Missouri-Iowa State report card

Missouri finished off its first eight-win regular season since 1980 Saturday with a big win against Iowa State. But the game wasn't all that pretty. Inside Mizzou grades the Tigers' latest effort.

Quarterback: A-

Brad Smith got the Tigers going with his legs, but he couldn't do much with his arm. Smith ran for 195 yards on 17 carries, an average of 11.5 yards a carry, and he really started the Tigers' scoring blitz in the second half with his 61-yard touchdown run. But his passing still obviously needs a lot of work. He is not seeing open receivers and missing the ones he does see.

Running backs: A

Zack Abron got the Missouri rushing record, but Damien Nash and Smith the spotlight from him with their rushing days. Nash had a 64-yard touchdown run to put away the Cyclones, and he averaged more than nine yards a carry. Tyrone Roberson ran well while in the game. All together, the Tigers ran for 376 yards.

Wide receivers: B

Darius Outlaw had a fitting senior farewell to Faurot Field with 65 yards on five catches, but most of those could have gone for more if he was better at making defenders miss. Sean Coffey could have had a deep touchdown had he not slowed down at the end of the route to make it look like Smith overthrew the ball. Thomson Omboga continues to be fearless in the middle.

Offensive line: B+

This unit couldn't get a push in the first half, and then it pushed over the Cyclones in the second. The whole key to Smith's numbers is getting him past the first seven defenders, and the offensive line couldn't do that against Kansas State. It rebounded well against the Cyclones. A good last game for A.J. Ricker and Rob Droege.

Defensive line: B+

Aatiyah Ellison and Xzavie Jackson made game-changing plays, and Iowa State rarely had much of a push. On the last play of the first half, though, there was no pass rush, and Missouri paid the price for it.

Linebackers: B+

Brandon Barnes makes plays. Period. Barnes was a beast out there Saturday, and so was his teammate James Kinney. Barnes had another fumble recovery, his third of the season and fifth of his career.

Secondary: B-

Shirdonya Mitchell finally got the ball in the end zone. OK, so it wasn't on a kickoff return, but his interception in the fourth quarter ended Iowa State's only long drive. Dedrick Harrington was the best defensive player on the field, but his good day couldn't make up for such a bad mistake at the end of the first half, when the secondary let Lane Danielson make a 62-yard reception with two seconds left.

Special teams: B

To start, Marcus James had probably his best game as a Tiger. He had four punt returns for 94 yards, including one where he picked it up off a bounce. But the rest of the special teams didn't have such a special day. Mike Matheny missed a 44-yard field goal, and then he had another one blocked. Brock Harvey still couldn't get a good leg on the ball. These are problems that surprisingly haven't led to as many difficulties as they should have this season, and they definitely need to be fixed by the bowl game. But congratulations to James, who broke the schools' career record for combined return yards.

Coaching: B

The first half is game was so ugly it was hard to believe someone decided to put it on national television. But that play at the end of the first half could have really killed some past Missouri teams, and this one simply used it as motivation. That's a credit to the kind of intensity and discipline Pinkel has given his players. Pinkel probably should have gone for a couple more fourth downs, but all said, the final score shows he had his team pretty prepared.


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