Missouri got its rushing game untracked, with 236 yards and 5 TDs on the ground on 38 rushing attempts (6.2 yds./carry). Actually, Missouri rushed the ball even better than that. Those numbers include several attempts by James Franklin, who ran four QB sneaks in a row late in the game, and 9 rushing attempts for 20 yards by Blaine Gabbert. The four Missouri TBs rushed for 204 yards on 21 carries for an average of 9.7 yds./carry.
The Missouri defense forced three turnovers, scored a TD, and held the visitors to a paltry 2.1 yards per carry on the ground. Miami (OH) racked up 98 of their 316 yards of total offense, 6 of their 19 first downs, and scored their lone TD, in the fourth quarter against Missouri's back-ups, long after the outcome of this game was in doubt.
Missouri took control of this game from the outset, when Carl Gettis scooped up a fumble on Miami's (OH) first play from scrimmage, and raced into the end zone to put Missouri up 7-0 with 14:52 remaining in the first quarter. Missouri closed out the first period with a 21-0 lead, and began to substitute liberally during the third quarter. Sixty-three players saw game action for the Tigers on Saturday. Coach Pinkel reflected on his team's win.
"I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball," said Coach Pinkel. "Because of the score, we got to play a lot of players. That's a plus. I was disappointed in the penalties, and in the errors in the kicking game. There's some things to work on, and get better at, but I thought overall, it was a good game."
Missouri's offensive line enjoyed a great day, often opening gaping holes that allowed the Missouri TBs to get into the secondary untouched. Ten offensive linemen played for Missouri, including walk-ons Kirk Lakebrink and Max Copeland. Miami (OH) Head Coach Mike Haywood praised Missouri Offensive Coordinator, David Yost, for his play calling, and his willingness to run the football. Coach Pinkel talked about the value of a balanced offensive attack.
"The better that you can run the ball in the spread offense," explained Coach Pinkel, "the better the offense works."
Several defenders played very well for Missouri, including defensive MVP, junior safety Kenji Jackson. Jackson seemed to be around the ball all day, and delivered a number of crunching hits among his team-leading 13 tackles. He was in on the fumble-causing hit on the game's first play from scrimmage, and knocked the ball out at least one other time, as well.
Brad Madison and Michael Sam alternated snaps at DE in place of Aldon Smith, and each turned in big plays. Zaviar Gooden bounced back from a sub-par game against San Diego State, and collected 7 tackles, and a fumble recovery. He also performed well defending the pass. In fact, the entire number one defense played very well, and that was without three starters, including the All-American candidate, Aldon Smith. All of the injured players should be back for the Colorado game, although the timing of Smith's return is less certain.
Blaine Gabbert completed 15 of 21 passes for 187 yards and 1 TD, against 1 INT. He took a sack, and forced a few throws. Gabbert found Wes Kemp 3 times, including the 33 yard TD reception. The rest of his completions were to the inside receivers, so it was good to see him hook up with Kemp on the outside. Coach Pinkel indicated that an emphasis going forward will be to try to get the ball down field more in the passing game, to help to stretch the field, and open up the running game.
Gabbert appears to be staying locked onto his inside receivers, which are usually his first two reads in the progression. The opposition knows it, and perhaps more importantly, so does the Missouri coaching staff. On the TD to Kemp, Wes was the primary receiver, following a run fake. It looked to me like that play call was part of their half-time adjustments, designed to take advantage of what was observed during the first half.
Franklin's first pass attempt was a 27 yard completion on the outside to Brandon Gerau. Without looking at the replay, I can't say whether Gerau was the primary receiver on that play, or if Franklin got to Gerau in reading the progressions.
This is unquestionably something that Blaine Gabbert is going to have to improve upon if the Tigers are going to realize their full potential, but I also think that if the Tigers can continue to have success in their running game, then the coaching staff can make the offense work, utilizing what Gabbert does do well.