Missouri players got to read about it all week long. Illinois players like Brandon Lloyd and Christian Morton, both native Missourians, had been saying how they were looking forward to coming back to their home state to beat Missouri in front of their family and friends.
The Missouri Tigers rolled to 437 yards of total offense in route to a 33-20 beating of the defending Big 10 champion in the St. Louis saturday. In the process, Missouri found a new quarterback, a new defense, and three new starters on the offensive line.
Redshirt freshman, Brad Smith, was spectacular in his first collegiate start passing for 152 efficient yards, and rushing for another 138 yards. Zack Abron also rushed for 116 yards on the day on 26 carries.
The Missouri offense continually kept Illinois off balance with a mixture of interior traps, counter tres, dives, rollouts and option plays. This was the most diversified offensive attack displayed by Missouri during the Pinkel era, and the team executed the plan effectively for the most part.
Justin Gage and Tompson Omboga combined for a dozen receptions, and provided just enough of a receiving threat to keep the Illini secondary guessing.
While the skill positions played well, they were given that opportunity by a very solid performance by Missouri's retooled offensive line. Returning starters AJ Ricker and Rob Droege were joined by Scott Paffrath, Joe Gianino and Cliff Young to form a surprisingly effective unit.
The offense drew first blood on an efficient 77-yard opening drive capped by a Zack Abron dive into the endzone. Illinois answered back after completing an improbably 40 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd as Dustin Ward was being pressured.
And pressure was the key for Missouri's defense on the day. Both of Illinois' quarterbacks faced consistent pressure from Missouri's front seven, and the occassional secondary blitz. Credit Antwaun Bynum, Keith Wright and CJ Mosley for getting penetration and creating havoc in the Illinois backfield.
And it wasn't just the defensive line who got acquainted with Ward and Buetjer. Sean Doyle, James Kinney and Taurus Ferguson also provided excellent pressure and forced Illini errors throughout the game.
Illinois converted on just three 3rd down attempts on the day.
The lone area of real concern for Missouri was in the kicking game, where freshman Alex Petterson struggled. Petterson had one extra point attempt blocked and one field goal fall short.
Marcus James provided stability in the punt and kick off reception department, as did Ferguson and true freshman Mario Whitney. Whitney also saw limited action at tailback and showed glimpses of his blazing speed and quickness.
However, any way you cut it, the day belonged to Brad Smith. The youngster showed uncommon decision-making ability and poise, especially considering it was his first game and it was against a solid, veteran opponent.
Mizzou returns home to take on Ball State on Saturday.
(credit: Irishmizzou for the great story title!)
Missouri 33, Illinois 20
1st 11:54 MU - ABRON, Zack 6 yd run (PETTERSEN, Alex kick), 8 plays, 77 yards, TOP 3:06, ILL 0 - MU 7 05:41 ILL - Harris, A. 2 yd run (Christofilakos kick), 6 plays, 65 yards, TOP 1:59, ILL 7 - MU 7 2nd 06:16 MU - LEON, T.J. 6 yd run (PETTERSEN, Alex kick), 11 plays, 53 yards, TOP 4:38, ILL 7 - MU 14 3rd 12:13 ILL - Lloyd, Brandon 29 yd pass from Ward, Dustin (Christofilakos kick), 8 plays, 75 yards, TOP 2:47, ILL 14 - MU 14 05:31 MU - KINNEY, James 46 yd fumble recovery (PETTERSEN, Alex kick blockd), , ILL 14 - MU 20 4th 14:06 MU - ABRON, Zack 3 yd run (OUTLAW, Darius pass failed), 12 plays, 85 yards, TOP 4:28, ILL 14 - MU 26 11:47 MU - SMITH, Brad 24 yd run (PETTERSEN, Alex kick), 4 plays, 54 yards, TOP 0:59, ILL 14 - MU 33 08:49 ILL - Lloyd, Brandon 18 yd pass from Beutjer, Jon (Beutjer, Jon pass failed), 11 plays, 67 yards, TOP 2:58, ILL 20 - MU 33
ILL MU FIRST DOWNS................... 18 23 RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 34-67 54-285 PASSING YDS (NET)............. 246 152 Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 42-18-1 26-15-0 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 76-313 80-437 Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 1-46 Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-5 6-72 Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 6-115 4-65 Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 1-0 Punts (Number-Avg)............ 7-39.4 5-42.2 Fumbles-Lost.................. 4-2 2-2 Penalties-Yards............... 6-54 5-39 Possession Time............... 24:39 35:21 Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 0-0 4-27
RUSHING: Illinois-Harris, A. 17-66; Davis, Carey 6-23; Lloyd, Brandon 1-7; Team 1-minus 1; Ward, Dustin 4-minus 14; Beutjer, Jon 5-minus 14. Missouri Tigers-SMITH, Brad 18-138; ABRON, Zack 26-116; LEON, T.J. 7-24; GAGE, Justin 1-5; WHITNEY, Mario 1-4; Missouri Team 1-minus 2.
PASSING: Illinois-Beutjer, Jon 9-21-0-122; Ward, Dustin 9-21-1-124. Missouri Tigers-SMITH, Brad 15-26-0-152.
RECEIVING: Illinois-Lloyd, Brandon 8-137; Lewis, Greg 5-70; Young, Walter 3-31; Davis, Carey 2-8. Missouri Tigers-GAGE, Justin 7-63; OMBOGA, Thomson 5-77; FREDRICKSON,Ben 2-9; JAMES, Marcus 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS: Illinois-None. Missouri Tigers-DOYLE, Sean 1-0.
Stadium: Edward Jones Dome Attendance: 61876 Kickoff time: 2:37 End of Game: 5:54 Total elapsed time: 3:17 Officials: Referee: Honig, Dick; Umpire: Krogstad, Jim; Linesman: Beckman, Steve; Line judge: Engelbert, Paul; Back judge: Buchanan, Scott; Field judge: Nelson, Norm; Side judge: Perrault, Tom; Scorer: Winter, Mark; Temperature: Wind: Weather:
Illinois vs Missouri Tigers (Aug 31, 2002 at St. Louis, Missouri)
SACKS (UA-A): Illinois-None. Missouri Tigers-DOYLE, Sean 1-0; KINNEY, James 1-0; BYNUM, Antwaun 1-0; MOSLEY, C.J. 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Illinois-O'Brien, Mike 9-3; Schumacher, J. 6-4; Jackson, Marc 7-2; Wilson, Eugene 7-0; Myers, Ty 2-3; Kautter, Brett 4-0; Jordan, Taman 3-1; Ruffin, Jeff 3-0; Hanton, Jamie 3-0; Strong, Derrick 2-1; Bevis, Joe 2-1; Taylor, Winston 2-0; Morton, C. 2-0; Hall, Mike 2-0; Schaefering, B. 2-0; Gomez, Mike 1-0; Clark, Jamaal 1-0; Davis, Carey 1-0; Young, Walter 1-0; Minnes, Matt 1-0; Perry, Jemari 1-0; Maloney, Mike 1-0; Payne, Franklin 1-0; Haywood, Brad 0-1. Missouri Tigers-KINNEY, James 6-1; DOYLE, Sean 4-2; BYNUM, Antwaun 4-2; JONES, R.J. 3-2; SIMPSON, Jason 4-0; WRIGHT, Keith 4-0; HARDEN, Michael 3-0; KING, Marcus 2-1; FERGUSON,Tauras 1-2; WADE, Quincy 2-0; ELLISON,Atiyyah 2-0; MOSLEY, C.J. 2-0; DUNCAN, Antoine 2-0; TARPOFF, Nick 1-0; GOODEN, Orlando 1-0; MICKELWRIGHT,Pa 1-0; BARNES, Brandon 1-0; MILLS, Terrell 1-0; KINCADE, A.J. 0-1; ANTHONY, Gary 0-1.
Illinois vs Missouri Tigers (Aug 31, 2002 at St. Louis, Missouri)
Illinois Missouri Tigers
POS ## OFFENSE POS ## OFFENSE FL 6 Lloyd, Brandon WR-X 12 GAGE, Justin TE 86 Moorehead, A