To say that Graham struggled early in the game is an understatement. It was painful to watch, and for the first time, I wanted to see Harrell taken out of the game so Todd could get his chance. It happened, and the mere change of pace seemed to be the spark that the fans and team needed. Chris had a promising drive that unfortunately ended without points, but Harrell came back in motivated on the following possession and made a considerable effort to lead the team back into the game. However, it was too little, too late. As much steam as the QB controversy will have this week, the decision is ultimately Leach's to make. Considering his track record, I'm not ready to start calling him out. I'll support whoever Leach decides to put under center.
If I had to pick the player of the season so far, Shannon Woods would be the obvious choice. Shannon seems to be the only player who shows up to play every down of every game, and I'm proud to call him my adopted player. Woods is the bright spot in what has been a somewhat disappointing first half of the season. Shannon seems to make the most out of every play, which is an example that the rest of the team needs to follow. It saddens me to no end that some people seem happier to point out the players who are struggling instead of recognizing and appreciating the fantastic effort of a player like Woods.
It was a mediocre day for the wideouts. A few players played well, but the routes weren't as crisp as they need to be. Filani and Amendola were playing well, but Robert Johnson and Jarrett Hicks were not playing like receivers of their caliber should. It was nice to see L.A. Reed get an impressive touchdown, as he will likely be a starter next season who is worth getting excited about. I find myself wondering what the unit would have been with the addition of Michael Crabtree, though, as he was truly impressive during practices. I can't say that I was particularly pleased or disappointed with their effort as a unit, and the loss doesn't fall on their shoulders in my opinion.
The line was porous all afternoon, allowing four sacks. There were several instances in which the Tigers only rushed four and got way too much pressure on Harrell. Graham was blindsided several times for three fumbles, all of which were lost. This is what killed our chances to get back in the game. In my opinion, Harrell's interceptions put us in the hole, but the fumbles were what prevented us from making a comeback. In all honesty, I was as disappointed with the effort of the offensive line as I was with Harrell's consecutive interceptions.
The group's two sacks were lost in Chase Daniel's ability to run free in the backfield and buy all of the time that he needed. Daniel's mobility punished the lack of speed on the defensive line, save Keyunta Dawson. The only consolation here is that Daniel appears to be the real deal. That said, we won't ever be a contender for the Big 12 title until we can learn to stop a dual-threat quarterback. Add Chase Daniel to the company of Brad Smith, Seneca Wallace, Vince Young, etc. At least all of those guys are NFL talent. However, that doesn't make me feel any better about our inability to stop them.
The Linebackers were doing a decent job in coverage, but they were nowhere to be found in stopping the running game of Tony Temple or the scrambling of Daniel. The only highlight I can even remember from the linebackers was Kellen Tillman's big hit, and even that was a poor tackle by fundamentals because Tillman didn't even try to wrap up. Still, they were playing some solid pass coverage, and if the defensive line had been able to finish tackles in the Missouri backfield, there would have been several coverage sacks. The unit still has plenty of room to improve, though.
Chris Parker is awesome. They stopped throwing to his side following his interception that was pivotal in switching the momentum for a short period of time. I think that he is easily our best defensive back overall, and gives hope for the future. Aside from one missed coverage on a Missouri TD, Joe Garcia had a good game. Darcel McBath committed a costly penalty, which was absolutely inexcusable. However, aside from that, the coverage of the unit was decent all afternoon. Still, the mistakes were hurtful, and until they can minimize such errors, our chances of winning games will suffer.
The Special Teams had a good day, but it was nothing particularly special. Alex Reyes' punts were solid, Keith Toogood continues to be a touchback machine, and our kickoff and punt coverage teams did their job. Danny Amendola had one nice punt return, and Eric Morris did a serviceable job on kickoff returns. Morris nearly had a costly fumble, though, which was a bit scary. Still, the special teams could have provided a bit more of a spark than they did. Then again, that goes for nearly every unit of our team on Saturday.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)