Time For Tigers to Fly

MUTIGERS.COM The last time Mizzou was in the state of Florida, Kendial Lawrence ran for for 104 yards and a touchdown at UCF on Sept. 29.
The last time Mizzou was in the state of Florida, Kendial Lawrence ran for for 104 yards and a touchdown at UCF on Sept. 29.

Oct. 29, 2012

Missouri Tigers (4-4, 1-4) at #8/#8 Florida Gators (7-1, 6-1)

KICKOFF: 11:01 a.m. CDT.

STADIUM: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548 – Natural grass surface). Florida is 4-0 at home this season, and stands 126-18 (.87.5%) overall there since 1990.

RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), Howard Richards (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.tv.

TV: ESPN2.Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Jenn Brown (Sideline Reporter), Bryan Ryder (producer).

   MU - None.
   UF - 8th / 8th.

SERIES: Mizzou leads 1-0, with the only meeting a 20-18 MU win in the 1966 Sugar Bowl against Gator Heisman QB Steve Spurrier.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent State, '75), 89-58 at MU (12th year) and 162-95-3 overall (22nd year). Pinkel is 0-0 vs. Florida and Will Muschamp.
   UF: Will Muschamp (Georgia, '94), 14-7 at UF and overall (2nd year). Muschamp is 0-0 vs. Mizzou and Gary Pinkel.

   The Missouri Tigers (4-4 overall, 1-4 in SEC play) start a tough final stretch to the 2012 season with the first of three road games in the month of November. Over the next four weeks, Mizzou will play three road games, going to two of the three locations in SEC territory which are furthest away from Columbia.
   The road trips begin this Saturday as Mizzou travels 858 miles to Gainesville, Fla., where they'll take on the #8 Florida Gators (7-1, 6-1), in a Noon Eastern/11 a.m. central game which will be televised on ESPN2.
   After that, Mizzou will play at Tennessee (505 miles away) on Nov. 10th, which will be followed by the only home game left this season – a Nov. 17th Senior Day finale against Syracuse. The regular season will wrap up with a Nov. 24th date at #16 Texas A&M (618 miles away) – marking the third straight season Mizzou will play at College Station, Texas.
   Mizzou hopes to carry the momentum of a 33-10 win over Kentucky from last Saturday into the final stretch. The Tigers broke a two-game losing skid with the win over the Wildcats, thanks to a dominating performance by its defense. Mizzou held Kentucky to just 179 yards of total offense, and just 9 first downs, and the offense took advantage of good field position to post the biggest point total of the season against an FBS foe.
   Florida comes into Saturday's game looking to rebound from its first loss of the season. The Gators had ascended to #2 in the polls after a 7-0 start, but Florida dropped a 17-9 game last Saturday to rival Georgia. The Gators were bit by the turnover bug against the Bulldogs, giving the ball away 6 times (including twice in the Georgia endzone). Florida came into that game having lost only 4 turnovers in their first 7 games of the season.
   Hey Tiger fans, does this sound familiar? Georgia LB Jarvis Jones was unstoppable against Florida, as he amassed 13 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 QB sacks, while forcing and recovering 2 fumbles. That's the same Jarvis Jones who almost single-handedly beat Mizzou back in September in Columbia, when he had an interception and fumble recovery inside the MU 5-yardline in the 4th quarter which set up a pair of short Georgia TDs to break open what was a 27-20 Georgia lead at the time. Jones finished the MU game with 9 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel has used it time and again, and he'll be touting it again to his troops as the calendar flips away from October – Those who win in November will be remembered.
   Mizzou fans hope that the 2012 edition of the Tigers takes this mantra to heart as well as recent MU teams. In the last 5 seasons (2007-11), Mizzou has gone 16-4 (80.0%) in the month of November.
   Mizzou enters the final month of the 2012 season with a 4-4 overall record. If that sounds familiar, there's a reason, because just a year ago, the Tigers stood 4-4 overall heading into November. With the season in the balance, the 2011 squad dug in and went on to finish with wins in 3 of their final 4 regular season games to finish the regular season at 7-5, including wins at 16th-ranked Texas A&M (W, 38-31 in OT), home wins over 21st-ranked Texas (W, 17-5) and Texas Tech (W, 31-27) while ending the regular season with a win in Kansas City over Kansas (W, 24-10). The only loss in that stretch was a 42-39 nailbiter at Baylor.
   The Tigers then extended their overall win streak to 4 to close the season, and make it 5 wins in their last 6 games overall, with a commanding 41-24 Independence Bowl win over North Carolina to end the year 8-5 overall.
   Three of those final four regular season games a year ago were away from home (at A&M, at Baylor, neutral vs. Kansas), and in 2012 the Tigers will face similar circumstances, with one home game (Syracuse) and three road games (Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M) coming down the pike.

   Mizzou earned its first-ever win in SEC league play, with a 33-10 win over Kentucky last Saturday in Columbia, Mo. Perhaps it was fitting that the Tigers did it the way it is thought to be done in the SEC traditionally – with a stout defense and an offense focused on the run game and clock control.
   The Tiger defense held Kentucky to 179 yards of total offense (a season low for a Tiger opponent), while MU's offense ran for 186 yards and 3 TDs and controlled the clock for a whopping 36:26 of possession time (the most by Mizzou since a 2010 win over Oklahoma, when MU held it for 38:26).
   Just how good was the Tiger defense on Saturday? Consider the fact that Kentucky gained 110 yards on 14 plays in their first two series (good for 7.9 yards per snap). After settling in and making the proper adjustments, Mizzou allowed a mere 69 yards to the Wildcats on their final 42 snaps – good for a meager 1.6 yards per play.
   Nine of Kentucky's 14 possessions ended in either a three-and-out, or a series where the ball was turned over in three plays or less.
   And it's not like the Tiger defense wasn't up against the wall. In a span of five straight possessions that Kentucky had in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the average starting point for the Wildcats on those five drives was the Mizzou 49-yardline. In those five drives, all Mizzou gave up was a mere three points total. The Wildcats ran 24 plays in those five drives combined, and netted 25 yards.

   Senior TB Kendial Lawrence was Mizzou's offensive standout in Saturday's win over Kentucky, as he ran for 108 yards and 2 TDs to help lead Mizzou to its first-ever SEC win. Lawrence carried a career-high 23 times on a day when the ground game was being heavily leaned on by Mizzou.
   He scored on a 5-yard run to open scoring in the first quarter (on a 4-play drive in which he carried on all 4 plays for 25 yards total), and followed with a 2-yard run just before halftime to give the Tigers a 17-10 lead. He accounted for 115 yards from scrimmage on the day, or 42% of MU's yardage total of 273.
   Lawrence now has eclipsed his previous season best rushing total, with his 632 yards and 7 TDs. He enters Saturday's game at Florida ranked 9th in the SEC and 61st in the NCAA, with his per-game average of 79.00 yards. The 100-yard outing was the 3rd of Lawrence's season, and the 5th of his career.

   If a game-changing play can be made on the opening possession of a game, then Mizzou All-American candidate junior DT Sheldon Richardson did just that Saturday against Kentucky, when he forced a fumble deep in MU territory on the game-opening drive, and returned the ball 60 yards the other way to set up Mizzou's first TD of the day.
   The Wildcats took the opening kick and marched quickly to a 1st-and-10 from the MU 12-yardline to put the Mizzou Homecoming crowd on edge. However, on 2nd-and-11 from the 13, Kentucky's Jonathan George got to the 11-yardline, where Richardson met him and wrapped him up. Richardson stripped the ball, and scooped it up on the 15-yardline. He raced the other way, and made it 60 yards before he was pulled down on the Kentucky 25-yardline – not bad for a 295-pound defensive tackle.
   Richardson finished with 5 tackles on the day, and was a big part of MU's stifling defensive effort which limited UK to just 179 yards of offense and 9 first downs. The Tiger defense forced 3-and-outs on 9 of Kentucky's 14 possessions on the day.
   For his efforts, on Monday morning, Richardson was named the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week.
   Richardson is Mizzou's leading tackler despite being on the interior line, and he has 57 stops on the year heading into Saturday's game at Florida. That total ranks him tops among all SEC interior linemen, and 2nd in the league among all defensive linemen (A&M's Damontre Moore, a DE, has 65 total tackles).

   Mizzou and Florida have met only one other time on the gridiron, and that meeting took place in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, when Dan Devine's Tigers claimed a 20-18 win over the Gators and their eventual Heisman Trophy QB Steve Spurrier.
   The 1966 Sugar Bowl was a tale of two halves. The Missouri Tigers led the Florida Gators at halftime, 17-0 and added a third-quarter field goal to make it 20-0 in favor of MU. But the Gators came roaring back and scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns thanks to talented quarterback Steve Spurrier. Spurrier, the game's MVP and the winner of the Heisman Trophy the next season, threw for two scores and ran for one to spearhead a comeback which was thwarted only when Mizzou's defense, eighth in the country in points allowed, stiffened and stopped all three 2-point conversions by the Gators.
   In its second Sugar Bowl appearance, Missouri's ground game was dominant. The Tigers boasted the country's third-rated rushing attack at 247 yards a game. They topped that with 257 yards against the Gators, while holding Florida to minus 2 yards. Because of Mizzou's defense against the run and the early deficit, Florida was forced to pass often. Spurrier put the ball in the air a record 46 times. He also set Sugar Bowl records with 27 completions, 16 coming in the wild fourth quarter, and 352 passing yards, but did so in a losing effort.
   Mizzou halfback Charlie Brown and quarterback Gary Lane led the Tigers with 120 and 76 yards rushing, respectively. Brown also scored the first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard sweep early in the second quarter. Earl Denny had the other Tiger touchdown on an 11-yard halfback option catch on a pass from Johnny Roland.
   The victory landed the 8-2-1 Tigers in sixth place in the final national polls, just behind Big Eight champion Nebraska, which had beaten the Tigers earlier in the year on a late field goal.

   Redshirt freshman PK Andrew Baggett has found his footing, so to speak, as the season has progressed. He's got a streak of 7 consecutive field goals made coming into Saturday's game at Florida.
   The Lee's Summit, Mo. native connected on both field goal attempts (from 43 yards and 31 yards out) to help Mizzou pull away to a 33-10 win over Kentucky last time out. He also handled kickoff duties all day long vs. The Wildcats and he booted 3 touchbacks in 7 attempts on the day. For the season, Baggett has 5 touchbacks on 13 kickoffs total.
   Baggett is now 10-of-14 on the year in field goals, and 21-of-23 in PATs. He ranks 5th in the SEC with his 1.25 field goals per game average (37th in NCAA), and he's 11th in the SEC in scoring, at 6.38 points per game.
   Baggett won the kicking job in fall camp, unseating Trey Barrow, a senior who handled kicking duties for the last half of the 2011 season, but he had a rough start to the season. Baggett was good on just 3 of his first 7 field goal tries through 3 games, going 2-of-3 against Georgia and then just 1-of-4 in a win over Arizona State. The make against ASU was a career-long 46-yarder.
   Since then, Baggett has made all 7 kicks, including a 22-yarder at South Carolina right before halftime, and that was followed by a perfect 3-of-3 outing against Vanderbilt (31, 28, 22), and then against #1 Alabama, he came in and was perfect on a 41-yard field goal to open the 3rd quarter. That preceded his 2-of-2 day against Kentucky.
   In his 7-for-7 stretch, Baggett has made 3-of-3 from 20-29 yards, 2-of-2 from 30-39 yards, and 2-of-2 from 40-49 yards.

1. Mizzou 17
2. Utah 15
3. Boise State 14
4. SMU 13
  Fresno State 13
  Duke 13
7. 9 Tied With 12

   Defensive coaches preach takeaways at all levels of the game of football. Mizzou's coaches have gotten their message through to the Mizzou defense of late, as the Tigers carry an active streak of 26 games having gained a takeaway into Saturday's game at Florida. The last time Mizzou's defense didn't come up with a turnover was Oct. 30, 2010 at Nebraska (a 31-17 loss).
   The Tigers forced five fumbles, and got three more takeaways (all on fumbles) last Saturday against Kentucky, upping their season total to 19. Mizzou converted those into 20 points (after having just 30 points off turnovers in the seven games prior to that this season), in the 33-10 win. All-star DT Sheldon Richardson made one of the defensive plays of the season to date for the first takeaway, when he tackled and stripped a Kentucky tailback of the ball on the Tiger 11-yardline on the opening drive of the game. Richardson threw the Wildcat aside, picked the ball up at the 15-yardline, and raced 60 yards the other way before the 295-pounder got hauled down at the Kentucky 25-yardline. That set up a TD run by TB Kendial Lawrence for a quick 7-0 lead.
   The other takeaways were induced by DE Brad Madison and LB Will Ebner. Madison got a sack/fumble on the Kentucky 12-yardline that was recovered by MU's LB Zaviar Gooden. That set up a Tiger TD on the first play of the 4th quarter. Later in the 4th, Ebner pursued a pass play to the boundary, and popped the ball loose right after a catch. Teammate E.J. Gaines scooped the ball up at the Kentucky 13-yardline and tightroped his way down the sideline for the touchdown which put a cap on MU's 33-10 win.
   Prior to that, Mizzou's defense was able to create takeaways in its 42-10 loss to #1 Alabama. The Tiger defense forced a pair of Crimson Tide fumbles, which were both forced by DE Michael Sam, with LB Zaviar Gooden pouncing on one, and DE Shane Ray snagging the other. The first was recovered by Gooden at the Mizzou 12-yardline to thwart a potential Tide score, while the second one came on a hit by Sam of Tide QB A.J. McCarron, with Ray recovering at the Alabama 48-yardline.
   Mizzou managed one takeaway against Vanderbilt, courtesy of a Kip Edwards interception in the the 3rd quarter (his team-leading 2nd of the season, 5th career). The turnover streak came oh-so-close to ending the previous Saturday at Central Florida, but just like that, with only 2:29 remaining in the game, junior CB E.J. Gaines popped the ball loose from a UCF receiver after a short catch, and junior DT Sheldon Richardson gladly pounced on the fumble to effectively end the game.
   Mizzou's defenders are doing something right in terms of getting the ball out. Their 17 forced fumbles so far this season is most in the nation. Here's a look:

   One other measurement to consider just how impressive the Mizzou defense has been this year, is to consider the fact that they have been on the field for much more than over half the time of all but two games this season. Only twice to date has Mizzou owned time of possession advantages – both coming in wins over Arizona State (34:51 TOP for Mizzou) and Kentucky (36:26 TOP for Mizzou).
In MU's other 6 games, opponents have had an average time of possession advantage of 33:35 to Mizzou's 26:25.
   That's why it's no small matter to know that the Tiger defense enters the Florida game ranked 25th nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 334.00 yards per game.
   One other way to look at that is how it compares to other top-25 defenses. Among defenses ranked in the NCAA's top-25 entering this weekend, only two others – Oklahoma and Utah State – have been on the field longer on average than MU's defense. The Sooner offense ranks 94th in the NCAA in time of possession (28:30), while Utah State ranks 102nd (27:50). Mizzou ranks 88th (28:45) currently.

Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6
Gary Pinkel 89 11+ (2001-Present) 89-58 .605 8
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 12th season at MU (22nd overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 162-95-3 (62.9%).
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 67-33 (67.0%) over the past 7+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, has a 12-year record in Columbia of 89-58 (60.5%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 61-28 in his last 89 games overall (68.5%). 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 89. The win over Kansas in 2010 was the 150th of his career.
   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.
   In 2007, Pinkel guided the Tigers from unranked in the pre-season to a team which won a school-record 12 games and a final ranking of #4 in the Associated Press Top-25. Mizzou ascended to #1 in the BCS rankings following the regular season, and stood just one half away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game (before Oklahoma pulled away from a halftime tie to win the Big 12 title game). 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, and his 7 bowl games is an MU record.
   Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 8 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011), with those representing 8 of MU's 10 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
   The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007, 2008 and 2010 represent the only football conference titles of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown. In April of 2011, Pinkel agreed to a two-year contract extension, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season.



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