Sept. 20, 2010
Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (2-1) at #24 Missouri Tigers (3-0)
Sept. 25, 2010 – Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field – Columbia, Mo.
TIGERS CLOSE NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WITH MIAMI (OHIO)
The Missouri Tigers (3-0), and ranked 24th in this week’s USA Today Coaches’ Top-25 Poll, close out the non-conference portion of their 2010 schedule this Saturday as they play host to the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (2-1 overall) in the first-ever meeting between the programs. Kickoff for the game is set for 1:07 p.m. (central time) at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. The game will not be televised.
Mizzou will be looking to to extend its school-record regular-season non-conference winning streak this Saturday. The Tigers have won 20 straight non-conference regular-season games, with the last loss coming in 2005 to New Mexico. The streak was severely put to the test last Saturday, as the Tigers trailed at home to upstart San Diego State, 24-20, and took over for one last possession on their own 12-yardline with just 1:21 left in the game. What ensued were two pass plays that covered all 88 yards, including the last play that was a 68-yard catch-and-run from QB Blaine Gabbert to WR T.J. Moe that will live forever in the hearts of Tiger fans, as Moe streaked to the game-winning TD with just :51 seconds left to provide Mizzou the heart-stopping 27-24 win.
Mizzou’s challenge by The Mountain West’s San Diego State will no doubt provide inspiration for Miami, of the tradition-rich Mid-American Conference (MAC). The Redhawks struggled in 2009 under 1st-year Head Coach Mike Haywood, as they went just 1-11, but the Notre Dame graduate is looking like he’s getting things on the uptick. Miami opened the year playing at 3rd-ranked Florida, and they held the Gators to just 26 total yards of offense through three quarters, and trailed just 21-12 entering the final period. The Gators pulled away eventually for a 34-12 win, thanks to four interceptions on defense, including one that was returned 67 yards for a 2nd-quarter touchdown after Miami led 3-0 after the first 15 minutes of play.
Following that, Miami returned home for an early conference game against Eastern Michigan, and in a back-and-forth affair, TB Thomas Merriweather scored the third rushing TD of the day midway through the 4th quarter for a 28-21 win. Last Saturday saw the Redhawks score 31 unanswered points after falling behind at home to Colorado State, on the way to a dominating 31-10 win.
1:07 p.m. CT.
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (71,004 – FieldTurf surface). Opened in 1926. MU is 252-167-20 there alltime and has won 25 of its last 30 overall and is 35-10 there since 2003 (2-0 in 2010).
RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), John Kadlec (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com.
The MU broadcast will also be on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 126).
MU – RV [31st] / 24th.
Miami – None.
SERIES: This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 70-46 at MU (10th year) and 143-83-3 overall (20th year). Pinkel is 3-3-1 vs. Miami (Ohio) and 0-0 vs. Haywood.
Miami: Mike Haywood (Notre Dame, ‘86), 3-12 at MU & overall (2nd year). Haywood is 0-0 vs. Gary Pinkel and Mizzou.
“MID-MOE MIRACLE” MOVES TIGERS TO 3-0
Mid-Missouri has seen its share of some memorable finishes over the years at Mizzou’s Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, but Tiger fans would argue that the most memorable ones have gone against MU.
This past Saturday, perhaps any lingering pain from events such as The Fifth Down (vs. Colorado in 1990) and the “Flea Kicker” (vs. Nebraska in 1997) will be erased, thanks to what might be called the “Mid-Moe Miracle.”
With Mizzou at its own 12-yardline and trailing, 24-20, with just 1:21 to play, the Tigers needed a miracle comeback to avoid the upset loss. The Tiger offense hadn’t seen the endzone since late in the 2nd quarter, and things just didn’t look promising. But QB Blaine Gabbert, who had been intercepted on the last two possessions, got the Tigers out of a hole when he hit WR Jerrell Jackson for a 20-yard gain to the MU 32-yardline.
What happened next will likely go down in history books as one of the more incredible plays in Tiger Football history. Gabbert hit sophomore WR T.J. Moe on a quick 7-yard out, and Moe did a stutter-step to juke a would-be tackler to the ground. Moe looked to get out of bounds, but all of a sudden he got a block from WR Jerrell Jackson that took two Aztecs out at once, and it was off to the races. Moe raced down the left sideline untouched for an improbable touchdown with just :51 seconds left to put MU up, 27-24.
After the Tiger defense prevented San Diego State from moving into field goal position, Mizzou had its miracle finish that was very historic in nature. It marked the first time since 1976 that Missouri had scored a touchdown in the final minute of play when trailing to win a ballgame. The last time came in 1976 in Columbus, Ohio, when Missouri’s Pete Woods threw a TD pass to Leo Lewis with :12 seconds left to give MU a 22-21 win over the 2nd-ranked Buckeyes.
COACHES TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY SATURDAY
The Mizzou coaching staff will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. Fans are encouraged to donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.
This is the third year of the Coach to Cure MD program, and participation has grown each year. The goal is to raise money and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is the most common fatal genetic disorder among boys worldwide. The program is a partnership between Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and the American Football Coaches Association.
TIGER DEFENSE KEYED DRAMATIC WIN, AS WELL
If it sounds a little strange to state that a defense which gave up touchdown runs of 75 and 93 yards played well, then label us weird, because the Tiger defense played very well overall and was a key to Mizzou’s 27-24 win over San Diego State. Credit Aztec RB Ronnie Hillman for breaking those long runs certainly, but if those runs are backed out, the Aztecs had 82 yards rushing on their other 31 carries, for an average of just 2.7 yards per attempt. Hillman ended with 228 net yards on 23 carries, meaning that he had 60 yards on 21 carries outside of his two long totes (2.9 avg.).
The Tiger defense was stellar with its backs against the wall in the 4th quarter, as MU’s offense turned the ball over three times in the final 15 minutes in its own territory. Undaunted, the Tiger defense allowed only 3 points total in those three instances, and that was a key to MU’s win. The first short field came with 13:40 to play, with MU leading 20-14, when the Aztecs forced a fumble by TB De’Vion Moore and recovered on the Tiger 7-yardline. But senior CB Kevin Rutland intercepted a 2nd-down pass on the goal line and returned it 21 yards to avert the threat. Later, with MU now trailing 21-20, SDSU intercepted Blaine Gabbert and took over on the Tiger 45-yardline. The Aztecs managed one first down, but the defense held, and forced a field goal that kept it to a one score game with 2:03 to play. It got even worse, as MU was intercepted again on its next possession at the Tiger 37-yardline, but the defense kept the Aztecs to two yards on three plays, and forced a punt with 1:29 left that set up MU’s game-winning pass from Gabbert to T.J. Moe.
Mizzou’s defense held San Diego State to just 6-of-18 on 3rd-down conversions, including 0-of-4 in the 4th quarter, and just 1-of-8 overall in the 2nd half. SDSU had only one sustained drive on the night, as they took their opening possession of the game and drove 80 yards on 10 plays (4:10 TOP) for a touchdown which tied the game at 7-apiece.
Mizzou enters Saturday’s game against Miami (Ohio) toting one of the top pass defenses in the country. Through 3 games, MU ranks 5th in the NCAA in pass efficiency defense, with an opponent rating of just 82.11. Kevin Rutland’s 4th-quarter goal line INT bumped MU’s 3-game total to 7 in 2010, and that puts the Tigers just one shy of the 13-game total of 8 that they achieved in 2009.
MORE ODDS AND ENDS FROM SDSU WIN
A few more things of note from the amazing win last Saturday over San Diego State...
- Mizzou came into the game +6 on turnover margin, but was minus-2 on the night against SDSU, as the Tigers turned the ball over three times (2 INTs, 1 fumble), while the Tigers gained one back (Rutland’s goal line INT). Turnover margin has been a big indicator for success of late for Mizzou, as the Tigers have won 9 straight games in which they’ve been at least +1 on turnovers, including 7-0 in 2009, and 2-0 thus far in 2010. The last time that Mizzou won a game in which it was negative in TO margin was in the 2009 home opener against Bowling Green, when the Tigers were minus-2, and needed a big rally to post a 27-20 comeback win in a game that had some similarities to Saturday’s game against the Aztecs…
- Mizzou looked to go more vertical in its passing attack vs. SDSU, and the results worked to the tune of 6 pass plays that covered 20 yards or more. Coming into the game, MU had just 5 total passes of 20 yards or more in its first two outings. San Diego State had allowed only 2 passes of 20 yards or more this season coming into the game, as well…
- Field position was decidedly against Mizzou on Saturday against San Diego State, as 13 of MU’s 17 possessions began inside the Tiger 30-yardline, including 8 which were at the MU 20-yardline or worse. Of MU’s 9 2nd-half possessions, the starting position in order, included: MU 5, MU 20, MU 25, MU 7, MU 24, MU 20, MU 39, MU 30, MU 12…
- After sitting out the first two games of the season, junior LB Will Ebner returned to the lineup and registered a team-best 9 tackles against SDSU, as he started for the injured Luke Lambert. Ebner forced an apparent fumble in the 2nd quarter that was recovered by Mizzou, but replay officials overturned the call, ruling that the runner was down before the ball came out…
TIGERS GETTING IT DONE IN CRUNCH TIME
Saturday’s comeback win (albeit in a game in which the Tigers led for most of the game, and never trailed until the 4th quarter) continued a recent trend that has seen Mizzou pull out games in the 4th quarter whose balance have been in the air.
Mizzou now has won each of its last four games against Div. I-A foes in the 4th quarter. Prior to last Saturday, MU opened the season by defeating Illinois 23-13, but the Tigers trailed 13-3 at halftime and 13-10 to open the 4th quarter, before blitzing the Illini to the tune of 13-0 in the final period.
Prior to that, MU’s last two wins of the 2009 regular season including 4th quarter “wins” against Kansas and Iowa State. Against the rival Jayhawks, MU held a 36-28 early 4th quarter lead, only to see the Jayhawks score 11 straight points to take a 39-36 lead with just 5:10 to play. But Mizzou got a safety by Aldon Smith and Brian Coulter with 2:45 to play to pull to within one point, and drove for a game-winning 27-yard field goal by Grant Ressel at the final gun for a dramatic 41-39 win. The week before, Mizzou trailed Iowa State at halftime, 17-10, and entered the 4th quarter tied at 24-apiece. But the Tigers dug in during the final period and outscored ISU 10-0 in the 4th quarter to post a 34-24 win.
In fact, going back to last season, a key to MU’s wins has been to win the 4th quarter. In MU’s last 8 wins against Div. I-A foes (dating back to Bowling Green in game #2 of 2009 season), Mizzou has outscored opponents by a combined 76-29 count in the 4th quarter. It was a 69-19 margin in MU’s favor prior to last Saturday, when the Aztecs outpointed the Tigers by a 10-7 margin in the final period of play.
To further illustrate the importance of winning the 4th quarter, in taking a look back at MU’s last 6 losses (dating back to the 2008 Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma), the Tigers have been outscored in the 4th quarter combined in those 6 games by an 85-13 margin.
MIZZOU VERSUS THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
While Saturday will represent the first-ever meeting between Mizzou and Miami (Ohio), the Tigers have played many of the schools currently associated with the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Head Coach Gary Pinkel also has a history against the Redhawks, as he went 3-3-1 in 7 appearances versus them during his 10-year tenure as head coach at Toledo (1991-2000).
Mizzou is 10-4 alltime against current MAC schools, including 7-2 in the Gary Pinkel era. At right is a breakdown.
MOE, EGNEW RANK #3, #4 IN NCAA IN RECEPTIONS
It was pretty clear to observers during fall training camp that QB Blaine Gabbert was in the process of developing a good chemistry with sophomore WR T.J. Moe and junior TE Michael Egnew. That comfort level has most definitely transferred to the season, as Gabbert has connected with Moe for 30 completions in 3 games, while Egnew’s 29 catches are right behind.
Moe, who caught all of 2 passes as a true freshman in 2009, currently finds himself as the nation’s 3rd-most prolific pass catcher through 3 games, as his 30 receptions (for 299 yards and 2 TDs) are ranked 3rd nationally entering Saturday’s game against Miami. Moe, who was initially pegged to play safety when he first came to Mizzou, made his 1st career start in the 2010 opener vs. Illinois, and made 13 catches for 101 yards and 1 TD, and he followed with a 10-catch, 79-yard outing against McNeese State. Of course, his legend at Mizzou will be forever cemented in the history books after his 7-catch, 119-yard outing last Saturday against San Diego State, most notably for his 68-yard catch-and-run score with just :51 seconds left that gave Mizzou the dramatic 27-24 win.
Egnew is in a similar situation, in that he’s relatively new to being a focal point of the passing attack. After catching a total of 7 passes for 47 yards (0 TDs) in 2008 and 2009 combined, Egnew has emerged as a weapon, with 29 receptions for 257 yards and 1 TD through 3 games. Egnew ranks 4th in the NCAA among all players with his 29 receptions, which are most in the nation among tight ends, 8 more than the next on the list (Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph, with 21). Egnew had 10 catches for 60 yards and 1 TD against Illinois, and followed with 6 grabs for 52 yards against McNeese.
Egnew had an outstanding game against SDSU last Saturday, as he finished the night with career highs in receptions (13) and yards (145). Both totals represented school single-game records for tight ends at Mizzou, with the old standards being 12 catches for 140 yards by former All-American Chase Coffman at Texas in 2008. Egnew currently ranks 4th overall in the NCAA with his 9.67 receptions per game. He is 3rd in the nation among tight ends in receiving yardage per game, with his average of 85.67.
GETTIS STARRING IN SEVERAL ROLES OF THE GAME FOR MIZZOU
Senior CB Carl Gettis (a native of O’Fallon, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis), had an outstanding fall camp, and seemed primed to put together a big final season as a fourth-year starter in 2010. Through 3 games, Gettis has starred for the Tiger defense, as a punt returner and also as part of the punt coverage unit.
In last Saturday’s win over San Diego State, Gettis was an impact player:
- Gettis recorded 5 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss (1 yard) and broke up a pass as the Tiger defense held a potent SDSU passing attack in check. Gettis had arguably the play of the game for the Tiger defense when he came off the corner to burst into the flat and blow up a crucial 3rd-down play by the Aztecs late in the game that set up T.J. Moe’s game-winning reception just three plays later.
- With SDSU leading, 24-20, the Aztecs had a 3rd-and-7 at the Mizzou 34-yardline with 1:36 left to play, meaning a first down would have likely ended any chance of a Tiger win. The Aztecs tried a swing pass in the right flat on the play, but Gettis, who was lined up near the far sideline in tight coverage on another receiver, broke free from the attempted block and charged into the ball carrier to upend TE Gavin Escobar for a 1-yard loss. The loss on the play forced an Aztec punt with 1:29 left, which Gettis fair caught at the Tiger 12-yardline. Two plays later on offense, the Tigers had the win as Moe (Gettis’ high school teammate at Ft. Zumwalt West HS in St. Louis) went 68 yards with :51 seconds left.
- In the 4th quarter, Gettis broke up a pass on 3rd-and-6 by SDSU from the Aztec 19-yardline with about 8:30 left to play.
- Gettis was also heavily involved in the return game on Saturday, as he had 5 punt returns for 47 yards, including a career-long 31-yarder in the 1st quarter which set up an MU field goal for a 10-7 lead.
Opening the season in his hometown of St. Louis against Illinois, he got things started with a bang as he was undoubtedly one of the keys to Mizzou’s comeback 23-13 win on Sept. 4th.
Gettis might very well have been the MVP of the win against Illinois, as he made a trio of huge plays in the 4th quarter which helped seal MU’s win. First, he made an acrobatic one-handed interception along the right sideline on a deep pass which was named SportCenter’s #5 play of the day. That pick came with 12:24 to play in the game and was the 3rd of his career.
After MU’s offense went 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, Gettis got downfield on the punt team to down Matt Grabner’s punt inside the Illini 1-yardline. The Tiger defense forced a quick 3-and-out and Gettis returned the Illinois punt 15 yards to the Illini 45-yardline, which set up a drive by the Tiger offense that resulted in a field goal with 7:21 left that extended the lead to 20-13.
On the day, Gettis ended with 4 tackles and the interception. Gettis is far and away the most experienced defender on the Tiger squad, as he has now started 40 games in his career – more than double of the next-highest career start total of any other Tiger defender (Luke Lambert has the next most, with 18 career starts).
Gettis followed with a solid outing against McNeese State, when he was credited with 4 tackles in limited action that saw him exit early in the 3rd quarter with the game well in hand. Gettis also returned a punt 41 yards for an apparent 2nd-quarter touchdown, but the return was called back due to a penalty.
He also continued his stellar play on MU’s punt coverage special teams unit, as he downed a Matt Grabner punt at the 1-yardline for the second straight week.
GABBERT LEADING THE CHARGE OFFENSIVELY
There’s an old school of thought which says that the second time around is much easier than the first. If that’s the case for Mizzou 2nd-year starting junior QB Blaine Gabbert, then Tiger fans should have plenty to cheer about in 2010, because his first go around as a starter was pretty stellar.
In 2009, Gabbert lived up to advance billing as the highly-recruited signal caller threw for 3,593 yards and 24 TDs with only 9 INTs, as he helped guide the Tigers to 8 wins in his first year as a starter. Throw in the fact that he played 2/3rds of the season on a gimpy ankle which he severely injured in game #5 against Nebraska, and his achievements were outstanding.
He’s got his junior season off to a rousing start, as he’s currently 2nd in the NCAA through 3 games in pass completions (29.33 avg.), trailing only Alex Carder of Western Michigan (1st, 31.33 avg.). His passing yards average of 284.00 ypg ranks him 13th in the NCAA currently, and he’s also 22nd in the nation in total offense (274.00 avg.). Gabbert has completed 88-of-130 passes so far for 852 yards and 4 TDs, in helping lead MU to wins over Illinois, McNeese State and a dramatic late rally to beat San Diego State. Gabbert is now 11-5 as a starter at Mizzou entering Saturday’s game.
Gabbert threw for a season-high 351 yards in the win over San Diego State last week, as he completed 28-of-51 passes, including the game-winning TD to T.J. Moe covering 68 yards with just :51 seconds left. He became the first Tiger QB to throw a game-winning TD in the final minute of play since Pete Woods beat 2nd-ranked Ohio State in Columbus in 1976 (a 22-21 win with :12 seconds left).
Gabbert did throw his first two interceptions of the season in the 4th quarter against SDSU, but he also helped stake the Tigers to a 17-7 lead late in the first half when he scrambled 11 yards for his first rushing TD of the season, on a play where all his receivers were covered.
In limited action gainst McNeese State, Gabbert completed his first 15 passes, and eventually finished the game 26-of-31 (220 yards, 1 TD) to break the MU single-game completion percentage record with a mark of 83.9%, breaking the old standard of 83.8% set in 2008 by Chase Daniel vs. Buffalo.
In the opener against Illinois, Gabbert helped lead the Tigers to a 20-point 2nd half as MU rallied for its 23-13 win over Illinois in St. Louis. Gabbert finished the game 34-of-48 for 281 yards and two TDs. While he was solid in the first half (14-of-20 passing, 114 yards, QB rating of 117.88), he enjoyed a more effective 2nd half, as he completed 20-of-28 passes for 167 yards and 2 TDs (QB rating of 145.10).
Gabbert ended 2009 ranked 2nd in the Big 12 Conference (29th nationally) in passing efficiency, with a rating of 140.45. He was also 4th in the Big 12 and 11th in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 292.08 yards per game.
The fourth QB to start for 10th-year Head Coach Gary Pinkel in his Mizzou tenure, Gabbert hopes he can continue a trend his predecessors Brad Smith and Chase Daniel achieved – increasing the win totals dramatically from the first year to the second year as a starter.
Smith started as a redshirt freshman in 2002 and helped the Tigers to a 5-7 record. In his second year as a starter, the Tigers went 8-5 in 2003 – an improvement of 3 wins. Daniel started for the first time in 2006 as a true sophomore, and he helped take the Tigers to an 8-5 record. In his 2nd year running the show, the Tigers exploded for a school-record 12-2 record – an improvement of 4 wins.
GRABNER QUIETLY STANDING OUT IN PUNT GAME
Senior P Matt Grabner is making quite an impression in his first year on the field for Mizzou. After initially attending Ole Miss, the Alton, Ill. native transferred to Mizzou and focused on school and playing club soccer. After being convinced by friends that he should take his strong kicking leg and try out for the Tiger football team, Grabner did so prior to the 2009 season, and he was invited to join the team as a preferred walk-on.
After watching the Tigers rank 4th in the NCAA in 2009 as a team in net punting (40.5 avg.) thanks to the outstanding year put together by P Jake Harry IV, Grabner had big shoes to fill in 2010. He’s doing just that, and then some. For the season, Grabner has an average of 43.27 yards per kick, which ranks him 6th in the Big 12 Conference, and 31st in the NCAA. The net of his punting has been even more effective, as the Tigers rank 4th in the league, and 24th nationally, in team net punting, with an average of 40.44 yards per punt.
Grabner was called into action extensively Saturday night against San Diego State, and he delivered in fine fashion, as he averaged 45.4 yards on 8 punts. Three of his punts finished inside the Aztec 20-yardline, including one which was downed at the 1-yardline – marking the third straight game he’s gotten a punt down on the opponent 1-yardline.
Grabner’s 3 punts in the 4th quarter when the game was on the line were stellar, as he had kicks of 46 yards, 58 yards (a career-long) and 47 yards. The Aztecs tried to return 4 punts in the game, but could manage only 16 yards in returns.
EXTRA-POINT STREAK UP TO 248 FOR TIGERS
What’s the most assured way to break up a no-hitter in baseball? Talk about a no-hitter in the middle of it, of course. With that in mind, it’s with a healthy respect for sports superstitions that we reluctantly bring up this impressive streak for Missouri – the Tigers have converted on 248 consecutive extra point attempts entering the game Saturday against Miami (Ohio).
The last time Mizzou missed an extra point (not including 2-point attempts), was back in 2005 at Colorado. Mizzou missed a PAT on its only kick attempt in a 41-12 loss that year to Colorado, and hasn’t missed since. After that, the streak has included:
A fun way to give the streak perspective is to consider the fact that the last time Mizzou missed a PAT kick, MU’s current batch of first-year freshmen were only in the 8th grade!
Missouri is now within reach of the NCAA record for consecutive PATs made by a school. The record is 262 by Syracuse, achieved from 1978 to 1989 by 7 different kickers.
MIZZOU HAS STRING OF 20-STRAIGHT NON-CONFERENCE REG. SEASON WINS
While conference play is always the most important part of the season, getting to league play in good shape is also a big deal. Gary Pinkel’s Tigers have done a masterful job of navigating the non-conference season over the past few years, as they carry a string of 20-consecutive non-conference wins during the regular season into Saturday’s game against Miami (Ohio).
The last time Mizzou dropped a pre-Big 12 game was back in 2005 (New Mexico).
DEFENSE RANKED 8TH IN NATION WITH 10 TURNOVERS FORCED
Mizzou’s rallying cry on defense each day is, “It’s all about the ball,” a saying meant to put the focus on getting the ball for the Tiger offense. Through 3 games in 2010, that mantra has served Mizzou well, as the Tigers enter Saturday’s game against Miami tied for 8th in the NCAA for most turnovers gained in the nation, with 10. MU’s 3-game average of 3.33 takeaways puts the Tigers on pace for just shy of 40 turnovers, which would be a nice step up from the 23 total gained in 13 games in 2009 (1.78 avg.).
After getting 9 takeaways in their first 2 games combined, Mizzou couldn’t get the ball out against San Diego State last Saturday, but the one they did manage was huge, as it was a goal line interception in the 4th quarter by senior CB Kevin Rutland that helped play a key role in MU’s eventual 27-24 win.
The big plays began against Illinois in the 2010 opener, when Mizzou nabbed 3 interceptions and 1 fumble in a 4-turnover day, and they continued last Saturday against McNeese as MU collected 3 more INTs and 2 fumbles. Combined with the Tiger offenses’ ability to hang onto the ball (3 turnovers so far), MU’s turnover margin of +3.00 per game is currently 2nd-best in the nation (Ohio State is #1, at +3.50 p/g).
Mizzou ranked 50th in 2009 with 23 turnovers gained (15 fumbles, 8 INTs) in 13 games. The 7 INTs so far in 2010 are already just 1 shy of the total of 8 INTs the Tigers got in 13 games in 2009. The 2010 ratio of 7 INTs in 98 opponent passing attempts so far is 1-in-14.0, compared to 1-in-59.4 attempts in 2009 (8 INTs in 475 attempts).
Aldon Smith WINS WALTER CAMP NATIONAL AWARD FOR PLAY VS. ILLINOIS
Senior LB Andrew Gachkar is one of those quiet types of kids who flips the switch to a hard-hitting machine on the football field – he might be soft-spoken for the most part, but on the field he packs a wallop.
He’s definitely emerging as a leader of the Tiger defense, as through 3 games, he’s a big reason for MU’s improved play on that side of the ball. He enters the Miami game tied for the team lead in tackles, with 18, and his 3.0 tackles for loss are 2nd-most on the team, just one behind leader Aldon Smith. Gachkar leads the team with 3 pass break ups, and he’s had a hand in 3 turnovers (most on the team), as he’s forced 1 fumble, recovered another, and grabbed his 1st career interception in game #2 against McNeese State.
Gachkar had an impactful day to start the year, as he tallied 7 tackles against Illinois in MU’s 23-13 season-opening win. He made his presence felt big-time in the first quarter when he came in to sandwich Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase on a keeper that popped the ball free near midfield, a fumble that the Tigers jumped on to end the drive. Later in the game, Gachkar broke up a pair of passes, including one on 3rd down when Illinois was backed up inside its own 10-yardline.
After notching 3 tackles in limited time during a blowout of McNeese State, Gachkar came back with an 8-tackle outing last Saturday against San Diego State, which included 2.0 tackles for loss (6 yards in all).
Pretty good stuff for a guy who almost had his football career ended before his sophomore season. After playing as a true freshman in 2007, Gachkar had blood clots develop in his arms and upper body during the off-season, and he eventually had to have one of his ribs removed to remedy the problem. It wasn’t known initially if he’d be able to play football again, but Gachkar worked hard to get back on the field and he played in all 14 games. He became a starter for the first time in 2009, and he registered a career-best 80 tackles in 13 starts, which was 2nd-most on the team.
TIGER PASS DEFENSE RANKS 5TH IN NATION IN EFFICIENCY
Mizzou’s propensity for snagging interceptions (MU’s 7 INTs gained so far is tied for 5th-most in the nation through 3 games) has helped the Tigers’ pass defense keep opponents’ passing attacks in check.
Mizzou enters Saturday’s game against Miami ranked 5th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, with a rating of just 82.11. Opponents have averaged only 150.3 yards per game in the air against Mizzou (the Tigers rank 22nd-best in the nation in that category), and have thrown 7 interceptions, compared to only 2 touchdowns (one of those was a 4th-quarter TD in garbage time by McNeese State).
The ranking signifies a big improvement from the 2009 season, when the Tiger defense ranked 74th nationally in pass efficiency, with a rating of 132.54 for opposing QBs. The highest Mizzou has ever ranked in the category (which wasn’t tracked until 1990 by the NCAA) was in 2004, when the Tigers ranked 12th (104.28 rating).
RESSEL RETURNS AFTER ALL-AMERICAN & RECORD-SETTING 2009 SEASON
In 2009, Mizzou took to the field with the daunting task of having to replace departed PK Jeff Wolfert, who, in his three seasons (2006-08), set the NCAA combined kicking accuracy record, as he made a combined 244-of-257 kicks (59-of-72 FGs, plus 185-of-185 PATs), for a career percentage of 94.9%.
In stepped sophomore Grant Ressel, who won the kicking job in the final week of training camp, and who took the field in the 2009 season opener with exactly zero career kicks under his belt. All Ressel did during his sophomore season was establish himself as the most accurate kicker in the nation, as he made a combined 65-of-66 total kicks (98.5%) – a mark which broke the NCAA single-season record for best combined kick accuracy.
Ressel also led the NCAA in FG percentage among those with 13 or more attempts (96.3%). For the season, Ressel, who joined Mizzou in 2007 as a walk-on (he’s now on scholarship), made 26-of-27 FGs, and was perfect on 39-of-39 PATs.
Through 3 games in 2010, Ressel has picked up where he left off, although he did start the year with an uncharacteristic miss against Illinois, when a high snap threw the timing off of his first attempt of the season, and his 37-yarder went just wide. After that, he’s been perfect, as he connected 33, 27 and 34 against Illinois (the last two which came with the game still in the balance in the 4th quarter), then from 27 and 32 yards against McNeese State, and that was followed by makes from 34 and 38 yards against San Diego State. For the 2010 season, Ressel is 7-of-8 on FGs and 11-of-11 on PATs, making him 33-of-35 on FGs (94.3%) and 50-of-50 on PATs (100.0% for the non-math majors out there) for his career.
He forever etched his name fondly into the hearts of Tiger fans in the 2009 regular-season finale against arch-rival Kansas, when he made four FGs (43, 28, 37, 27 yards), including the game-winning 27-yarder as time expired to give Mizzou a comeback 41-39 win. Ressel’s only miss on the year was a 43-yard attempt against Nebraska in terrible downpour conditions, on a play where the snap that was off a bit, which threw off the timing of the kick.
For his efforts, Ressel was named a 1st-Team All-American by Sports Illustrated, becoming MU’s first-ever kicker to achieve 1st-Team All-American status.
||# Seasons (Years)
||19 (1935-42, 46-56)
PINKEL STANDS 3RD ON ALLTIME MU COACHING WINS LIST
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 10th season at MU (20th overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 141-83-3 (62.8%). The Illinois game to open the 2008 season was the 200th in Pinkel’s head coaching career.
Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 48-21 (69.6%) over the past 5+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, has a 10-year record in Columbia of 70-46 (60.4%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 42 of his last 58 games overall.
MU’s win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 70.
Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935. At right is a quick look at the top winning coaches in MU history.
For his efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.
Mizzou’s bowl appearance in 2009 means that Pinkel has led MU to 6 bowl games overall, and he now joins Devine as the only other coach to guide MU to 6 bowl games.
Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 6 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008 and 8-5 in 2009), with those representing 6 of MU’s 8 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007 and 2008 represent the first football conference title of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown.
In November of 2008, Pinkel agreed to a new seven-year contract, meaning he’ll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2015 season.