Missouri-Nebraska Report Card

In case you're just coming to from what happened last night, Missouri beat Nebraska. By 17. In the fourth quarter. Inside Mizzou breaks down the game position by position and grades the Tigers in this huge Missouri victory.

Quarterbacks: A

Two interceptions seemed to be exactly what Brad Smith needed. Showing the kind of aggressiveness everyone's used to seeing from Smith, he did a little bit of everything in this game. He had 350 total yards. Even though he had his worst completion percentage of the season, completing only 13 of 27 passes, he stretched the Nebraska defense to open up he and Zack Abron on the run. And when he got in the open field, you just knew he was gone. Sonny Riccio's pass on the fake field goal was perfectly executed, and Darius Outlaw threw a great pass on the throwback to Smith. That was a 40-yard throw off one foot to get it across the field like that to Smith, and Outlaw nailed it.

Running backs: B+

Zack Abron had been the most consistent he has been in his Missouri career. When Missouri needed him, he was there. He didn't have any fireworks, but 20 runs for 84 yards is a pretty solid day. Abron was the calming influence on an offense that was so aggressive, it could have gotten out of control. Damien Nash struggled, but then again, he was yanked after every run he had.

Wide receivers: B+

Once again, the Tigers didn't have a 100-yard receiver or even a 60-yard receiver. These guys had some big catches, though. Sean Coffey had the best snag of the game to bring a pass in over the middle, and he probably saved two more Smith interceptions by getting a piece of the ball. Thomson Omboga was fearless over the middle, and tight ends J.D. McCoy and Victor Sesay made the catches when they needed to.

Offensive line: A+

It seems as this group goes, so do the Tigers. Smith had more time than he needed Saturday on nearly every play. Holes opened for Smith and Abron all night. The offensive line neutralized Nebraska's No. 1 defense by making time for Smith to find holes. Any time a team gets 452 yards against Nebraska, that offensive line should get a lot of the credit, and Missouri's line deserves a lot of credit.

Defensive line: B

This unit had its moments: Brian Smith's pass rushing, Zach Ville's interception, Aatiyah Ellison's run stopping. But when it comes down to it, Nebraska had two 100-yard rushers in the game and Jammal Lord had at least enough time to pass for 146 yards.

Linebackers: A-

James Kinney did what everyone has been waiting for him to do in the last two seasons: change a game by himself. He forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, adding seven tackles and three tackles for loss in his best game as a Tiger. Brandon Barnes had several big hits.

Secondary: B+

Nebraska's pass attack is not a dangerous one, and several times the Missouri secondary was lucky that Lord had a really tough time finding open receivers. Lord still passed for 146 yards, compared to the 34 he passed for last season against the Tigers. Lord absolutely burned Jason Simpson on an important third down. Nino Williams had a great day, and A.J. Kincade was playing well in his first start before he got injured.

Special teams: B-

The rain could not have come at a better time for the Tigers. Nebraska dropped two kicks when the rain was coming down the worst, and Missouri recovered both for some good coverage. The problem for the special teams was the kickers. Brock Harvey has digressed more than any Tiger this season, and he showed it with 18- and 25-yard punts. After Pinkel pulled Harvey, Todd Gohsler had a great punt and then a poor one. Mike Matheny missed another extra point. How many times is this going to be allowed?

Coaching: A+

With all his discipline and control, Gary Pinkel had forgotten what makes football players do well: having fun. By opening up the offense and taking some chances, Pinkel gave his offense the chance to get some momentum. That momentum carried to the defense for some big turnovers. Pinkel called the trick plays at the absolute best times, giving his players the confidence to complete them.

No Tiger coach in 25 years had beaten Nebraska. Not any more, thanks to Pinkel's great game plan.


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