On Friday night the Missouri Tigers ventured down to Arizona to battle the Sun Devils of Arizona State on national television in an exciting game that had the makings of a great one for the Tiger football program if they had been able to finish with a field goal with :12 seconds left on the game clock with the score tied at 30-30.
Instead, the missed field goal sent the game to overtime, which ASU scored a TD on their first possession, forcing the Tigers to have to have to do the same to send it to double overtime. Unfortunately, the offense did not have one last comeback in them and Mizzou left with a tough OT loss of 37-30.
Given the fact that the Tigers were playing without 7 starters in their first big road game against a quality opponent it is hard to feel too down about the loss.
You also have to feel pretty good about the offense posting it's biggest 4th quarter comeback in school history that James Franklin engineered in only his second game as a starter. There was no quit in the Tigers.
What there was were a continuation of mistakes and some break downs on defense that will cost you games. Still, despite all of this you could pinpoint more then a dozen individual plays that if just one breaks the Tigers way they win the game.
Here is a break down of the Tigers performance as I saw it.
- James Franklin: For the second game in a row Franklin was the offensive player of the game. James shrugged off the negative reviews by many from his first game against Miami (OH) and came out strong both throwing and running the ball as he accounted for 403 of Missouri's 503 total yards of offense. While completing his first 10 passes of the day, Franklin was 26 of 42 for 319 yards passing with 2 TDs and 0 INTs on the day overall, while also rushing for 84 yards and another score. His passing was a little more crisp on the day, which may lead to his armchair QB critics easing up on his abilities this week. The bottom line is that James Franklin knows how to lead an offense and gets the job done. Coach Pinkel labeled him as a "special player" after the game. This is something you could see watching him in practice over the past year.
- Tiger Heart: Forget Tiger blood. These Tiger's showed it was all about Tiger heart. Despite the loss, playing a game like this where they continued to fight and claw their way back to put themselves in position for a win in the final seconds is huge. Not only did it give fans a glimpse of what type of character this years version will have, it taught the team a lot about itself and what they are capable of doing. It solidified Franklin's role as leader and will give confidence later on in the season against tough conference opponents.
- Henry Josey: With the Tigers first two starting tailbacks going down with injury in the same week, Henry Josey came in and did a fantastic job carrying and catching the ball. The speedy sophomore back ran for a 94 yards on 9 carries (10.4 avg.), including a 39-yard burst on the Tigers final possession of regulation that helped set Mizzou up for a potential game-winning field goal in regulation. He also was a factor in the passing game catching two passes for 51 yards (25 yard avg.). Josey is a gamer. He might not show all of his ability during in practice, but when he is on the field he makes things happen. I would have liked to have seen him get a few more carries. The Tigers will need his big play ability more during the season to be successful.
- Receiving Help Found: Sophomore wide receivers L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas stepped up and had good games against ASU. Washington had 3 catches for 39 yards, including his first career TD catch on a 25 yard pass from Franklin that helped spur the comeback. Lucas had a big day catching 4 passes for 87 yards, including a 49 yarder, which is Missouri's longest play from scrimmage so far this season. This type of play is what will continue to be needed from Missouri receivers for the team to be as successful as they can be this year.
- Down Field Plays: Mizzou totaled eight plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more against Arizona State, one week after having just one play of 20 yards or more in the opener against Miami (Ohio).
- Special Teams/ Punting/Kick Return: Missouri punter Trey Barrow had a great day averaging 58 yards per punt on the day, including a 73 yard punt that really helped give the defense some much needed help. T.J. Moe has been very good so far this season. The sure-handed Moe did a nice job picking up yards on his return averaging 21.6 per return on 5 kick returns for 108 yards, but more importantly being very good at securing the ball.
- Zaviar Gooden: The Tiger linebacker had a big day for the defense on a day that was sorely lacking in big days on the defensive side of the ball. Gooden finished with 9 tackles and a sack on the day and did his part to help the Tigers have a chance to win.
- The Offensive Line: Despite missing two starters from the O-line, they did a nice job most of the day giving Franklin time to throw and opening holes for him and Josey as they averaged 4.9 yard per carry on the day. There are still some occasional mistakes, but they deserve mention here.
- The Defense: I understand that teams early this year are negating the Tiger's talented defensive line play a bit with the quick rhythm passing game, but they have not handled it well. They are going to have to find a way to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. You are also seeing some weak pass coverage which makes for teams being able to move up and down the field on you. I personally am not a fan of the bend don't break defensive model. I expected to see a much more aggressive defense this season given the personnel they have. The loss of Will Ebner and Jacquies Smith appeared to be bigger factors then I first thought for the game.
- Defensive Backs: A combination of cornerbacks and safeties making poor plays, not being in position and missing coverage that led to ASU moving the ball on them for big chucks of yardage as the Sun Devils averaged 15.5 yards per completion on the Tiger DBs. Kip Edwards did not look ready to return in the game as he got burned for the long TD pass that really gave ASU a lot of confidence. You also noticed the D-backs not playing the ball and being soft in coverage.
- Penalties: The Tigers had 11 penalties for 111 yards. Not to be outdone, ASU had 12 penalties on the day, but they were known for being undisciplined last season and having to work on that. Still too many mistakes for the Tigers, who have been pretty good under Pinkel in being focused. You also saw some of the young guys and newcomers making silly mistakes which led to penalties.
- 3rd Down Conversions: The Tigers continue to struggle on 3rd downs as they only converted 3 of 15 on the day. Last week against Miami (OH) they were 3 for 13. They did convert on 2 of 3 on 4th down plays. However, the 3rd down conversions need to improve.
- Injury Bug Continues To Bite: The loss of Devion Moore was a big one from the standpoint of him being their short yardage back. I feel as though he would have been able to put the ball in the end zone deep in ASU's territory instead of them having to settle for a FG.
Defensive Player of the Week: Zaviar Gooden
Offensive Player of the Week: James Franklin
Special Teams Player of the Week: Trey Barrow
Offense: B+ You cannot say enough about how Franklin performed along with Josey and the receivers who stepped up. However, not everyone did their part and you still saw mistakes, missed blocking assignments and the lack of an equal to Franklin to help carry the load. They are going to need that or else Franklin will be wiped out before the end of the year.
Defense: C I have to give them credit for the run defense holding them to 104 yards total and 3 yards per carry but overall they failed to stop the Sun Devils big plays. The pass defense and lack of ability to get to the QB (1 sack for 3 yards lost) or adjust to that led to 37 points against, 4 of 4 for the Sun Devils on Red zone chances with 3 being TDs, and allowing them 33% on their 3rd down conversions.
Special Teams: B Trey Barrows is tops in the Big 12 and ranks 4th nationally in punting average at 49.9 per punt. Moe and the kick return was solid as well. Ressel was 3 of 5 in FG attempts missing from 54 and 48 with the game on the line.