November 5, 2009

Know the opponent: Missouri

SicEmSports.com got in touch with Missouri football expert Gabe DeArmond from PowerMizzou.com. He was able to answer five questions about the Tigers as we continue our previews of the Bears' weekend opponent.

1 - Has missouri's offense changed since Dave Christensen, and how have they looked in the post Daniel, Maclin, Coffman era?

It's dropped off, no doubt about it. The Tigers have struggled with consistency. With Daniel, he was so accurate, that it really wasn't a problem for Missouri to go on 10-12 play drives because Daniel could hit most of his passes. Blaine Gabbert isn't as accurate. The Tigers have had to rely on the big play much more than the sustained drive. In the last couple of weeks, we've seen Missouri do what many have been asking for all season: Rely on the run game. Three tailbacks combined to run for 100 yards on Texas, which is something nobody has really been able to do against the Horns. Against a Colorado team that isn't good, but has been solid against the run, Mizzou ran 45 times for almost 200 yards with 99 coming from the starter Derrick Washington. It's a different offense, no doubt, but I don't think anybody has really seen the true offense because Gabbert has been battling a sprained ankle the last four weeks.


2 - Other than Gabbert and Washington, who are the offensive players that have stepped up in place of the talented group that just left?


Danario Alexander. He's always been a great athlete, but couldn't stay on the field. He's been healthy this year and he's in the top 12 in the country in receptions, yards, yards per game and touchdowns. Missouri hasn't gotten a lot of production out of anyone else in the passing game in the last few weeks, but Alexander is one of the top three or four receivers in the league, and probably one of the top ten in the nation.


3 - How about on defense, who are some players Baylor fans should look out for other than Sean Weatherspoon?


Aldon Smith had three sacks against Colorado and is in the top five in the Big 12 in sacks and tackles for a loss. He's just a redshirt freshman, but he's a beast. Will Ebner had surgery on a torn meniscus the week before the Oklahoma State game and was back playing against Texas 12 days later. He's a huge hitter. The secondary hasn't really had any standouts, but juco safeties Jasper Simmons have taken over the starting jobs and are playing well.

4 - What have been Missouri's biggest strengths and weaknesses this season?

The strength has been--outside of the Texas game--the defense. Missouri is allowing about 90 yards and three points fewer per game than it did last year despite losing three players to the NFL draft and four other starters. They've also been good in the kicking game, missing just one field goal and ranking in the top ten in the country in net punting. On the flip side, they just haven't been consistent on offense. They've gotten something going and then shot themselves in the foot with turnovers, dropped passes and penalties. It looked better last week, but Missouri still hasn't really put a full offensive game together.


5 - What are your predictions for the game?


Robert Griffin was the kind of quarterback that could give Missouri (and everyone else) serious problems. Without him, I just don't see the Baylor offense being able to put much pressure on a Tiger defense that is playing pretty well. Missouri got a huge win last week to pick itself up off the mat and now the Tigers can realistically look at making a run to win the Big 12 North for a third year in a row. I honestly see this is a pretty uneventful game where the Tigers put in a workmanlike 30-7 win.

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