkar, LB, San Diego Chargers
&&&Dominique Hamilton, Washington Redskins Ziggy Hood, DL, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles William Moore, S, Atlanta Falcons
C.J. Mosley, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars ***Martin Rucker, TE, K, ansas City Chiefs
Kevin Rutland, DB, Jacksonville Jaguars Aldon Smith, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Brad Smith, QB/WR, Buffalo Bills Justin Smith, DT, San Francisco 49ers
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta Falcons
&&&-Practice Squad ***-Reserve/Injured
georgia wrapup notes
Despite the loss to Georgia on Sept. 8th, there were a lot of positives to take from the game. Here's a recap of some of those noteable performances:
• – Senior LB Will Ebner, who was listed as questionable coming into the game (neck), led a spirited Tiger defensive effort by making a team-high 9 tackles, including 1.0 tackle for loss.
• – The 41 points on the scoreboard by Georgia was not indicative of Mizzou's defensive performance overall, as the Bulldogs managed only 355 yards of offense and punted 8 times. Georgia averaged just 3.2 yards per rush, netting 113 yards on 35 carries, as the Tiger defense managed 8.0 tackles for loss (37 yards) and 2.0 QB sacks (15 yards). Mizzou's defenders held Georgia to only 5-of-16 on 3rd-down tries on the night, as well...
• – Junior LB Donovan Bonner had an impactful night, as he was responsible for both turnovers that Georgia gave up. The first came on a nice play over the middle, when he tipped a ball thrown by QB Aaron Murray to himself, and intercepted it (1st-career INT) at the Georgia 38-yardline. He returned it 13 yards to the UGA 25-yardline, which set up a Tiger field goal for a 3-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. That play was huge, as it came right away after the Tiger offense fumbled the ball away in the red zone. Bonner's second play also gave MU the ball deep in ‘Dawg territory, when he forced a fumble on punt coverage that teammate SS Kenronte Walker fell on at the Georgia 32-yardline in the 2nd quarter with the game tied at 3 apiece. The Tiger offense couldn't convert the scoring opportunity, however, as a 43-yard field goal was no good...
• – Senior DE Brad Madison had both of MU's sacks of Georgia's QB Murray. Both sacks came on 3rd down, and each ended Georgia's initial drive of each half, forcing a punt. With the pair of sacks, Madison upped his career total to 15.0, which puts him just outside the MU career top-10. Xzavie Jackson is currently 10th on the list, with 16.5 sacks from 2003-06...
• – Junior WR Marcus Lucas had a career night, as his 6 catches for 88 yards both represented career high totals. The signature play of his night was a 41-yard catch-and-run TD pass from QB James Franklin which gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead in the 2nd quarter. It was the 6th career TD catch for Lucas, and his last two have covered 53 yards (2011 vs. Kansas) and 41 yards. His first 4 career TDs covered 10, 11, 24 and 7 yards, respectively...
• – As is often the case, turnovers – especially the ability to capitalize on them – was the difference in a close ballgame. Georgia won the turnover battle, 3-2, and they converted those 3 turnovers into 14 points (all in a 2:17 span in the 4th quarter to break open a 27-20 game), while Mizzou managed only 3 points total on its pair of turnovers gained (both in the 2nd quarter)...
murphy ranks 9th nationally in punt returns; mu is 4th in ncaa
Sophomore Marcus Murphy had quite a 2012 season debut Sept. 1st, as he made history by returning a pair of punts for touchdowns in helping Mizzou to a 62-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana. Two days later, Murphy was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts. Here's a recap of his big night:
• – Murphy became the first Tiger in history to have two kick returns for scores in a game. His scores were from 70 yards in the 3rd quarter (4:41 mark), and he followed with a 72-yarder early in the 4th quarter (9:45 mark)…
• – Murphy ended the game with 180 punt return yards on 5 attempts (36.0 avg.), and his yardage broke the long-standing MU single-game record of 156 previously held by NFL Hall of Famer Roger Wehrli, set Oct. 21, 1967…
• – The only other time Mizzou has had two kick returns for scores in the same game was back in 1965, when Johnny Roland had a 65-yard punt return for a TD and Ray Thorpe had a 79-yard kickoff return for a score in a 14-14 tie against UCLA…
• – His 72-yarder was the longest by a Tiger since former All-American Jeremy Maclin had a 75-yard punt return touchdown in the 2008 Alamo Bowl against Northwestern. It is also the first time since the 2007 season that a Tiger has had multiple punt return scores in the same year, and just the 5th time in school history that's happened. Other Tigers with two punt return scores in the same season prior to Murphy include Maclin (2 in 2007), Leo Lewis (2 in 1975), John Moseley (2 in 1973) and Don Smith (2 in 1960)…
• – Murphy, who missed the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury, also carried the ball five times on offense, and gained 32 yards, for an average of 6.4 yards per attempt…
After 4 games, Murphy ranks 9th in the NCAA with his punt return average of 19.18 yards. He was also Mizzou's leading rusher against the stout Bulldog defense, as he gained 43 yards on 6 attempts (7.2 avg.).
As a team, the Tigers rank 4th nationally (1st in the SEC) in punt returns, averaging 23.18 per attempt.
gimme some moe
Senior WR T.J. Moe figures to be a major contributor in 2012 in a number of ways. Most people know him as one of the top returning wide receiver play makers in the nation. He caught a combined 146 passes over the 2010-2011 seasons for 1,694 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also rushed for 142 career yards and a TD, and the former star high school quarterback has also a TD pass on his resume – a beauty of a 40-yarder that got Mizzou jump-started in last year's Independence Bowl win over North Carolina.
As if that weren't enough, Moe has served as Mizzou's primary kickoff return man in 2012. He handled those duties in 2011, and his average of 23.35 yards per return was good for 7th-best in the Big 12 and 63rd nationally. His 49-yarder in the 2nd half against UNC countered a Tar Heel score, and led to a Tiger scoring drive which essentially iced the game.
Moe has also added one more duty to his gameday checklist in 2012: holder for place kicks. The sure handed receiver, who after a 3-catch, 26-yard, 1-TD receiving performance in the opener, followed by a 6-catch, 45-yard outing against Georgia and an 8-catch, 88-yard performance last time out against Arizona State, stands 6th on the Mizzou career receptions list (167), and who is now 8th on the school career top-10 in receiving yards (1,874) will be MU's primary holder for the first time in his career.
Moe added a 42-yard kickoff return against Arizona State to open the game. That return sparked the Tigers to a nice drive to open the game which ended with a field goal and a quick 3-0 lead. Three of Moe's 8 receptions on the night against ASU came on 3rd down, with all three gaining the distance needed to move the chains.
GAINES ANCHORS EXPERIENCED TIGER SECONDARY
The Mizzou defense has the luxury of returning three of four secondary players who were starters by the end of the 2011 season. Leading the charge in 2012 is junior CB E.J. Gaines, who enjoyed a break-out year as a first-time starter a year ago. Playing in the pass-happy Big 12 Conference, Gaines and his running mates got plenty of opportunities to make plays, and the Independence, Mo. native did that early and often, as he finished the season ranked 3rd nationally with 18 passes defended, including an MU single-season record 16 passes broken up. He won 1st-Team All-Big 12 honors for his efforts, and he's had a strong start to the 2012 season, as he's got 4 pass break ups. Gaines also ranks 4th on the team with 3.0 TFLs and has the 4th-most tackles on the team, with 18 through 4 games.
Senior CB Kip Edwards is also back to line up opposite Gaines. Edwards made 11 starts in 2011 and ended with 3 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception to go with 55 tackles. Edwards sustained a bruised knee during August training camp, and missed alot of time, but hasn't missed game action, and he responded by making 5 tackles and recovering a fumble in the season opener against SE Louisiana. Edwards had an impactful game against Arizona State, as he nabbed his first interception of the season and he also fell on a fumble to account for two of Mizzou's 4 turnovers gained on the night. Edwards made 3 stops last Saturday at #7 South Carolina and also recovered a fumble for the second-straight outing.
Mizzou's primary nickel/dime corner is junior CB Randy Ponder. A former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship last season, Ponder made three starts a year ago when the Tigers used nickel/dime packages and he tied for 2nd on the squad with 4 break ups. Ponder also grabbed an interception at Texas A&M early in the 4th quarter and returned it 45 yards to set up a Tiger touchdown which kick-started them to a come-from-behind victory. He made his first start of the season against ASU, and responded with 5 tackles, including 1 TFL. Through 4 games, Ponder ranks 4th on the team with his 18 tackles. He made 7 tackles and had a pass break-up at #7 South Carolina last Saturday.
Senior SS Kenronte Walker started the final four games of 2011, and he came on strong late in the year, as exactly half of his 44 tackles on the season came in those last four games, including a career-high 10 stops against Texas Tech, in another game in which Mizzou rallied late to win. His exploits against Arizona State were documented earlier in these notes, but he was the big hero in crunch time, as he broke up a 4th-down pass in the endzone and also grabbed an interception in the endzone in the final four minutes to help Mizzou hold on for its 24-20 win. Last Saturday at South Carolina, Walker made 5 stops, including 1 TFL, and he recovered a fumble as well.
Sophomore Braylon Webb, who earned Big 12 All-Freshman Team status a year ago, has started all 4 games so far in 2012, and he's got 16 tackles and a fumble recovery to his ledger. Webb wasn't sure whether he could go in the season opener against SE Louisiana, as he got his knee scoped late in camp, but he did see the field, making the start and ending with 1 tackle against SELA. He had 6 tackles against Georgia and followed with 4 stops and a fumble recovery against Arizona State, and Webb was credited with a 5-tackle day last Saturday at South Carolina.