Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Braggin' Rights Live Blog

By Tiger Fan and Born-a-Tiger

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for the Braggin’ Rights game… lately, an annual ritual where Mizzou fans gather together and bemoan the demise of their basketball program. The Tigers haven’t won since 1999. I’ve been there the last two years and that hasn’t helped, so I’ll try watching it at home with Born-a-Tiger and Fannette this year. Last year’s 82-50 loss was the worst in series history, so it can’t get any worse. Right? Game on… let’s end this drought!

8:00: Certainly Duke is Duke… but they’re trying real hard to screw over Mizzou fans by blowing a 10-point lead against Kent State and sending things to overtime

8:05: Looks like Duke will pull this out, despite being incredibly overrated. In fact, Kent State fans have begun an overrated chant (down 5). And apparently Ohio State is struggling against the Cyclones. What the heck? Anyway, it’s over… let’s go to the real game.

8:09: As the team takes the floor, Born-a-Tiger suggests that Mizzou invest in a Mission:Impossible-style mask so that DeMarre Carroll can pretend to be Kalen Grimes. Or, CMA could do start Leo Lyons in his place. That could work.

8:15: Nolan Richardson was just spotted in the stands with a straw hat and a gray moustache. I think he’s trying to blend in…. ‘cause, you know, that’s what everyone else is wearing.

8:19: Stefhon Hannah is starting out hot and the Tigers have weathered the opening storm from the Illini. It’s 8-10 at the first timeout… I’ll take that.

8:27: Illinois fouls Grimes in an attempt to front him. Apparently they think he’s good and… OOOOHHHHH, Grimes with a huge put-back. Perhaps we were wrong about Kalen. Perhaps.

8:30: Illinois seems to be scoring at will right now, but they’re taking some tough shots and they happen to be going down. I’m okay with those shots… and if they really keep making them, we’re not going to win anyway.

8:37: And it seems that everyone on both teams is in foul trouble. Advantage: Mizzou.

8:49: I correctly called a Jason Horton miss at the free throw line, then Born-a-Tiger calls two straight misses by Pruitt, specifically naming where on the rim it will hit. Nice.

8:59: I was all set to say that the “Grimes fade-away count is at one”… but he traveled

9:02: The Tigers lead 38-35 at the half. Any Tiger fan who won’t take that is delusional. No popcorn showers this year. Great half of coaching.

9:06: Thinking back, the Tigers have been down at halftime a lot in this series and they always play better in the second half. I wasn’t a math major in school, but I’m pretty sure if we outscore them in the second half this year, we’ll win. Write that down.

9:10: As halftime continues, Fannette wanders into the room and I tell her we’re down by 20. She looks confused… not because she doesn’t think this is possible, but because we haven’t been screaming nearly enough to be down 20. Ah, college basketball.

9:23: Yikes. A quick 6-0 run by the Illini. Too many second chance points. Good time out by CMA.

9:29: Brian Randle gets his third foul. Born-a-Tiger says he looks hurt. I say he look stupid in his t-shirt. Fannette says he looks Mexican. Classic.

9:30: Fannette points out that I am also wearing a t-shirt under my jersey. Touche.

9:32: Why is Sean Sutton considered a first-year coach? Hasn’t he realistically been the coach at OSU for several years because his dad is a drunk? I’m just asking.

9:44: After Kalen knocks down a jumper, the announcer says, “Grimes, not known for his post moves…” Yeah, that’s what you want to hear about your big man. But hey, he’s playing well tonight.

9:57: This one’s not over yet, but with Mizzou down five, you have to look at second chance points. Illinois has 20 so far… teams won’t get that next year with Carroll in the mix.

10:15: Ahhhhh… free throws, rebounding and a lane violation are going to cost us the game. That’s a shame. It’s been a great game.

10:17: It’s not over yet, but the Tigers trail by three with 11.7 to play. They should have gotten it back on the last in-bound (the Illini player traveled and there was a held ball), but Illinois used its last timeout. It will come down to this possession.

10:18: STEAL! Tigers have 4.8 seconds to tie it. What a game!

10:19: Hannah loses it on his way up and that’s it. He was open but it just slipped out of his hands. His reaction? “F***ing crap.” Interesting choice of words to sum up the end of an interesting game. The final is 73-70 and while the Tigers need to beat these guys soon to keep the rivalry interesting, Mizzou fans should feel pretty good about this. It was a great game and it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, the guys just couldn’t quite pull it out and CMA becomes the first coach in the history of this rivalry to lose in his first year. Oh well… we’ll get them next year. And I mean it this time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Weekly Report

By Tiger Fan

Allright, law school exams are over, so I finally have to time to weigh in on all the issues in Columbia. So, without further ado...

Ticket scalping
Is anyone really surprised that the Sun Bowl ticket situation has turned into such a fiasco? It just wouldn't be a Mizzou sporting event without the athletic department screwing things up. When I first heard that they were giving away free tickets to students, I thought it was great... it's about time Mike Alden acknowledged the fact that the athletic department is actually tied to a university full of students. But almost as quickly, I realized this would be a disaster. Let's see: "poor" students who are crappy "fans," free tickets, eBay, a game in freakin' El Paso smack dab in the middle of winter break... what could go wrong?

I'm torn about who to blame for this. The athletic department is stupid for not seeing this coming. The fans who are buying the student tickets are stupid for encouraging it. And the students themselves are just jerks... and terrible fans. We actually had this happen with Zou Crew student tix to the Braggin' Rights game a couple years ago and those responsible were kicked out of the organization. The bottom line is that no true Tiger fan would take advantage of the AD's generosity and try to turn a profit for themselves. It is amusing to me to hear the students justify selling their tickets: "Well, they shouldn't have given them to us" (classy)... "Everyone knows Mizzou football is just about tailgating anyway" (I'm sure the players would appreciate hearing that. Plus, I've got bad news for the Mizzou tailgaters out there: Our scene is fine, but it's no better than most other Big XII schools and pales in comparison to anything in the SEC)... "I'm a poor college student" (give me a break)... "Who wants to ride to El Paso in a bus and sleep four to a room?" (Um, I think that's called a road trip. Those kind of memories are what college is all about. Besides, I thought you were poor?)... and my personal favorite, "Do you know how much an All Sports Pass costs? I'm just trying to recoup some of my investment. All student tickets should be free." (Are you freakin' kidding me? All Sports pass costs $207. That's less than season football tickets cost and then you get all the other sports for free. If anyone needs to recoup their investment it's someone who actually paid the AD face value for their tickets. The AD loses money on All Sports Passes. And sure, there are some schools where they let kids in free... but there are also schools like Ohio State where freshman get the distinct privilege of buying tickets to ONE game. I think Mizzou is at a happy medium).

Lost in all this is the bigger problem: The AD has only sold a couple thousand tickets, well short of the mark required by the Sun Bowl. If we don't get there, it will COST the AD around $200,000. Nice work, Tiger fans. Here's the bottom line: We should never complain about getting passed over by a better bowl. Mizzou fans have proven we don't deserve it.

Fan support
Speaking of Mizzou fans, what the heck is going on in Columbia? I understand that there was some snow and all, but let's show some support for the basketball team. They're 9-1 and off to their best start since 2001 (when they went to the Elite Eight), but no one seems to care. It's pathetic. Only a few years ago, Hearnes was overflowing with people because the AD thought all the students would skip the Iowa game at the start of Christmas break and resold the tickets... but then all the students showed up. Now? Either our student "fans" are pathetic or they have seriously raised the academic standards at Mizzou. Come on folks, get to a game. It takes two hours and if that makes a difference in your studying, you're probably screwed anyway. CMA is not Quin Snyder and he has these guys playing with heart. They deserve your support.

I guess part of the problem may be the geniuses in the athletic department, who seem to be doing everything possible to discourage student attendance. According to this story in the Tribune, Alden apparently called in the police at 3:00 a.m. to prevent students from lining up early for Braggin' Rights tickets. Yes, this is the same guy who won't let students camp outside the arena before big games (that's why the annual Zou Crew camp-out for kU seats was always at Tiger Plaza). Name for me another big-time program that would turn away students who were camping out for seats. I'll wait.... Back? There aren't any. Some Mizzou fans want to believe we have a big-time program, but we won't until our crappy leadership stops doing stuff like this. It's a Catch 22: The AD complains that we don't have any fan support... then the fans show up and he calls the police. Brilliant. How does this man still have a job?

Wrestling
The other team that deserves your support is the Mizzou wrestling team, currently ranked No. 1 in the country. Take a minute to let that sink in. No. 1 in the nation. Could you imagine what game day would be like if football was No. 1? Basketball? Ben Askren already brought Mizzou one national title and is working on another. Now, his brother Max is looking to do the same. These guys are the real deal.

Elson Floyd
I'd be remisced if I didn't mention the departure of University of Missouri President Elson Floyd. He's not directly related to the athletic department, but after the Ricky Clemons debacle, he will be forever tied to Quin, Alden, etc. I'm torn about what to think. On one hand, I'm all for getting rid of the entire regime that killed the basketball program and embarassed Mizzou on a national scale. Quin's gone... Floyd is gone... Alden is the only one left. The thing is, Floyd didn't really do anything wrong. Sure, his wife was completely out of line and embarassing, but can he be blamed for his wife's conduct? It always seemed to me like he got caught in a bad situation where he reached out to a student in trouble, and Clemons made him look like a fool. On the other hand, if you look at the big picture, he was good for the academic side of the university (which is why it exists in the first place, isn't it?). Most faculty members supported him, and he did a good job of keeping the state from slashing Mizzou's budget more than necessary. I think the Tiger fans who are cheering his departure are taking a somewhat myopic view of the situation. Overseeing athletics at Mizzou was a very, very small part of his job. Floyd was supervising the operation of four campuses throughout the state. He must have been doing a good job, otherwise Washington State wouldn't have offered him so much money to leave. He always seemed like a nice guy to me (can't say the same for his wife), so I wish him all the best. I just hope the UM system can find a suitable replacement to run the SCHOOL. If you have a problem with ATHLETICS, fire Alden. Maybe the new guy will do it...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thoughts on Mizzou-Purdue

By Tiger Fan

Before everyone starts jumping off a bridge because of the 79-62 loss to Purdue, let’s remember a few things: 1) a couple months ago, we all would have been thrilled with a 9-1 record right now… 2) this was our first road game and it showed… 3) Purdue is a pretty good team… 4) this game was a lot closer than it looks from the score. It was tied at the half, but we just couldn’t buy a basket in the second half. It doesn’t matter how well you play defense if you can’t score (they scored 39 in the first, 40 in the second… we scored 39 in the first, 23 in the second). Now, here are some specific thoughts:

-First off, let’s talk about ESPN 360. I can’t emphasize this enough... it SUCKS. Explain to me why I should like watching a game in a little 5x5 box in my computer instead of getting it on MSN or FOX. I feel bad for Big Eleven fans who apparently have to watch games like this all the time. For about half the game, it re-buffered every two or three or three seconds so you had no idea what was going on. Strangely, they didn’t have any problems with the ESPN ads. And I’m not sure where they got those announcers, but they were terrible. I’m almost hoping that they just hired the normal TV crew that does Purdue games because otherwise, they showed an incredible lack of professionalism in professing their love for Purdue throughout the game. Also, they apparently didn’t do any research on Mizzou before we got there. Through the whole first half, they kept talking about how “Mizzou is going to stick with the press here” and “There’s no way they can do this for 40 minutes.” Um… yeah… that’s exactly what we do. I guess we’ll have to deal with that until people get used to Mike Anderson. One interesting note: according to this crack announcing squad, comedian Martin Lawrence has turned into a white small forward who plays for the Tigers…

-Missouri probably thought it was a good idea to have Big XII refs in a Big Eleven venue. What the AD failed to remember is that Big XII refs suck. If Tom O’Neil and Steve Weimer call all the Mizzou games as tight as they did in the first half, we may be the first team ever to forfeit a game because the whole team fouls out.

-As expected, our interior defense and rebounding is TERRIBLE against a team with some real size. They gave up way too many second chance baskets on the offensive end and they made some kid named Landry look like Shaq. We also took at a lot of bad shots… and missed a lot of free throws… and we have to find a way to get Matt Lawrence open… and we will lose at least one or two games this year because Grimes sucks. He refuses to attack the basket, opting for the fade-away every time. That’s not what you want from your big man. The good news is that most of these things can be fixed.

-Apparently Purdue fans are really lame or they haven’t watched much basketball. Based on all the booing, they apparently expected a foul every time anyone was touched. I also thought it was funny to hear them get frustrated when their players continually dribbled into double teams. You would hear the whole crowd yelling, “Go! Come on!”

-A few plays that stood out: Mizzou’s first basket was a great dish from Horton to Grimes for a monster jam, Hannah scored six points in about 20 seconds to give us the lead in the first half thanks to the press, Tiller hit a 30-footer with a guy in his face as the shot clock expired, K-Law made a great block on a Purdue fast break and then saved the ball from going out of bounds. The only problem? All these plays happened in the first half.

Monday, November 20, 2006

MU-ISU recap

By Tiger Fan

We've all seen great games where everyone played well and it was a shame that someone had to lose. Last year's Rose Bowl, the amazing ND-USC game and even this weekend's epic between Michigan and Ohio State. Saturday's game between Mizzou and Iowa State was not one of those games. It's a shame that anyone had to win. Pretty much everyone other than ISU's Kock turned in a poor performance, including the refs. As mad as we were about the phantom holding call, our group of Mizzou fans had to admit we didn't deserve to win as we headed for the exits. Once we got to the bars, we were greeted by plenty of Cyclone fans who said they didn't deserve it either. But as much as we'd like to just erase this game from our collective memory, it happened. Here's a look at all that went so horribly wrong.

ISU
On the surface, it may not look like the Cyclones did anything wrong. After all, they won the game and their fullback turning tailback Ryan Kock turned in a huge day. But ISU actually blew several chances to put the game away... only to be aided by poor officiating or mistakes by Mizzou. Early in the game, trailing 10-7, the Cyclones stalled inside the 10 and were set to kick a field goal... when Mizzou jumped offsides. Only then did ISU take the 14-10 lead. On a crucial fourth and 2 in the third quarter, they didn't stick to their bread and butter by rushing up the middle. Instead, they rolled out Bret Meyer, who replays show was knocked out of bounds a yard shy of the first down... but the referees gave them the spot anyway. On third and goal from the 2 with a chance to ice the game, they got cute and went for a play action pass instead of sticking with Kock. The result was a sack. Then they missed a field goal and gave Mizzou a chance for the win. McCarney was out-thinking himself more than Gary Pinkel on Saturday... and that takes some effort. I'm not trying to take anything away from ISU... they came to play. But they didn't execute well and they made some very bad decisions. A good team would have exploited those. Unfortunately...

Mizzou
...Missouri is not a good team. It's becoming clearer and clearer that while this team might have more talent than past Missouri teams, they are very poorly coached. The offensive line can't block anybody. Our running backs can't hold onto the ball. Our defense can't make any adjustments (ISU ran the same cut-back play with Kock over and over again). And we call some of the most asinine plays you have ever seen. The Tigers ran the same flanker screen at least 6 times. All our running plays require our backs to run 10 yards to the sideline before going up the field. And why on earth would you line up in the shotgun on fourth and inches with the game on the line. I know Chase got in, but I guarantee that no one would have called holding on a QB sneak under center. Why put our crappy o-line in the position of having to pull and block somebody in space? It just doesn't make sense. The only player who played well was Chase, who turned in an absolutely heroic performance. It would have been legendary but...

The Refs
...Castleberry and his crew sucked on Saturday. According to the KC Star, Walt Anderson, who is the Big 12 head of officials, has already called Pinkel to say that the phantom holding call was incorrect. Big surprise there, considering the flag came in three seconds after the play ended and Wyrick was laying flat on his stomach at the time of the alleged penalty. Look, I'm not pinning this all on the refs, the game should never have been that close... but the fact is that they took the game-winning touchdown off the board with a bad call. Also, what most MU fans are missing is that the officiating was terrible throughout the game. Ignoring the fact that Chase scored twice and wasn't given credit for either score, here's a quick rundown of some fascinating decisions from Saturday's game:
-After allowing blatant holding by both teams throughout the game, the refs call three holding penalties on the Tigers in the fourth quarter.
-On the final drive, Jared Perry catches a short pass on the sideline, takes one step forward, gets hit, takes one step back and goes out of bounds. The ref calls him in bounds and signals for the clock to run.
-The refs consistently spot the ball about a yard ahead of where it should have been. The most blatant example was on the aforementioned fourth and 2 when Meyer rolls out and dives for the first down marker. The ref picks up the ball, LOOKS AT THE FIRST DOWN MARKER, then sets the ball down even with it. Despite the fact that Meyer dove three yards to get there and it was anything but an obvious call, they don't measure. The replay shows that Meyer's hand hits the chalk with the ball at least a yard shy of the first down.
-On a kickoff return in the second half, two MU players chase the kick returner out of bounds. The replay clearly shows that neither one touches the returner, although one does slam into an ISU coach who doesn't get out of the way in time. Mizzou is flagged for a 15-yard late hit. On Mizzou's next offensive series, Daniel is leveled going out of bounds. Frankly, it was a clean hit... but in the interest of consistency, there's no way he didn't deserve the penalty.
-The replay officials were just as bad. They reviewed two obvious Mizzou catches in the first half (both upheld) but didn't review Meyer's fourth down plunge. Also, the Tigers had to waste a timeout and beg for Daniel's flipping TD run to be reviewed. I still believe he was in, but I know there wasn't a good camera angle. The replay official confirmed the ruling on the field.

The only good thing I can say about Saturday's game was that it was exciting... mainly because you never had any idea what would happen next... and then you never knew if it might be overturned by a ref. Let's just chalk this up to a learning experience: Mizzou learned that you can't overlook anybody, ISU learned that it's best offensive strategy is to keep handing the ball to a huge white kid and the refs learned what holding is. And I learned once again why it sucks to be a Mizzou fan...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Basketball season is here

By Tiger Fan

In case you are looking for a way to pass the time this weekend with the football Tigers on a bye week, let me remind you that the Mizzou basketball team opens play this weekend with three games in three days. Things tip off Friday night… but it won’t be on TV for some reason. Anyway, I’ve had the opportunity to watch both of the exhibition games so far this season and I’ve been generally pleased with what I have seen. I’m not expecting a Big XII title or anything, but at least we have a reason to pay attention again. Here’s a rundown:

Good news…

-Stefhon Hannah is the best point guard Mizzou has had in a long, long time. I’ve heard lifelong Tiger fans compare his abilities to those of Melvin Booker. He’s very quick, plays solid defense, knocks down 3s and throws a killer alley-oop. Too bad he wasn’t around for the end of the Rickey Paulding era.

-Marshall Brown will need to step up this year if the Tigers are going to accomplish anything. So far, so good. It may just be the inferior opponents, but Brown has been doing a good job of attacking the basket… plus, playing with Hannah really seems to elevate his game.

-Matt Lawrence has proven himself to be a good shooter when he gets the chance. That’s something we will desperately need.

-The new system is fun to watch. Even when Mizzou was obliterating the Lithuania Academy, I was entertained by all the steals and fast breaks. It’s probably a product of the system, but the Tigers also seem to be playing with a lot more energy and heart

-Stefhon Hannah is the best thing that ever happened to Jason Horton. First, Hannah’s presence keeps Horton from bringing it up the court and pounding it into the floor for 20 seconds. And second, he is pushing Horton and making him a better player. Have I mentioned how excited I am about Stefhon Hannah?

-Volkus seems like a solid contributor. He’s not going to win any style points, but he’s not afraid to get in there and rebound… which is good because don’t really have any big guys inside to handle that.

-Butterfield has more touch than I expected.

-Tiller appears to have all the physical tools and is a solid defender. Now it’s just a matter of refining his game to make him a complete player

-Grimes is quicker after shedding a few pounds in the offseason.

-We are scoring at a much better clip this year. I know that UMR and Lithuania Academy are horrible, but we scored 105 and 94 respectively. That’s much better than the totals we put up in last year. Unfortunately, I remember the days when we used to do that during the actual season… of course, I also remember needing a buzzer beater to beat the EA Sports All-Stars.

-We have a chance to surprise some people because this system allows us to play beyond our talent level. If we were playing in Quin’s “system” with this year’s talent, we would lose a TON of games

-We have a coach that is actually coaching this year. Seriously. Every time you look over there, Anderson is standing up, calling out instructions, moving guys around. Maybe I have forgotten that Quin used to do this, but I remember looking at the bench last year during the Braggin’ Rights game and seeing Quin sitting down and looking defeated. Attitude reflects leadership.

Bad news…

-We’re going to get killed inside this year. Definitely once Big XII play starts but maybe even before then. We better steal the ball before they get into a half-court set or we will be in big trouble. It sure would be nice to have DeMarre Carroll right about now… or Ty Morrison… sigh…

-… or Leo Lyons, for that matter. Lyons has been out for the exhibition games with undisclosed academic troubles. Great... just what we need. Hard to believe Kentucky wanted this guy.

-Keon Lawrence and Glen Dandridge are hurt and probably will be for at least another month. We know what Dandridge brings to the table and I can easily see him starting over Lawrence in this system. It fits his game perfectly. We still don’t know about K-Law. If the rumors are true, we want him out there ASAP.

-Mike Anderson Jr. isn’t a big addition, but at least he’s not using a scholarship. I have a sneaky suspicion that once everyone is healthy, we won’t be seeing very much of him.

-Grimes is being way too fancy with his shots. In both exhibition games, he was the biggest player on the floor, but he was shooting fade-aways and jump shots. He needs to take it strong to the rim and go through people. If he can’t be tough inside, it’s going to be a long season.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

1978

By Tiger Fan


I meant to post this on Friday, but I never got around to it. This was supposed to be the MU-NU preview. We all know how that turned out. But I think a lot of this is still worth pondering. Enjoy.


1978.

That’s the last time the Tigers won in Lincoln. Let that soak in for a minute: It was 28 years ago and a lot has changed in nearly three decades. The Internet didn’t even exist, let alone blogs. Heck, no one who writes for The Zou was even alive yet. Kellen Winslow was still playing for the Tigers. We had a goofball Republican as our President. Gas prices were high. There was a crisis in the Middle East… okay, maybe some things haven’t changed, but you get my point. It’s been a REALLY LONG TIME since the Tigers beat the Huskers in Nebraska.

Perhaps more importantly, it has also been quite a while since the Tigers played in a game with so much on the line. Saturday’s winner is all but assured of a Big XII North Title. I know some may mock this “achievement” since it is akin to being the smartest kid in the slow class, but let’s remember for a moment that this is Mizzou we are talking about. In the 11-year history of the Big XII, we have exactly one conference title (softball in 1997). Beggars can’t be choosers. If Mizzou somehow wins on Saturday, it will likely propel them to the first 10-win season in decades and a shot winning the Big XII Championship in Kansas City. Fans can grumble all they want about bad coaching and last week’s ugly performance against OU, but I’m not sure anyone could be disappointed with a 10-win season.

Of course, it’s also not the end of the world if the Tigers lose on Saturday. As I have established, it’s been almost 30 years since we won in Lincoln, so there’s no reason to expect it now. Nebraska opened as a 7-point favorite and the Huskers should be angry coming off two straight losses. Let’s be honest: If the Huskers bring their A-game and the Tigers play like they did last week, Mizzou will lose by 30. Even if both teams play top-notch football, it’s a toss-up at best. So let’s say the Tigers lose… but let’s also say they finish the year by knocking off ISU and kU. I still think Tiger fans have to be pleased with the season. Yes, they could have won against A&M or OU, but can anyone tell me with a straight face that they predicted 10 wins for this team back in August? I for one would have been thrilled if you told me we’d go 9-3 this season.

So what will happen on Saturday? That’s anybody’s guess. If we get the Tiger defense from the Tech game and the Tiger offense from the KSU game, it could be exciting. But if we turn the ball over like we did against OU and A&M, it will be a long afternoon. Nebraska has its own fair share of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome. The team that almost beat Texas would likely dominate the Tigers… but the team that almost lost to kU in Lincoln is very beatable. The $1,978 question is which teams will show up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

What if...

By Tiger Fan

I said in Friday's preview that the game against Oklahoma would establish whether the Tigers are contenders or pretenders. Unfortunately, it looks like we are the same old Mizzou. But the amazing thing is, despite how terrible the game was, the Tigers were just a few plays away from winning it. Don't believe me? Ponder this:

What if...

...Chase Coffman hauls in the wide open pass in the first quarter and puts the Tigers up 10-0?

...OU linebacker Zach Latimer doesn't accidently come on a blitz and intercept a tipped pass?

...Tony Temple switches hands to avoid the fumble?

...the offensive line actually blocks somebody so that the Tigers don't lose 21 yards on a fumble?

...the punt unit puts a body on Jason Carter to give Crossett time to punt?

...the refs make the correct call of running into the kicker?

...Mizzou does the smart thing by not even rushing the punter in the first place?

...Mizzou makes smarter play calls on its four chances from inside the two-yard line?

...Xzavie Jackson doesn't make stupid play by throwing Gutierrez out of bounds after the play was dead, extending the OU drive?

It's a sad game to play, but the fact is that if any one of these plays turns out differently, Mizzou could have won. If two or three turn out differently, the Tigers could have blown them out. All in all, it was a terrible day for the Tigers. The officiating was poor, but it didn't cost us the game. We lost because we were getting killed at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. And we lost because Gary Pinkel turned in one of the worst coaching exhibitions I have ever seen. I felt like it was 2004 all over again. Mizzou displayed all the signs of a poorly coached team on Saturday. If these things aren't fixed, we could finish 7-5. Seriously. Just when you thought it was safe to be a Mizzou fan...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Biggest... game... EVER... at least until next week

By Tiger Fan

Before I get to the preview, a few thoughts on our last few games (I’ve been kind of busy and unable to weigh in as much as usual):

-The Texas Tech game is a perfect example of why it is difficult to be a Tiger fan: We were up 24-0 and while I was thrilled, I was sitting there waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then it started… 24-7… 24-14… 24-21… NO, NOT AGAIN! Thankfully the Tigers pulled it out, but I really wish they wouldn’t do that to us. I’m only 23, I can take it… but one of these days an older Mizzou fan won’t be so lucky!

-There were obviously lots of problems with the A&M game. The fumbles killed us (while I’m sure Marcus Woods is a nice guy and a hard worker, I don’t know if he will ever touch the ball again) and Pinkel’s asinine fake field goal attempt after the delay of game will be joke-fodder for years to come. But Will Franklin’s fumble at the goal-line is one of those plays that just seems like it will come back to haunt you. I’m not blaming the ‘Copter… the Aggie defender made a great play. And it completely changed the tone of the game. I am certain the Tigers win big if he scores on that play. Instead, the Aggies marched down the field and took the lead. So what’s the big deal? Right now, it’s just one loss. But put a star next to that play. If the Tigers finish one game out in the Big XII North race, you’ll know why.

-On a brighter note, great win last week by the Tigers to finally end the 13-year losing streak to KSUcks. Daniel looked great after the first play and the defense was lights out after making that stop on fourth-and-goal. A lot of folks were concerned about how many rushing yards they gave up, but I don’t think it was a big deal. First, the Wildcats racked up a lot of those yards late in the game after several reserves were in the game. Second, I think most of the missed tackles can be attributed to the rain. Take Freeman’s big run in the third, for example. Four Mizzou players were in exactly the right place, but they slipped and fell because of the wet turf. That’s just unlucky. The early forecast looks like that won’t be an issue vs. OU. Speaking of which…

I’ve discovered that something interesting happens when a college football team is winning consistently: Each game becomes more important. This may not be news to the Ohio State and USC fans of the world, but Mizzou fans haven’t had a one-loss record this late in the season in decades. You know, this winning thing is kind of fun. Anyway, the point is that this Saturday’s game against Oklahoma is the biggest game of the year – if not the decade – for the Tigers... well okay, at least until next week’s showdown with Nebraska.

But you get the idea: This is big-time stuff. It’s a chance for Mizzou to prove that it deserves all the national attention. It’s a chance to silence the nay-sayers. And it’s a chance to show that Mizzou has finally turned the corner under Pinkel. I think a win on Saturday would prove the Tigers are for real and will be a legitimate force in the Big XII for years to come. A loss proves that we really are the beneficiaries of a weak schedule and despite the 7-1 record, we’re the same old Mizzou.

Everyone wants to talk about beating Nebraska next week and winning the Big XII North. While that would obviously be great, I think the game against OU is more important for long-term success. No one outside Columbia will pick Mizzou to win in Lincoln… but we’re supposed to beat the Sooners on Saturday. Good teams win the games they are supposed to win. So we’ll get to find out if we have a good team. If the Tigers win on Saturday, we should end up with at least 10 wins… which is remarkable when you consider what this team has been over the last 20 years. And after that, if we were to beat Nebraska to win the North, it would be icing on the cake. But first things first… let’s go get the Sooners:

Coach

This one is pretty easy. Bob Stoops took over an Oklahoma program in the late ‘90s that had fallen out of the national spotlight. But it didn’t take him long to restore that tradition: He’s got a .824 winning percentage and has led the Sooners to seven bowl games (including four BCS games), three Big XII titles and the 2000 National Championship. He’s also 2-0 vs. Pinkel. Nothing against Gary, but there’s no argument here.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Defense

OU is always known for having a tough defense, but prior to doing some research, I was under the mistaken impression that the Sooners were having an off-year. That’s simply not the case. Oklahoma boasts the top defensive unit in the Big XII and No. 11 in the country, allowing just over 266 yards per game. Normally the Tiger offense wins games through the air, but they will need to establish the ground game in this one. Oklahoma ranks just 41st against the run compared to 11th against the pass. Many have also bemoaned Missouri’s porous rush defense, but it’s worth noting that the Tigers only give up about 110 yards per game on the ground. I think the defensive battle will be won by whichever team can stuff the run. OU Linebacker Rufus Alexander leads the team in tackling and seems to be on the watch list for every meaningful defensive award. Injuries will also play a role in this one: OU’s starting strong safety Reggie Smith will be limited with a broken tibia (though he may still play) while the Tigers will be without All-American candidate Brian Smith for the rest of the year. His replacement, Styker Sulak, will need to have a big game for Mizzou to be successful on defense.

Advantage: Oklahoma (by just a hair)

Offense

The hurdles facing the Oklahoma offense this season have been well-documented: QB Rhett Bomar was kicked off the team and Heisman candidate RB Adrian Peterson was lost for the season two weeks ago with a broken collarbone. Senior WR Paul Thompson has been a solid replacement at QB, but his inexperience limits the Sooners play-calling. While Thompson can’t always make the big plays, he has made up for it by being very efficient and not making mistakes. For most of the season, the offense has focused on Peterson, so the Sooners will turn to Allen Patrick in his absence. Patrick ran for 110 yards last week against Colorado. Also look for Jacob Gutierrez to get some touches in the backfield. On the Mizzou side, everyone named Chase continues to be amazing. I think Tony Temple and Earl Goldsmith will be the key to a Tiger win. If they can run on the OU defense and set up the pass, it could be a fun day for Mizzou.

Advantage: Mizzou

Special Teams

OU has a very good special teams unit. The only good news is that top return man Reggie Smith probably won’t be available for returns because of his injury. Wolfert has been fine on field goals for the Tigers, but we need to fix our punt and kickoff coverage quickly.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Bottom Line

OU has won 15 of the last 16 against Mizzou, but the Tigers are favored by a couple points on Saturday. Things are pretty much as even as they could be for this game: OU averages 32 points per game, Mizzou averages 33… OU gives up 16 points per game, Mizzou averages 15… neither team has beaten a top 25 team… both teams have dominated inferior competitions. The Sooners seem to have the better defense, while the Tigers seem to have the better offense. I really have no idea what is going to happen on Saturday, which is why I think it is hilarious that so many fans on both sides are extremely confident that their team will win big. This one will go down to the wire and if it were in Norman, I would pick the Sooners. But it’s not… so I’m picking the Tigers, 24-21.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can't spell SUcKs without KSU

By Tiger Fan

Let’s not beat around the bush: There’s no reason the Tigers should lose this weekend. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The only way it happens is if they are completely overlooking KSU in anticipation of next week’s showdown against OU… and even then, I think the Tigers could wake up in time for the second half and still win by a touchdown. If anything, Mizzou should be more focused than usual coming off the loss to A&M.

The line is Mizzou by 16.5, but let’s give some credit where credit is due: K-State has won 13 straight against the Tigers, so I don’t think it will be the cakewalk that some are predicting. However, these aren’t Bill Snyder’s Wildcats. They started the season by squeaking out a one-point victory at home against I-AA Illinois State and lost two weeks ago to Baylor. Yes, THAT Baylor. Other wins this season have come against powerhouse teams Florida Atlantic, Marshall and Oklahoma State.

All that being said, I hope the Tigers wipe the floor with KSU on Saturday. I’ve only been around for the last five losses, but it was five too many. Now, on to the preview:

Coach

KSU fans were quite excited when Ron Prince arrived last December to lead the Wildcats. They envisioned big things from the former UVa offensive coordinator and he started off on the right, putting together a solid recruiting class and stealing Josh Freeman away from Nebraska. But now that there is actually football being played, life isn’t so rosy in Manhattan. Rumor has it that after the loss to Baylor, Prince started kicking seniors and team captains out of practice. Starting offensive lineman Matt Boss left the team. Now there are five freshman starting on offense, including the right side of the offensive line and Freeman at QB. Prince was an offensive line coach before he became a coordinator, but you wouldn’t know it by watching his o-line this year. Pinkel has been a different coach for most of the year, but he reverted to his old ways a bit last week. No matter which Pinkel shows up on Saturday, he’s in better shape than Prince right now.

Advantage: Mizzou

Defense

The K-State defense has faired much better. In two match-ups vs. top 10 offenses (Nebraska and Louisville), the Wildcats have held their opponents below their season averages in points and yards. They gave up just 24 points to Louisville and 21 last week to the Huskers. Unfortunately, the offense let them down, coming up with just nine points combined in the two games. KSU ranks No. 36 in total defense and No. 30 in scoring defense, allowing 17 points per game. As we found out last week, the Tigers are very beatable if they turn the ball over… and the Wildcats have forced 14 turnovers through seven games this season. Sophomore DE Ian Campbell has been the leader on defense this year with 38 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Week after the win over Illinois State. The Tigers should also keep an eye out for senior linebacker Brandon Archer, who has been a Mizzou killer in the past. He has returned interceptions for touchdowns against the Tigers in each of the last two seasons. Yes, the Wildcat defense is pretty solid… but they’re not on par with Mizzou. Even after last week’s debacle, the Tigers still rank No. 18 nationally in total defense. Put these guys up against a weak o-line and things could get ugly in a hurry. The only downside is that the Tigers will be without starting safety Brandon Massey, who is suspended for violating team rules according to the Columbia Tribune.

Advantage: Mizzou

Offense

The Tigers are ranked No. 15 in the nation in total offense and they average 32 points/game. Chase Daniel continues to prove he is a stud. I think it is pretty clear that if the offense manages to hold onto the ball (particularly at the goal line, Will Franklin), they can rack up the points. As for K-State… yikes. They rank 93rd in total offense and 93rd in rush offense. They fair slightly better in the passing game (No. 59), but that probably has more to do the fact that they have been playing from behind several times this season. The position players are okay – and true freshman QB Josh Freeman (who will be making his second career start on Saturday) certainly has potential – but none of that matters when your offensive line is terrible… and K-State’s line is terrible. Brian Smith and Co. should have a blast this weekend.

Advantage: Mizzou

Special teams

Mizzou’s special teams unit runs hot and cold (See: Adam Crossett’s 79-yard punt last week… followed by a 39-yard shank). The Tigers’ net punting game ranks No. 91 in the nation. Not to be outdone, the Wildcats come in at No. 94. The bad news for the Tigers is that K-State has a superior return game (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the damage done by Wildcat punt returners in the past). They rank No. 2 nationally in kick-off returns and No. 38 in punt returns. It should surprise no one that the Tigers aren’t even close. KSU kicker Jeff Snodgrass is just 10 of 15 on the season, but probably has more range than Wolfert. Meanwhile, Wildcat punter Tim Reyer averages more than 40 yards a punt.

Advantage: KSU

Bottom line

The Tigers should end more than a decade of futility on Saturday. They have superior athletes and superior coaching. Isn’t it nice to be able to say that about a Tiger team? The only thing that could get in the way would be overconfidence. But if Pinkel’s boys have any pride, they will come out looking for blood on Saturday to avenge the last 13 years. I think the KSU defense will keep it closer than we would like, but the Tigers will win on Homecoming, 24-10.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Myths and Facts

As we prepare for Saturday's game, let's take a look at a few myths floating around about the MU football team.


Myth: Chase Daniel has not faced a lot of blitzes this season.

Fact: Chase Daniel has, in fact, faced significant blitzing schemes. New Mexico blitzed on almost every play, and almost every team Missouri has played has used several blitzes. The Missouri offensive line has done a nice job picking up the blitz, and Daniel has done a good job hitting his short options. Daniel has great accuracy on short patterns and fantastic touch over the middle, and he is calm and collected. He is fully equipped to handle the blitz.

Myth: The Missouri offense didn’t play well against Texas Tech.

Fact: It is silly to interpret Missouri’s yardage total from the Tech game as Missouri not moving the ball offensively. When your defense returns two interceptions for scores, that eliminates two offensive possessions. When your defense causes fumbles and you recover them at the 14 and the 44, that’s going to limit yard totals. When Daniel and the Tigers needed to move the ball, they did. Tech in no way shut down the Missouri offense.

Myth: Graham Harrell handed the game to Missouri

Fact: Only one of Harrell’s turnovers came on a play he wasn’t feeling significant pressure (the second interception). On the screen interception, Harrell had to release the ball because he had Brock Christopher in his jock. The three fumbles, obviously, were caused by pass rushes. The second pick was simply a fantastic athletic play by Willy Moore. Moore was at least 15 yards away from the ball when Harrell threw it, but he read the play, made a great break and wrestled the ball away. None of Harrell’s turnovers were Neil O’Donnell-to-Larry-Brown-in-the-Super Bowl interceptions. Turnovers don’t happen by accident, folks. Something forces them.

Myth: The crowd noise will affect Missouri’s playcalling.

Fact: I’ll present two arguments. Argument No. 1: Missouri couldn’t hear against Texas Tech, and it didn’t cause any problems. This team has faced a loud crowd. Argument No. 2: Missouri’s offense is called in by arm signals from the sideline. All the players are looking over every play – crowd noise has no effect on that. Missouri made it through the Tech game without a false start, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Gig'em Tigers

By Tiger Fan

This is a big weekend for the Tiger Fan Family. My parents both went to Texas A&M, so I grew up as a huge Aggie fan. To this day, one of my favorite sporting event memories was celebrating with my family in our Ohio living after Sirr Parker scampered into the end zone in overtime to beat K-State for the Big XII title. But now I have split loyalties: 23 years of cheering for the Aggies from afar vs. 5.5 seasons of living and breathing Tiger football (first in the band, then in the front row of Tiger’s Lair, now as an alumni season ticket holder).

When I decided to come to Mizzou, this was supposed to be pretty easy. A&M was a football school, so I could cheer for the Aggie football team. Mizzou was a basketball school, so I could cheer for the Tigers on the hardwood. But a funny thing has happened… the Tiger football team is on the rise while the Aggie basketball team will be a preseason top 10 selection. What the…?

Still, when my mom asked earlier this year who I would be cheering for, I said I would wait and see who needed the game more. But that’s not going to work either. The Tigers are an almost unprecedented 6-0 and suddenly have a chance to compete for a Big XII title. Meanwhile, the Aggies are 5-1 and need this win to start regaining some respect (and Coach Fran may need it to keep his job). Decisions, decisions.

The most disappointing thing this week has been the behavior of both sets of fans on message boards. Some Aggie fans are living in the past, pretending that opposing teams never win at Kyle Field, Mizzou’s win over Texas Tech was a fluke and the Aggies will win in a blowout on Saturday. Not to be outdone, many Mizzou fans have suddenly developed a superiority complex, refusing to believe the Tigers could possibly lose on Saturday and it is disrespectful for anyone to say otherwise.

The truth is somewhere in the middle (Born-a-Tiger will sort some of that out in his Myth and Fact piece). I personally think Mizzou will win on Saturday if the Tigers play their best game, but it certainly won’t be a blow-out. Most people are latching on to Texas Tech comparisons to make their predictions: Aggie fans point out that Tech “handed the game to Missouri” with five turnovers and A&M actually held the Red Raiders to fewer yards. Mizzou fans point out that the Tigers won by 17 on the road in Lubbock while the Aggies lost at home. In reality, the games can’t really be compared. Because of the turnovers, Tech ran 77 plays against Mizzou compared to 56 plays against A&M. Yes, the Tigers gave up more yards (456 to 433), but they only gave up 5.9 yards/play compared with 7.7 yards/play for the Aggies. That’s the beauty of statistics… look long enough and you can find one that backs up your opinion.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a great game this weekend. Contrary to some of the garbage that has been posted on the net this week, Missouri and Texas A&M are both great schools with great traditions. This is a big game for both teams, so let’s all bury the hatchet and hope for an exciting, safe game for both sides… and then we can focus all our negative energy on t.u. and kansas. Now, on to the teams:

Offense:

When the Aggies have the ball:

If A&M is smart, their game plan will revolve around pounding the ball in the rushing game via RBs Jorvorski Lane (who is an absolute beast) and Mike Goodson (the quicker back) and QB Steven McGee. The Aggies boast the No. 13 rushing attack in the nation, averaging 203 yards/game on the ground. The Tigers counter with the No. 10 run defense. Something has to give… but it’s hard to be sure what to make of either side. A&M has compiled its stats against Army (56th best defense), Louisiana Tech (118), UL-L (87), Texas Tech (30) and kansas (83). Meanwhile, Mizzou has yet to face a legit rushing attack: Ole Miss (56), Ohio (95), Colorado (44), Tech (104), NM (102).

McGee, the reigning Big XII Offensive Player of the Week, has also shown the ability to throw the ball well (see: his game-winning drive last week against the beakers) and has a talented corps of wide receivers, headlined by TE Martellus Bennett. Up front it will be strength vs. strength as the solid A&M O-line goes up against the dangerous Mizzou defensive line.

Look for the Aggies to grind it out and try to keep Mizzou’s high-powered offense off the field as much as possible. But don’t be surprised to see them mix in some deep pass plays to keep the Tigers honest… and with Coach Fran, you never know when a trick play might be coming.

When Mizzou has the ball:

Contrary to what many think, the Tigers have a balanced attack, averaging 179 yards/game on the ground (25th nationally) and 244 yards/game through the air (29th nationally). That adds up to a unit ranked No. 15 in total offense. The Tigers will be facing off against the nation’s No. 35 defensive unit… but those stats include three games against teams with offenses ranked above 80th. I think the Tigers will be able to move the ball against A&M. The Aggies seem to be under the mistaken impression that the Mizzou offense relies solely on short passes, kind of like Texas Tech. If they crowd near the line to take away short routes, they will be introduced rather rudely to Wiliam Franklin and Jared Perry. Regardless, just like Bennett on the other side, I can’t see the Aggies matching up favorably against TEs Rucker and Coffman. Oh… and I haven’t yet mentioned Tony Temple and Chase Daniel (who gets kinda angry when he plays Texas teams).

QB Advantage: Mizzou

RB Advantage: TAMU

O-Line Advantage: TAMU

Receiving Advantage: Mizzou

Overall offense: Mizzou

Defense

On defense, A&M runs an unorthodox 4-2-5 after getting destroyed by opposing passing attacks last season. The Aggies are strong up front with defensive ends Harrington and Jack. Tiger fans should also keep an eye out for linebacker Justin Warren, who has been a tackling machine this season. Despite improvements from last year, the weakness still lies in the secondary, which is great news for Chase Daniel and Co. The Aggie defense is solid, but they don’t compare favorably to the nation’s No. 11 defense. The Tigers, with a superb defensive line, excellent linebackers and a solid secondary, have allowed just 11.8 points/game this year. One of the keys to the game will be the possible return of DT Ziggy Hood. If Ziggy is back, A&M will have a tougher time running the ball.

DL Advantage: Mizzou

LB Advantage: Mizzou

Secondary Advantage: Mizzou

Overall defense: Mizzou

Special Teams

Here’s the painful part about being a fan of both A&M and Mizzou: You have to watch them play special teams. Mizzou has looked better in recent weeks (in fact, the only big return they gave up against Tech was because Crossett outkicked his coverage), but you never know when we might return to the days of the 10-yard punt. Wolfert has been pretty solid on field goals for the Tigers, but I still hold my breath any time the field goal team trots onto the field. The one thing I will say is that Mizzou has blocked a lot of kicks this year. As for the Aggies, things aren’t much better… though Kerry Franks has shown he has the potential to be dangerous in the return game. Given that this is a big game for him, don’t be surprised to see Coach Fran pull out a fake kick at some point on Saturday.

Advantage: Even… in a bad way.

Bottom line

I think this will be a close game and the Aggies are very capable of winning it if they can move the ball effectively on the ground. It’s not like it was in the early ‘90s, but it’s still never easy to go into Kyle Field and come out with a win. If TAMU keeps the Tiger offense off the field and holds them under 20 points, they will win. But I don’t think it will happen. I’m picking the Tigers to continue their magical season and come back to Columbia for Homecoming next weekend with a 7-0 record. Mizzou wins it, 31-24.

A rant from a fellow Mizzou fan

From the mouth of SEMO Tiger, a friend of Born-A-Tiger's and former contemporary of Rocky Mountain Tiger-All we're asking for is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T:

"After listening to "experts" claim for weeks that Missouri hadn't beaten anybody and therefore couldn't be that good, I had a feeling a new excuse was coming after the Tigers blitzed through Texas Tech. And that new excuse is that Texas Tech handed the game to Missouri and that the Tigers will get their wake-up call at Texas A&M.
How exactly did Texas Tech hand us that game? Sure, the Red Raiders turned the ball over five times. But, last I checked, defenses have a lot to do with turnovers. There are such things as gift turnovers, of course. A botched snap is one that a defense doesn't cause, but the Red Raiders had none of those. Colorado's punter dropping the ball against Mizzou earlier this year was a freebie, but Texas Tech refused to punt for the most part, so there went that one. Most sports fans remember Larry Brown winning a Super Bowl MVP thanks entirely to two gift interceptions thrown right at him and nowhere near a wide receiver. But, neither of Graham Harrell's picks fall under this category, either.
Nope, Mizzou's defense is the reason the Tigers won that game — along with some help from Chase Daniel and the offense in putting together the biggest drive in recent Missouri history to answer when Tech pulled within 24-21. The Tigers harassed Harrell into a pitiful performance, one that included him being pulled alongside Red Raiders' coach Mike Leach to see how easy it is to pick apart a defense. The two interceptions were both caused by great defensive plays — one caused by pressure from Brock Christopher forcing Harrell to throw the ball quickly and right into the waiting hands of Xzavie Jackson, who made a great play in smelling out the play; the other just a phenomenal job by William Moore in reading Harrell's eyes and jumping the route. Harrell's three fumbles were the result of consistent pressure. The first popping loose when Marcus Bacon grabbed a hold of Harrell's arm as the Tech QB readied to throw; the second coming out when Brian Smith stripped Harrell, only to watch Harrell scoop the ball up and get stripped again — this time by Lorenzo Williams; the third forced on a Jackson sack. Every single one caused by Tiger pressure. Plus, if Tech was handing us the game, I doubt if Harrell scoops that second one back up.
For the Aggies, if Tech's offense likes to just give away possessions, why did the Wrecking Crew only come away with one fumble?
It's probably because no team just loses possession, repeatedly. The other team's defense forces miscues. Mizzou's does. Which is a large part of why this Tiger team is for real.
The other reason why Mizzou is good, damn good, for the first time since before any of us were alive is as simple as two letters: T.M. Chase Daniel indeed is The Man. He may not measure up in height and he may be a little stocky, but what all those Texas coaches couldn't measure and ignored, was the fact that T.M. is a winner. He makes everyone else on the team better. He knows how to get the best out of each — yelling at some, coddling others. As great as Brad Smith was, he wasn't a leader and he didn't make the other Tigers better. Rather, they stood around and watched as he put on marvelous displays of individual greatness. That is something Chase Daniel can not do. He won't dazzle as an individual, but he is putting on a dazzling performance of greatness — it's called the revitalization of the Missouri football program. His leadership can be summed up best by safety Pig Brown: "It is to the point where if I have Chase Daniel on my team, I'm pretty sure I'm going to win."
To Every True Son, I say, In Chase We Trust."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


This was the scene at last year's MU-NU game in Columbia. Even though the Tigers couldn't pull it out, we had a ton of fun. Let's break the attendance record again this season!

MU-NU Volleyball Preview

By Tiger Fan

The football team’s surprising 6-0 start has been dominating the Mizzou sports headlines – and deservedly so. But the biggest sporting event in Columbia so far this year is taking place at the Hearnes Center Wednesday night. The undefeated, No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers come calling to take on No. 15 Mizzou. That’s right, it’s Mizzou vs. Nebraska on Oct. 11. If that date sounds familiar to you (and it should), that’s because it has been exactly three years since the Tiger football team ended 25 years of futility against Nebraska. Can the same thing happen tomorrow? Let’s hope so… but it would be a huge upset. How huge? The Tigers are 3-61 all-time against Nebraska, NU has won the last 21 matches in Columbia (dating back to 1982) and the Huskers have won 50 of their last 52 overall.

The odds may seem insurmountable, but that’s where the fans come in. Last year I made the trip to Columbia from St. Louis on a Wednesday night with Born-a-Tiger and Rocky Mountain Tiger to watch this game and had a blast. It was the most fun I had a Mizzou sporting event all last year. You know if the No. 1 football team in the country came calling, you would be there. So if you are anywhere near Columbia tomorrow night, get to the match. It starts at 6:30 CST. Let’s break 7,300… shoot, break 8,000. Screw it: Hearnes holds 13,611 people. There will be plenty of room. Try to fill it up. By the way, it’s “Can the Huskers” night, so you get in free with two canned goods. And the first 400 students get free pizza. There just aren’t many excuses to miss it, folks.

But if for some reason you can’t be there (like me… I’ve got class at Wash U), catch it on TV. Fox Sports Midwest is carrying the game in St. Louis, KZOU in Columbia and MetroSports in KC. Since most folks probably don’t follow college volleyball too closely, here are a few things to be aware of before Wednesday’s big match:

Five things to know about the Tigers…

  1. In case you have been living in a hole, let me introduce you to Wayne and Susan Kreklow. Most Mizzou fans have spent the last six years whining about Quin Snyder or calling for Gary Pinkel’s head, blissfully unaware that the biggest athletic turnaround at the school was quietly taking place at the Hearnes Center. It’s hard to believe that just six years ago, the Tigers were at the bottom of the Big XII. Mizzou’s volleyball team had been in shambles since the early ‘80s, but it didn’t take the Kreklows long to turn things around. The Tigers have posted 20-win seasons in five of their first six years at Mizzou and earned the school’s first-ever postseason win in 2002. They may have been overlooked at first, but it’s not a secret anymore… look no further than the attendance figures and the win-loss record.
  2. The 2005 campaign was the most successful season in Mizzou volleyball history. The Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament for the first time, knocking off perennial power Hawaii before losing to Tennessee. The Tigers finished the season No. 8 in the country with a 25-5 record. Two of those losses came to Nebraska.
  3. The star of last year’s team was Mizzou’s first-ever AVCA All-American Lindsey Hunter, but now that she has graduated, you might be wondering how Mizzou can replace her. Of course, we also thought there was no way to replace Brad Smith. Here are some names to know: Senior Jessica Vander Kooi, who was an honorable mention All-American a year ago, leads the team and was named to the preseason All-Big XII. Tatum Ailes is the reigning Big XII Libero of the Year. And last but not least, keep an eye out for Nicole Wilson, who was also an honorable mention All-American last season.
  4. The Hearnes Center is quickly becoming one of the toughest places in the country to play. The Tigers ranked 6th in the nation last year in attendance and had a record crowd of 7,298 for last year’s game against the Huskers. Mizzou ranks No. 8 in attendance this year and is currently in the midst of an 11-game home winning streak. The student section, known as Volley Zou, is seated close to the action and is developing a reputation for intimidating opposing teams who aren’t used to getting heckled on the road. Let’s keep it going and rattle the Huskers!
  5. Something to keep an eye on… Nicole Wilson and her sister, RS freshman Megan Wilson are both from Lincoln, Ailes is from Bellevue, NE, and RS freshman Amanda Hantouli is from Omaha. Do you think these girls will be pumped up to take on the Huskers? You bet.

Five things to know about Nebraska

  1. Nebraska annually fields one of the top teams in the nation. The Huskers are currently ranked No. 1 in the country and come to Columbia with a perfect 15-0 record. Despite all their success (eight final four visits and 22 NCAA tournament appearances), they have won only two national titles (1995 and 2000). Hmmm… lots of hype, lots of conference titles, lots of Final Fours, but unable to win the big one... this reminds me of someone… oh yeah, kU basketball. And if that comparison doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what will.
  2. The Huskers boasted three first-team All-Americans last season and two of them are back. Senior Christina Houghtelling was the AVCA Player of the Year last year and 6’5” junior Sarah Pavan was named a first-team All-American for the second straight year in 2005. Of course, I’m a little confused on how Pavan can be an all-American… ‘cause she’s from Canada.
  3. Nebraska has only dropped three games all year and have yet to be pushed to a five-game match (for those who are new to college volleyball, it’s a best of five affair… the Huskers usually win 3-0). While impressive, it should be noted that they have only faced three top 25 foes: No. 23 Minnesota, No. 22 San Diego and No. 20 Cal Poly. Mizzou should be their hardest test to date. The good news? The Tigers have also played three top 25 teams: No. 2 Penn State, No. 10 Texas and No. 17 Santa Clara. The bad news? Mizzou lost to Penn State and Santa Clara.
  4. Despite a 35-1 record and a roster packed with All-Americans, the Huskers were swept three games to none in last year’s national title match against Washington.
  5. Nebraska has two players named “Dani” and one named “Kori.” I don’t know about you, but I can stand that insufferable “i” at the end. I’ll just assume they dot it with a little heart. But here’s the real question: nobody named “Brandi” or “Traci” playing volleyball in Nebraska?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Ha ha... Tech fans react after the second consecutive interception return for a touchdown. A 38-21 victory at Texas Tech and a 6-0 start? Seriously? You bet... Go Tigers!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 10 basketball plays

By Tiger Fan

All right Tiger fans, I know we're all pretty excited about the football team's success, but we can't forget that basketball season is right around the corner. Mizzou Madness tips off the season next Friday and the first exhibition game is less than a month away (Nov. 3 vs. UMR). I know we've been down on the basketball team in recent years, but I think the arrival of Mike Anderson is the beginning of an exciting new era of basketball at Mizzou. So, to get everyone pumped up, here's a look back at the 10 best plays of the past five seasons. Enjoy!

10. Clarence Gilbert wins the Guardians Classic at the free throw line – Nov. 21, 2001
Gilbert hit 1-of-2 free throws with .8 seconds left to give the No. 5 Tigers an amazing come-from-behind win over No. 9 Iowa. Admittedly, the play itself was not all that exciting, but it was the culmination of wild final minute that saw the Mizzou overcome a 77-71 with 41 seconds to play. After 3s from Kareem Rush and Rickey Paulding, Gilbert’s 27th point of the night gave the Tigers a 78-77 victory that the folks in Iowa City are still angry about.

9. Marshall Brown seals a victory over Indiana with a 360 dunk – Dec. 19, 2004
Yes, it was ill-advised. And yes, it was unnecessary. But man was it fun to see him throw it down and hear Mizzou Arena really explode for the first time. After trailing by as many as 17, the Tigers took a one-point lead on a Linas Kleiza free throw with less than a minute to play. Indiana got one last chance, but Bracey Wright was stripped going down the lane and Brown got the ball on a breakaway. He threw down a one-handed 360 dunk with less than a second to play and pandemonium ensued.

8. Wesley Stokes beats SLU at the buzzer – Dec. 3, 2001
If you followed the 2001-02 team at all, you knew what was supposed to happen with the game tied at 67 and 4.8 seconds to play. Get the ball to Rush or Gilbert. But when Wesley Stokes saw the floor open up in front of him, he went for it. The result was a tough 18-footer at the buzzer to give Mizzou a 69-67 win in St. Louis. I was watching this one at Buffalo Wild Wings in Columbia and the place erupted. I remember hugging people I didn’t know. Great moment… still gives me chills.

7. Travon Bryant beats the buzzer in the Big XII Tourney – March 14, 2003
Speaking of unexpected heroes… Mizzou and Oklahoma State we tied at 58 with 35 seconds to play in the Big XII quarterfinals. Jimmy McKinney drove for the game-winner but the ball was knocked away. It went off two OSU players and straight into the hands of Bryant, who instinctively put up the short jumper. The buzzer sounded as the ball rattled off three sides of the rim and in. That set up a semifinal date with the beakers. This shot always reminds me why dorm life is fun sometimes. We were sitting around, eating pizza and on the edge of our seats watching this one. Bryant’s game winner sent us spilling into the hallway in celebration.


6. A half-court heave by he who shall not be named – Feb. 1, 2003

If had come from someone other than the infamous No. 0 (cough, Clemons, cough), it would be even higher. With the No. 25 Tigers trailing Colorado 35-34 just before the half, Clemons took the pass off a missed free thrown, raced down the floor and buried a running half-court heave as the buzzer sounded. The entire place went insane. The game was over right then… no need to play the second half. A Colorado player later commented that it sounded like a bomb went off. If I recall correctly, the cheering continued for several minutes after the teams left the floor. As an interesting side note, a photographer for the Columbia Tribune actually captured this moment of euphoria... but you may remember that the athletic department came under scrutiny the next year for using that picture in its media guide. See, the thing is, the AD put their PhotoShop skills to work and removed Mr. Clemons from the picture. In so doing, they actually cut yours truly out of the picture and superimposed our good friend Yellow Suit Guy into the pic for the second time. Ah yes, Mizzou: We’re on the Move.

5. Gardner lights up kU – Jan. 16, 2006
It’s hard to pick out a single play from Gardner’s 40-point explosion against the beakers last year. I thought about including Moody’s Misses on this list, but it was depressing to think that one of the best Mizzou plays of the last five years was a guy from kU missing some free throws. So it has to be Gardner’s 3-pointer that tied the game with 5.6 seconds to play. It was the final basket in a wild seven-point comeback by the Tigers in the final 30 seconds. This was probably the craziest game I have ever been too… and it was amazing.

4. Kevin Young sets the tone against OU – Feb. 26, 2003
He only scored two points… but what an awesome two points they were. Young, a freshman at the time, got a rare start at power forward alongside Arthur Johnson and took full advantage. Just 16 seconds into the game, Young backed down All-American candidate Jabahri Brown and dunked it right in his face. The crowd went nuts and the tone was set. The Tigers went on to a 15-point route of No. 3 Oklahoma, 67-52. Young later said, “"That dunk wasn't a matter of being focused; it was matter of wanting to win.”

3. Paulding learns to fly against Ohio State – March 16, 2006
This is the first of a Rickey Paulding trifecta to top the list:


It may not look like much in the live version, but make sure you see the slow-motion replay. Paulding takes off from near the foul line and throws it down with authority. Unbelievable. This one had special meaning for me because I’m from Ohio and all my OSU friends had been talking smack. As I’m sure you know, the No. 12-seed Tigers went on to beat the Buckeyes 83-67 and advance to the Sweet 16.

2. Paulding jumps over a K-State player… literally – Feb. 28, 2004
The Tigers were trailing 39-31 with 17:07 to play in Manhattan when Paulding got the ball and dunked over (and I mean over) Frank Richards. Here’s the play:


The dunk sparked Mizzou to a 76-69 win. It also caused a bit of an uproar in Wildcat country because Richards was called for a blocking foul, rather than a charge on Paulding. They may have a point… but watch it again. Can you really punish a guy who just jumped over someone? I think not.

1. Ridiculous half-court alley-oop from Stokes to Paulding – Dec. 15, 2001
It’s the only play on the list that didn’t lead the Tigers to victory, but it’s still the best play I’ve seen in the last five years. During the first half of a game between No. 2 Mizzou and No. 15 Iowa, Stokes brought the ball up the floor and around mid-court, heaved it toward the student section. Paulding came out of nowhere, grabbed it and slammed it home with one hand over the top of Iowa’s Reggie Evans. I was in the front row of Zou Crew that day and I distinctly remember Paulding’s feet flying past my face before he got the ball. Simply an incredible play. As you can tell from the pic below (click on it for a larger version), the standing room only crowd loved it. But unfortunately, the Tigers still lost in a big way, 83-65.

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by Mark Schiefelbein

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let the tortillas fly...

By Tiger Fan

This Saturday’s game in Lubbock could be the turning point of the Tigers’ season. Okay, okay… I’ve said this before, but I mean it this time. Seriously. A win against the Red Raiders could propel Mizzou to heights that, well, quite frankly, we never imagined before the season began. A loss would prove to all the prognosticators and so-called experts that Mizzou’s best start since 1981 can be attributed to an easy schedule, not a good team. At that point, we’d be right back where we started. An average team with average expectations.

Frankly, I’m not sure the Tigers can get it done on the road this week, but I don’t see that as the harbinger of doom that some fans seem to. Before the season, few would have predicted a Tiger win against Texas Tech. Now folks are acting like it’s a must-win game. An important game? Yes. A must-win? No way… even if the Tigers lose, they are still ahead of where many predicted at this point in the season.

The Tigers are 3-2 all-time against Tech. The last meeting was the famed 62-31 Mizzou victory in Columbia… the year before that was a 52-38 win for Tech. This year Vegas favors the Red Raiders by 4. Tech is No. 24 in the USA Today poll and Mizzou is No. 25. It doesn’t get much closer than this. Let’s break it down:

Coach

Mike Leach is in his seventh season as head coach. He has a 52-29 overall record, including a 9-3 mark last year, which was good enough for second in the south. There’s no doubt that Leach has turned things around in Lubbock. The bigger enigma in the coaching comparison is Pinkel. Since his arrival in Columbia, he has been known as a tough guy with the media and a coach who fails to make in-game adjustments. We’ve all seen Pinkel get out-coached and we’ve all seen him blow big leads. But so far this year, it’s like Mizzou has a whole new coach. Pinkel is so comfortable with the media that he actually gave FOX his first eight plays last week and brought a cake to a presser earlier this season. Despite sub-par starts against Ohio and Colorado, the team made good adjustments at halftime (particularly on the defensive end) and pulled away in the second half. Is it a new era or the result of mediocre opposition? We’ll find out on Saturday. But let’s remember, last time these two faced off, Pinkel tore the Raiders apart with an awesome game plan on the way to a 62-31 beat down. Until Leach responds, I’m giving the edge to Mizzou.

Advantage: Mizzou

Offense

Anyone who has paid any attention to the Red Raiders since Leach took over seven seasons ago knows that Texas Tech is going to throw the ball early and often. Tech has led the NCAA in passing each of the last four years and is on track to contend for the title again. The Raiders boast the No. 3 passing attack in the nation, led by sophomore QB Graham Harrell in his first year as a starter. Harrell has a solid corps of receivers to throw to, including senior Robert Johnson (who pulled in three TDs against A&M last week), senior Joel Filani (who averages 89.2 receiving yards/game), and senior Jarrett Hicks (a preseason all-conference selection who was recently reinstated by the NCAA). MU has its own talented receiving corps, but the difference could be the Tiger running game. Tech is ranked 104th in rushing offense, while Mizzou brings a more balanced attack to the table: 21st in rushing and 21st in passing. If Tony Temple and Co. can get going, they could have a lot of success against a Tech defense that ranks 77th against the run. I think that is one of the keys to Saturday’s game. So what do all these numbers add up to? Offensive production that has been almost identical: Tech puts up 33.8 points/game as opposed to Mizzou’s 33.4. Looks like the first team to 30 will probably win. I think Tech has the advantage on offense, but here’s something to keep in mind: The Red Raiders have put up the bulk of their yards against defensive units that rank 113th (SMU) 119th (UTEP), 46th (A&M) and 110th (TCU) against the pass.

Advantage: Texas Techbut not by much. If it was in Columbia, I might go with the Tigers. It’s that close.

Defense

The other key to Saturday’s game will be whether the Tiger defense can stand up to its first real test. Mizzou currently ranks No. 2 nationally in total defense, but they have yet to face a team like Tech. If the Tigers can live up to their No. 10 pass ranking, they will win. Mark it down. But that’s a big if. The Red Raider defense has allowed just 15.4 points/game so far and ranks No. 9 nationally against the pass. The unit is led by DE Keyunta Dawson, who led the team last year in sacks and tackles for a loss. Dawson was named a second-team all-conference player before the season. It’s a solid unit, but I think the Tigers are better.

Advantage: Mizzou

Special Teams

Tech has a solid kicker in Alex Trlica, who needs just five points to become the school’s all-time leading scoring leader for a kicker. In all likelihood, he’ll reach that mark Saturday against the Tigers. The Red Raiders also have an experienced punt returner in Danny Amendola, who has 907 career return yards. The Tigers answer with a serviceable kicker in Wolfert and a continuing adventure in the return game. This seems like a no-brainer.

Advantage: Texas Tech

Bottom Line

Even if the Tiger D brings its A-game, expect a high-scoring affair. The over/under is 55, but these two teams have averaged 66.6 points/game in their first five meetings. If Mizzou’s D-line can rattle the young QB and Temple can establish the running game, I like our chances. But I’m going to pick Tech on Homecoming in a shootout, 34-31. I’m also going to hope I’m wrong for the first time this season.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Your Saturday game preview

It’s almost game time, Tiger fans. Time to get up. Really. Seriously. Stop worrying, stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. It isn’t. At least not this week against Colorado. Trust me – the Tigers are going to exterminate the Buffaloes on Saturday even more completely than westward-expanding Americans did in the 1900s. And I’m going to tell you why.

TigerFan is in Columbus trying to convince a law firm to employ him for the summer, so you’ll get my take of things this week. Hey, it was either that or let Fanette handle the gig, and I don’t think anyone wants that, do we?

All right, let’s get to business:

MU’s offense vs. CU’s defense – Colorado’s D is by far the strength of this team. It’s front seven is fast and formidable, and its safeties are pretty good, too. Defensive tackle George Hypolite was a terror against Georgia, and his impact must be limited. The Buffs held Arizona State in check and shut down Georgia’s offense until late. But according to my sources (and unlike Chris Mortenson, I actually have them), Rudy Carpenter isn’t nearly as good as we all thought before the season, and that Georgia’s offense is extremely mediocre … I see four keys for Mizzou’s offense to line Colorado up in the sights of its buffalo gun:
1) Chase Daniel must limit his mistakes. Chase hasn’t been as accurate the past two weeks, and he must regain that form for Mizzou’s offense to hum. No picks, and no fumbles, either, please. (Can you pass that memo to Marcus Woods, please? And maybe show him how to call for a fair catch?)
2) The offensive line must come up big. This will be by far the most talented line and linebacking group Missouri has faced, and the men in the trenches must give Daniel time to throw and also create some creases for Tony Temple. Keep an eye on youngster Ryan Madison, who needs to help center Adam Spieker and Monte Wyrick keep Hypolite in check. If the line can give Daniel time, the Tigers should be able to hit a deep throw or two to a receiver on a double-move.
3) The receivers and backs must take care of the ball. This team is good enough to get away with a negative turnover margin in nonconference play, but that will kill them in Big 12 play. (Side note: we should be relieved that Mizzou now is good enough to overcome such mistakes in nonconference play – they would have killed the Tigers in the past).
4) Missouri must use the tight ends to open up the middle and draw attention from safeties and linebackers. This open up the short passing game with the receiver

Advantage: Missouri. Colorado’s D is very good, but Missouri is balanced enough to and post 21-30 points if it executes efficiently.

CU’s offense vs. MU’s defense – Colorado’s offense has been horrible this year, and we all know what MU’s defense has done (for those of you who don’t: No. 1 in the nation). Colorado quarterback Bernard Jackson is a great runner, but he has struggled throwing the ball this year, and the receivers aren’t imposing. Center Mark Fenton, the team’s best lineman, also is questionable for the game as I write this. This matchup does not break CU’s way: scrambling quarterbacks generally have a tough time against cover 2 schemes, and that’s exactly what Missouri runs. The defensive line must shut down Colorado’s running game by itself for the Tigers’ D to be most effective, and it has the depth and talent to do so. But don’t fear: Even if the Tigers are forced to play David Overstreet or Brandon Massey in the box as an extra run defender, Darnell Terrell, Dom Johnson and Hardy Ricks are more than capable of shutting down the Colorado receivers in one-on-one matchups.
Advantage: Missouri. Jackson will make a few big plays with his feet, but as long as Missouri stays fundamentally sound in its scheme and tackling, Colorado should continue to have problems moving the chains.

Special Teams – Colorado has Mason Crosby, which is enough to tip this matchup the Buffs’ way. But Jeff Wolfert has been steady as Mizzou’s placekicker, and kicker-turned-punter Adam Crossett has showed a nice leg and an ability to pin teams deep. I’d say something about CU’s punting game, but does anyone really care?
Advantage: Colorado. Two words: Mason. Crosby.

Coaching – I hate to say it, but I’m starting to believe a little in Gary Pinkel. Missouri actually made adjustments at halftime last week, and the result was a dominating performance by the defense in the second half. Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is great, there’s no doubt, and normally I’d give him the edge here, but I think the fact that he doesn’t have his own players yet limits his impact on the offense. He has breathed life into his defense, but he’d need a trip from Barry Bonds’ training staff to bulk up the offense.

Advantage: Even. Pinkel has his system in place, and it’s amazing how much better he looks with a QB that can chuck it. MU’s playcalling still could use some help, but Hawkins’ has exactly turned this offense into a world beater, either.

Prediction:
Missouri is too talented and deep on defense for Colorado’s undermanned offense to be a true threat. The only way Missouri blows this game is if they have several turnovers in Crosby field-goal range and are unable to move the ball against the Buffs’ D. Don’t see that happening.

Missouri goes to 5-0 on the year with a 31-13 win, and we never hear rumors about Gary Barnett becoming the coach at Missouri again.