On Saturday morning, the Missouri Tigers summoned their best defensive effort of the season to help them take down the top 25 ranked Texas Longhorns in a huge victory at the Zou before 60,000 plus.
The Tiger defense celebrates a big play
It was a fitting way for the Tiger to help go out on a high note as the leave the Big 12 with a win over the program most likely to have been the primary motivation for a conference change at this time.
While you hear cries of Texas not being healthy or at full strength, the Tigers can say the same as they are beaten up 10 games into playing the 2nd toughest strength of schedule in the country.
While the Tigers started fast in an up tempo set and was able to score 14 first half points, they became very conservative with their offensive game plan, and put the game in the hands of their defense, which had stymied the Longhorn offense for the majority of the game holding them to only 247 total yards on the day.
The victory was not without it's downside. Super-soph running back Henry Josey was lost for the remainder of the year with a serious knee injury that will require surgery and a long rehab before he can return to the field.
Here is a break down of the ups and downs from the Missouri Tigers 17-5 win over the Texas Longhorns.
* The Tiger Defense- The talk of the pre-season was how this year's defense had the chance to be one of the best in Tiger history, and would probably carry the team this year as they broke in a new quarterback. While the D has had it's moments, he had not lived up to the hype surrounding it until Saturday. Especially impressive after giving up 697 yards to Baylor the previous week.
Behind the stellar play of defensive linemen Dominique Hamilton, Terrell Resonno, Jacquies Smith, Sheldon Richardson and Lucas Vincent, the Tigers won the battle in the trenches against Texas' bevy of 5-star offensive linemen allowing Tiger linebackers and defensive backs to clean up and make plays against a vaunted rushing attack that had been piling up big yards heading into the game. Texas came into the game leading the Big 12 Conference, and ranking 11th nationally in rushing, averaging 246.38 yards per game. In the two weeks prior to Saturday, Texas ran for a combined 880 yards and 11 touchdowns against Texas Tech and Kansas. The Tiger defense held the Longhorns to a mere 76 yards rushing – UT's 2nd-lowest rushing total of the season, and a whopping 364 yards below what they had averaged over the previous two games.
Texas came into the game ranked 28th in the nation in scoring offense, with a per-game average of 34.38 points. Mizzou held them out of the end zone for the first time in series history since a 3-0 Tiger win in 1916, and it was the first time overall for Texas to go without a touchdown since the 2004 season.
*EJ Gaines- Gaines was playing out of his mind during parts of the game both against the pass and the run. He showed his complete package that he brings at the cornerback position. He also brings solid special teams play, and will only get better in time.
Kendial Lawrence lands on his head as he scores for the Tigers
*Kendial Lawrence- It was suppose to be Kendial's breakout year as he ripped off big run after big run in pre-season camp. However, he suffered an injury that allowed Henry Josey to be able to showcase his skills and become a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. With Josey going down this time with an injury, Lawrence stepped up and had his first 100 yard game of his career with 106 yards on 18 carries (career high) and huge touchdown run on an option pitch from James Franklin.
* James Franklin- He earned his nickname Frank the Tank! He took a vicious hit that staggered him and brought him to one knee. He left the game for only one play and was back and finished the game.
* The offensive line- While they seemed to be overmatched athletically by the young Longhorn defensive linemen, the O-line held together and did their thing and battled. It was good enough to allow the Tiger offense to move the ball and score enough for the victory.
* Playing through injuries- This team has had more then it's share of injuries this season. They were already banged up heading into the Texas game, which was as physical as it gets. The Tigers played through their pain and toughed out a huge win.
* Henry Josey's Injury- You could tell right away that it was something to be concerned about. After having such a brilliant year and elevating his game and his name to be among the top running backs in college football, you absolutely hate to see something like this happen. A major injury that could take more then a year to recover from. You hope for the best and that he heals fully and can return to his previous form. It's a huge loss all the way around. For Josey and for the program.
Offensive Player of the Week: Kendial Lawrence- Lawrence carried a career-high 18 times in the game, and his 35-yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter staked the Tigers to a 14-3 lead. He also caught a pass for a 20-yard gain on the day.
Co-Defensive Player of the Week: Jacquies Smith and Edwin Gaines-Smith had only 3 tackles, but he was his disruptive self as he continues to make a push for all-conference honors, as he contributed to Mizzou's huge defensive effort with 2.0 TFLs and 1 QB sack, plus a forced fumble and a pass break up.
Gaines was strong both against the run and the pass recording 6 tackles and 2 pass break-ups. He provided great pass coverage sticking to the speedy Longhorn receivers and showed his physical hitting abilities in run support.