Scouting Report: No. 2 Missouri Tigers

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy will tell you that one of the reasons his team is improved is that the Cowboys are more mature. The Cowboys don't have a lot of seniors but they do have a lot of juniors that have played. Many of those players came in with the recruiting class just after Gundy was named head coach.

Gundy may have juniors but Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel likes his team's maturity, and Pinkel has seniors, five on offense including quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel, seven on defense including three defensive linemen and free safety and defensive quarterback William Moore.

Remember, those are all seniors that have been a part of a Big 12 North champion that played in a Big 12 Championship game last season.

"Well, I think our players are working hard, their work ethic and practicing hard and preparing well up to this point has been pleasing and when you do that for the most part we've played pretty good," said Pinkel, no doubt thinking about that maturity. "I don't think we've played our best game, but I'm very pleased with my team's effort."

Missouri, running a spread offense that has its roots from the MAC and Bowling Green and its added chapters from places like Florida and Oklahoma State from Larry Fedora and Southlake Carroll High School and the offense Daniel ran in high school. However, Pinkel gives credit to a Big 12 rival with bringing on the freakish offensive production we are seeing this season.

"It is something, isn't it? Look at Oklahoma State, 300 yards a game rushing. Let alone Zac Robinson doesn't get nearly enough credit for how good he is," said Pinkel of his explanation for the explosion that has half the conference averaging more than 43 points a game and two-thirds of the league averaging more than 400 yards of offense a game.

"I think we have these wide open, attacking offenses in this league and that has a lot to do with Mike Leach down at Texas Tech with what he is doing and what we've seen. I also think that we are on a run of high level quarterbacks. We've got six to eight in this league and we're not going to have those (kind of quarterbacks) always. That is not going to be the norm but to me those are two factors that lend themselves to what we are seeing and it is amazing," Pinkel continued.

Pinkel has one of the best quarterbacks. Daniel is no taller than six foot and he appears to be a little chunky at 225 pounds, but he is deceptively athletic, a fierce competitor, and extremely accurate with his arm.

"He is obviously a real good player," said Pinkel in an understatement. "He'd be the first one to tell you that he has a lot of good football players that he is throwing and handing the ball to just like Oklahoma State does. We have talented players on the perimeter, but I'm going to tell you one thing and that is if our offensive line doesn't play well nothing works.

"I think we parallel ourselves a lot to Oklahoma State in that we have a lot of good players and good offensive lines and when you have the combination of all those guys then you have a chance to be pretty good."

A new weapon really came to the forefront in the 52-17 win over Nebraska as Derrick Washington rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass.

"I think he is a pretty good player," said Pinkel. "He's only played in five games. I knew he could be an impact player. Time will tell on whether he will do it week in and week out and whether he will continue to get better."

So how good is Missouri's defense? The Tigers have done a good job of keeping teams off the scoreboard, only allowing an average of 20 points a game against a decent schedule. They are one of the best in the Big 12 in allowing only 95 yards a game rushing but teams have passed on the Tigers as they are 83rd in the nation in total defense allowing an average of 376.6 yards a game.

With all the offense in the game on Saturday, what does Pinkel think a winning effort on defense must consist of? "I don't know," said Pinkel laughing. "If I knew that I wouldn't be doing this. I'd be on the phone talking to coaches across the country. I think everybody is going to be surprised. I think the defenses are going to play an impact and people have been predicting that this is going to be a 60-something to 50-something game. I don't think it is going to be like that.

"I think that both defenses are pretty good defenses and both defenses all spring and all two-a-days go against pretty good offenses. I have a lot of respect for Oklahoma State's defense. It'll be interesting to see how this thing unfolds."

Special Teams
Don't worry about punting, Missouri hasn't (punted) in the last two games. The return game is solid but not spectacular as Jeremy Maclin is the major weapon there. The kicker, Jeff Wolfert, is one of the best in the nation and has great range and confidence.

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