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...
...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...