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.

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...

...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


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.


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.