Game Week Preview: Missouri Tigers

A detailed look at the Tigers as they get ready to battle the Cornhuskers in Lincoln this Saturday

On Saturday afternoon (2:30 P.M., ABC) in Lincoln, the #6 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0) will take on the #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1) in the game that will likely determine which of these two teams will win the Big 12 North, and earn the right to play in the final Big 12 Championship game.

Missouri comes into this game off of a 36-27 Homecoming victory over Oklahoma that boosted Missouri's overall strength of schedule to #30 in the latest rankings, according to Jeff Sagarin. Among the remaining undefeated teams, Missouri's strength of schedule ranks second. On Monday, Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini talked about Missouri.

"Missouri's a well coached football team," said Coach Pelini. "It's always a challenge to play this football team. It's a very well coached football team that executes well."

In each of Missouri's last two games, at Texas A&M, and against Oklahoma, the Tigers' offense has functioned more consistently. The offensive line is coming off of their best game of the year, and QB Blaine Gabbert is playing his best football. The Tigers have diversified their offense, by running the ball more effectively, and by spreading the ball around. Offensive improvement is a continuing trend for this team, just as is improvement in every area of the team.

On the season, Gabbert is 181-269-3, for a completion percentage of 67.3%, 10.5 yards/completion, 271.3 yards/game, 11 TDs, and an efficiency rating of 137.85.

Missouri's 12 TD receptions are equally divided between each of the Tigers' top four receivers. And, through seven games, each of Missouri's top four receivers have at least 27 receptions, and over 300 yards receiving. The improving quartet of junior TE Michael Egnew (8 receptions/game, 7.9 yards/reception, 3 TDs), junior WRs Wes Kemp (3.9 receptions/game, 11.2 yards/reception, 3 TDs), and Jerrell Jackson (4.5 receptions/game, 14.3 yards/reception, 3 TDs), and sophomore WR T.J. Moe (7.6 receptions/game, 11.8 yards/reception, 3 TDs) provides Missouri with a receiving corps that allows Gabbert multiple options in a diversified attack.

To add even more balance to Missouri's diversified attack, the Tigers are doing a better job of running the football. Freshman Henry Josey (6.4 yards/carry) has emerged as the Tigers' leading rusher within Missouri's running-back-by-committee approach. Junior De'Vion Moore (5.5 yards/carry) and sophomore Kendial Lawrence (4.5 yards/carry) are both playing regularly. And, freshman Marcus Murphy (6.4 yards/carry) has been seeing more action of late.

One key ingredient to Missouri's improved offensive play has been the play of the offensive line. They're providing Gabbert with maximal protection, as well as opening running lanes for the Tigers' backs. Coach Pelini talked about the challenge of playing Missouri's offense.

"They do a lot of things well," said Coach Pelini. "They're well coached. I think they have good balance, run and pass. It's well thought out. They attack you in a number of different ways. It's a challenge. You have to execute what you're trying to get done. You can't load up one way or the other."

Missouri's defense has been about as stingy as you can get. After holding Oklahoma's high-powered offense to more than ten points below their season's average, the Tigers fell to #5 nationally (1st in Big 12), in scoring defense (13.1 points/game). However, a closer look reveals some interesting data. Of the four teams currently surrending fewer points on the season than Missouri, only Alabama (SOS #46) has played a schedule that is ranked in the top 60.

Missouri leads the Big 12 (#9 NCAA) in QB sacks (3 sacks/game), and is number one in the country in red-zone defensive efficiency; Missouri's opponents have come away with no points a remarkable 48% of the time in their red-zone opportunities.

In total defense, Missouri ranks #38 (339.1 yards/game) nationally. Here again, a closer look is more revealing. Because Missouri runs substantially more plays than traditional ball-control, defensively oriented teams, yards per game is not as accurate of a reading of Missouri's true defensive prowess. Looking at yards per play, Missouri's 4.74 yards/play allowed places Missouri in a tie for #25, comparable to Alabama, Iowa, and Michigan State, all teams who have played a weaker schedule than Missouri.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly this week, Missouri's defense against the rush (114.6 yards/game, 3.56 yards/carry) is ranked #23 nationally (2nd Big 12), which is behind only Texas A&M within the conference.

"You'd like to think that we're getting better against the run," said Coach Pinkel. "But again, every week is a different test. Certainly, we've done some really good things on defense. We've got a lot of good players who can run, and hit. And, we're playing very good team defense."

Not to be overlooked, Missouri's special teams have been very good, and have played an important part in the Tigers' overall success this season. Missouri is a complete team, and is playing well in all phases. On Monday, it was pointed out to Coach Pinkel that his team is playing it's best at the most crucial time in the season.

"Well, I think one thing is that we're getting better as a team," Coach Pinkel responded. "Maybe that describes our football team a little bit. I think we play well as a team together. I think we have a real close football team. But, our team's better than it was three weeks ago. And, I think we keep improving, and I think that's really important."

Missouri Overall Team Statistics (as of Oct 24, 2010)

All games

Team Statistics MU OPP

FIRST DOWNS 160 132

Rushing 53 44 Passing 100 74 Penalty 7 14

RUSHING YARDAGE 969 802 Yards gained rushing 1119 1002 Yards lost rushing 150 200 Rushing Attempts 220 225 Average Per Rush 4.4 3.6 Average Per Game 138.4 114.6 TDs Rushing 15 4

PASSING YARDAGE 2005 1572 Comp-Att-Int 192-283-4 165-276-11 Average Per Pass 7.1 5.7 Average Per Catch 10.4 9.5 Average Per Game 286.4 224.6 TDs Passing 12 7

TOTAL OFFENSE 2974 2374 Total Plays 503 501 Average Per Play 5.9 4.7 Average Per Game 424.9 339.1

KICK RETURNS: #-Yards 19-453 40-896 PUNT RETURNS: #-Yards 17-96 13-43 INT RETURNS: #-Yards 11-260 4-25 KICK RETURN AVERAGE 23.8 22.4 PUNT RETURN AVERAGE 5.6 3.3 INT RETURN AVERAGE 23.6 6.2 FUMBLES-LOST 13-7 14-6 PENALTIES-Yards 41-400 52-380 Average Per Game 57.1 54.3

PUNTS-Yards 34-1427 39-1588 Average Per Punt 42.0 40.7 Net punt average 38.9 37.2

TIME OF POSSESSION/Game 29:27 30:33 3RD-DOWN Conversions 36/96 42/109 3rd-Down Pct 38% 39% 4TH-DOWN Conversions 3/5 3/13 4th-Down Pct 60% 23%

SACKS BY-Yards 21-122 7-54

TOUCHDOWNS SCORED 29 11

FIELD GOALS-ATTEMPTS 13-14 6-11

ON-SIDE KICKS 0-0 0-1

RED-ZONE SCORES (31-35) 89% (11-21) 52%

RED-ZONE TOUCHDOWNS (20-35) 57% (7-21) 33%

PAT-ATTEMPTS (26-28) 93% (8-9) 89%

Score by Quarters 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Total

Missouri 63 70 67 43 0 243

Opponents 17 27 13 35 0 92

Missouri Overall Individual Statistics (as of Oct 24, 2010) All games

Rushing gp-gs att gain loss net avg td lg avg/g

Josey, Henry 7 - 0 50 340 21 319 6.4 4 62 45.6 Moore, De'Vion 7 - 5 50 293 20 273 5.5 4 39 39.0 Lawrence, Kendial 6 - 1 39 185 8 177 4.5 2 39 29.5 Murphy, Marcus 6 - 0 15 100 4 96 6.4 1 30 16.0 Franklin, James 5 - 0 14 78 0 78 5.6 2 34 15.6 Barrow, Trey 7 - 0 1 26 0 26 26.0 0 26 3.7 Moe, T.J. 7 - 7 2 8 0 8 4.0 0 7 1.1 Culver, Jared 7 - 0 1 2 0 2 2.0 0 2 0.3 Gabbert, Blaine 7 - 7 41 87 87 0 0.0 2 12 0.0 Davis, Matt 2 - 0 1 0 3 -3 -3.0 0 0 -1.5 TEAM 4 - 0 6 0 7 -7 -1.2 0 0 -1.8 Total 7 220 1119 150 969 4.4 15 62 138.4 Opponents 7 225 1002 200 802 3.6 4 93 114.6

Passing gp-gs effic comp-att-int pct yds td lg avg/g

Gabbert, Blaine 7 - 7 137.85 181-269-3 67.3 1899 11 68 271.3 Franklin, James 5 - 0 151.46 11-14-1 78.6 106 1 27 21.2 Total 7 138.52 192-283-4 67.8 2005 12 68 286.4 Opponents 7 108.02 165-276-11 59.8 1572 7 60 224.6

Receiving gp-gs no. yds avg td lg avg/g

Egnew, Michael 7 - 7 56 445 7.9 3 29 63.6 Moe, T.J. 7 - 7 53 625 11.8 3 68 89.3 Jackson, Jerrell 6 - 5 27 385 14.3 3 38 64.2 Kemp, Wes 7 - 7 27 302 11.2 3 35 43.1 Gerau, Brandon 7 - 0 5 96 19.2 0 28 13.7 Washington, L'Damian 7 - 1 5 35 7.0 0 11 5.0 McGaffie, Gahn 7 - 0 5 31 6.2 0 19 4.4 Lawrence, Kendial 6 - 1 3 23 7.7 0 9 3.8 Lucas, Marcus 5 - 0 2 17 8.5 0 11 3.4 Josey, Henry 7 - 0 2 17 8.5 0 9 2.4 Woodland, Rolandis 7 - 0 2 14 7.0 0 9 2.0 Murphy, Marcus 6 - 0 2 5 2.5 0 5 0.8 Moore, De'Vion 7 - 5 2 3 1.5 0 5 0.4 Jones, Andrew 6 - 0 1 7 7.0 0 7 1.2 Total 7 192 2005 10.4 12 68 286.4 Opponents 7 165 1572 9.5 7 60 224.6

Punt Returns no. yds avg td lg Gettis, Carl 15 84 5.6 0 31 Edwards, Kip 1 4 4.0 0 4 Sam, Michael 1 8 8.0 0 0 Total 17 96 5.6 0 31 Opponents 13 43 3.3 0 13

Interceptions no. yds avg td lg

Rutland, Kevin 2 39 19.5 0 24 Jackson, Kenji 2 48 24.0 0 32 Gooden, Zaviar 1 0 0.0 0 0 Edwards, Kip 1 49 49.0 0 49 Sam, Michael 1 62 62.0 0 62 Gachkar, Andrew 1 2 2.0 0 2 Smith, Aldon 1 58 58.0 0 58 Gettis, Carl 1 2 2.0 0 2 Simmons, Jasper 1 0 0.0 0 0 Total 11 260 23.6 0 62 Opponents 4 25 6.2 0 23

Kick Returns no. yds avg td lg Murphy, Marcus 10 232 23.2 0 39 Simmons, Jasper 3 60 20.0 0 22 McGaffie, Gahn 3 125 41.7 1 86 Gettis, Carl 2 16 8.0 0 11 Josey, Henry 1 20 20.0 0 20 Total 19 453 23.8 1 86 Opponents 40 896 22.4 0 77

Fumble Returns no. yds avg td lg Gettis, Carl 1 19 19.0 1 19 Total 1 19 19.0 1 19 Opponents 2 13 6.5 0 7

Scoring td fg kick rush rcv pass dxp saf pts Ressel, Grant - 13-14 26-28 - - - - - 65 Moore, De'Vion 4 - - - - - - - 24 Josey, Henry 4 - - - - - - - 24 Moe, T.J. 3 - - - - - - - 18 Jackson, Jerrell 3 - - - - - - - 18 Kemp, Wes 3 - - - - - - - 18 Egnew, Michael 3 - - - - - - - 18 Franklin, James 2 - - - - - - - 12 Lawrence, Kendial 2 - - - - - - - 12 Gabbert, Blaine 2 - - 0-1 - - - - 12 Murphy, Marcus 1 - - - - - - - 6 McGaffie, Gahn 1 - - - - - - - 6 Gettis, Carl 1 - - - - - - - 6 TEAM - - - - - - - 1 2 Sam, Michael - - - - - - - 1 2 Total 29 13-14 26-28 0-1 - - - 2 243 Opponents 11 6-11 8-9 - - 0-2 - - 92

Total Offense g plays rush pass total avg/g Gabbert, Blaine 7 310 0 1899 1899 271.3 Josey, Henry 7 50 319 0 319 45.6 Moore, De'Vion 7 50 273 0 273 39.0 Franklin, James 5 28 78 106 184 36.8 Lawrence, Kendial 6 39 177 0 177 29.5 Murphy, Marcus 6 15 96 0 96 16.0 Barrow, Trey 7 1 26 0 26 3.7 Moe, T.J. 7 2 8 0 8 1.1 Culver, Jared 7 1 2 0 2 0.3 Davis, Matt 2 1 -3 0 -3 -1.5 TEAM 4 6 -7 0 -7 -1.8 Total 7 503 969 2005 2974 424.9 Opponents 7 501 802 1572 2374 339.1

Punting no. yds avg lg tb fc i20 50+ blk Grabner, Matt 32 1337 41.8 58 3 7 14 5 0 Barrow, Trey 2 90 45.0 49 0 1 2 0 0 Total 34 1427 42.0 58 3 8 16 5 0 Opponents 39 1588 40.7 67 2 11 7 9 1

Kickoffs no. yds avg tb ob retn net ydln Barrow, Trey 48 3152 65.7 7 1 Total 48 3152 65.7 7 1 22.4 44.1 25 Opponents 24 1546 64.4 5 0 23.8 41.4 28

Missouri Overall Defensive Statistics (as of Oct 24, 2010) All games

Tackles Sacks Pass defense Fumbles blkd ## Defensive Leaders gp-gs ua a tot tfl/yds no-yds int-yds brup qbh rcv-yds ff kick saf 6 Gachkar, Andrew 7-7 23 22 45 4.5-10 . 1-2 3 . 1-0 2 . . 25 Gooden, Zaviar 7-7 23 22 45 3.0-9 1.0-3 1-0 1 . 2-0 . . . 1H Harrison, Jarrell 7-6 30 13 43 . . . 2 . . . . . 13 Jackson, Kenji 7-7 29 10 39 3.0-9 . 2-48 1 . . 1 . . 19 Gettis, Carl 7-7 24 4 28 1.0-1 . 1-2 2 . 1-19 . . . 20 Rutland, Kevin 7-7 20 7 27 3.0-17 3.0-17 2-39 4 . . . . . 48 Wilson, Andrew 7-1 11 13 24 0.5-6 0.5-6 . . . . . . . 32 Ebner, Will 5-5 10 12 22 1.0-2 . . . . . 1 . . 1E Edwards, Kip 7-0 16 6 22 4.5-17 1.0-8 1-49 4 . . . . . 3S Smith, Jacquies 7-7 13 8 21 5.0-10 2.0-7 . 3 1 . 1 . . 9 Simmons, Jasper 3-1 10 10 20 0.5-1 . 1-0 . . 1-0 . . . 90 Hamilton, Dominique 7-7 8 12 20 2.0-13 1.5-13 . . . . . . . 93 Resonno, Terrell 7-7 7 12 19 2.0-3 1.0-2 . . 1 . . 1 . 8S Smith, Aldon 4-4 9 8 17 4.0-18 3.0-15 1-58 . 1 . . . . 33 Lambert, Luke 4-1 8 9 17 2.0-4 1.0-1 . 2 1 . . . . 57 Madison, Brad 7-2 11 4 15 7.0-45 4.0-34 . 2 . 1-0 1 . . 52 Sam, Michael 7-1 6 9 15 4.5-15 1.0-6 1-62 . 2 . 2 1 1 31 Gaines, E.J. 7-0 7 5 12 . . . . . . . . . 17 White, Matt 7-0 5 6 11 . . . 2 . . . . . 14 Clark, Jaleel 7-0 5 5 10 . . . . . . . . . 10 Bolden, Tavon 7-0 4 4 8 . . . . . . . . . 5T Tatum, Josh 3-0 4 3 7 2.0-2 1.0-1 . . . . . . . 3G Gettys, Jeff 7-0 2 5 7 0.5-1 . . . . . . . . 21 Hobson, Trey 7-0 5 . 5 . . . . . . . . . 18 Malbrough, Marcus 6-0 . 5 5 . . . . . . . . . 38 Culver, Jared 7-0 2 2 4 . . . . . . . . . 22 Steeples, Robert 7-0 1 3 4 . . . . . . . . . 91 Burge, Jimmy 5-0 1 3 4 . . . 1 . . . . . 58 Donaldson, Brendan 5-0 2 1 3 1.0-9 1.0-9 . . . . . . . 35 Davis, Matt 2-0 . 2 2 . . . . . . . . . 97 Barrow, Trey 7-0 . 2 2 . . . . . . . . . 55 Burnett, Brayden 7-0 2 . 2 . . . . . . . . . 77 Hoch, Dan 7-7 . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . 3 McGaffie, Gahn 7-0 . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . 82 Egnew, Michael 7-7 1 . 1 . . . . . . . . . 86 Brinkley, Beau 5-0 1 . 1 . . . . . . . . . 66 Wuebbels, Austin 7-7 . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . 11 Gabbert, Blaine 7-7 1 . 1 . . . . . . . . . TM TEAM 4-0 . . . . . . . . . . . 1 81 Waters, Eric 6-0 . . . . . . . . . . 1 . Total 7 301 230 531 51-192 21-122 11-260 27 6 6-19 8 3 2 Opponents 7 278 228 506 46-141 7-54 4-25 21 3 7-13 5 1


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