Ten Major Positives For Mizzou Against Alabama
Ten Major Positives For Mizzou Against Alabama
No one who follows the Missouri Tigers has to be told that this season isn't going quite the way they'd hoped it would.
Now don't get Tiger fans wrong; no one expected Mizzou to waltz into the SEC and just start racking up the W's. The only thing Columbia and mid-Missouri fans have heard about is how tough and physical the SEC is. The surprise isn't on the SEC side of the ball. No one is going over any one of Missouri's three SEC losses so far and saying, "Well we just didn't know how tough and physical this was going to be."
No, the surprise has lied in two major things. One of them, the obvious, is the terrible fortune of injuries to the offensive line just before the season began. The only original starter that will play against Alabama will be left tackle Elvis Fisher, and even he has missed nearly half the games so far. Head coach Gary Pinkel has said that the injuries to his line is one of the most bazaar things he's ever had to deal with as a coach. Injuries to his other stars have been costly as well, most notably to the Big 12's leading rusher from last season, Henry Josey.
The other problem that has crippled Missouri are the simple mistakes. Kendial Lawrence dropping two easy pitches against the South Carolina Gamecocks, high snaps, fumbles, the safety against the Vanderbilt Commodores... Mizzou is simply shooting itself in the foot from an utter lack of concentration.
I'm not taking any credit away from the SEC defenders. Jarvis Jones is now a household name in Columbia and Jadeveon Clowney owned the Tiger offense. These guys are studs and Missouri had no answer for them. But without question, the Tigers are not competing up to their full potential based on their own mistakes. Taking out the missed opportunities and costly mistakes, the Tigers' record could be a lot more attractive.
For the SEC fans who are convinced that Missouri is the new "Vandy," I got news for you. Although the Tigers are still looking for their first win against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, they still have plenty of things going their way. Let's examine 10 things that are absolutely in Missouri's favor as they head into the clash against Alabama.
McNulty Familiar With Berkstresser
Freshman center Brad McNulty has been thrust right into the spotlight of the offensive line. The great news about him being the center is his level of familiarity with backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser. McNulty and Berkstresser have worked together in the second unit since spring practice, and are very familiar with making the exchange with one another. Look for snap errors and timing to be at a minimum when the Tigers take the field against Alabama.
O-Line Accumulating Experience
It's no secret the the offensive line is in shambles compared to how they looked in the spring, but all of this talk about players being in unfamiliar roles is starting to become...well, familiar. The offensive line has been shuffled around and has experienced woes from some top SEC defenders, but they have gotten a good amount of experience under their belts now. Let's see if the Tigers O-line has learned from the games they've played so far and can start making some positive stands.
Defense Firing On All Cylinders
While the offense has been sputtering at times, the defense has gone almost unnoticed in the waves of criticism Missouri has faced this year. The linebacking group anchored by Andrew Wilson has looked solid. Defensive back E.J. Gaines has earned a lot of respect from offensive coordinators so far. One might have to almost be ready to call his area "Gaines Island" if he keeps performing at this level. And let's not forget the defensive line who has been right on par with sacks and tackles for loss.
Senior Brad Madison was the only returning starter on the D-line. A huge question mark at the beginning of the season, the line has answered questions with a resounding positive performance.
Marcus Murphy, Dorial Green-Beckham Return
Missouri missed the services of two of their outstanding playmakers a week ago when Marcus Murphy was out with a hand injury, and Dorial Green-Beckham was serving a one-game suspension. Murphy is back, and is listed as the kick returner on the depth chart, and Green-Beckham will resume his spot as the No. 2 Y-slot receiver. Having both of these players back is a massive plus for the Tigers.
Brandon Ivory Questionable
Although he's not technically a starter, defensive tackle Brandon Ivory is quintessential in the rotation of the D-line, especially in the scheme of a no-huddle offense like Missouri. It is possible that Ivory could still get into the game since he's listed as questionable, but look for Mizzou to pound the run up the middle in an effort to attempt to exploit the only major injury that will affect Alabama in Saturday's game.
Berkstresser Knows He's the Starter
Of all of the positive, this may be the single most important one for the offense. In Week 3 against the Arizona State Sun Devils, Berkstresser knew that he was going to be the quarterback. He was able to prepare for them, watch film, and approach the game knowing that he was the starter. In the game against Vanderbilt, Berkstresser was not the starter, had not prepared to play against Vanderbilt in the same fashion, and even admitted that he was nervous and unprepared, something that took Pinkel by surprise in his early week press conference.
Since Berkstresser knows that he will be the starter and can prepare for the game as such, look for him to come out more confident in the game against Alabama.
Mizzou is 7-1 Following a Loss Since 2010
No one likes to lose in college football, but the best thing you can do after a loss is come right back on the field and win, and that's exactly what Missouri has done seven out of the last eight times they've lost. The Tigers will be out to prove that they can play better than they have, and having an opponent like Alabama where they feel that they have nothing to lose, just may be the perfect opportunity to get a fire started under the players.
Last Time No. 1 Came to Columbia, They Lost
In 2010's version of Homecoming, the BCS No. 1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners came to Columbia, the last time the nation's No. 1 team visited Missouri. And just as the Tigers had hoped, the strong play of their defense and their ability to move they ball allowed them to be successful, knocking off the Sooners 36-27.
Mizzou is No. 3 in the Nation in Fumble Takeaways
The name of the game has always been takeaways for the Tigers, and 2012 has been no exception. In fact, Missouri is No. 3 in the FBS with nine fumble recoveries. They also have an amazing steak of 24 consecutive games with a turnover. They will need this stat in their favor big time if they want to have success against Alabama.
Sheldon Richardson is No. 1 Tackling SEC Defensive Lineman
This old man is playing some solid football. How good is Sheldon Richardson right now? He leads SEC defensive lineman in tackles, that's how good. If Richardson and the rest of the defense can perform at a high level against Alabama, there's no telling what could happen.