Missouri Tigers News and Notes: Defenders Admit to Confusion Vs. Texas
There's not much to break down in the wake of Missouri's epic no-show against No. 3 Texas on Saturday night.
The Tigers were dominated equally in all three phases of the game. Plus, I exerted too much energy letting things fly in my last article. There's no need to rehash all the pain.
Here now, while the Tigers pull their heads from their rear ends, is a brief list of the slivers of good, as well as all the bad.
What went right
Kendial Lawrence: The true freshman, who sparked MU's lone scoring drive with 30 yards on three carries, appears to be a real find and a budding star.
Aldon Smith: The redshirt freshman was all over the field, racking up two sacks and a game-high 11 tackles from his defensive end position, which is just absurd. Consistently praised by commentators Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit, Smith is going to be a joy to watch over the next few seasons.
Sadly, that's it.
All that went wrong
I can't be the only one that had flashbacks to last season while watching the avalanche of coverage breakdowns and mishaps with communication. With frustration mounting, the you-know-what finally hit the fan when defensive coordinator Dave Steckel and oft-beaten cornerback Carl Gettis took part in a nationally televised sparring session.
The offensive line
Save for a few impressively large holes that were opened up in Texas' top-ranked run defense on the scoring drive, the boys up front were overmatched again. But the writing on the wall occurred early, when right guard Austin Wuebbels was flagged for a false start on Missouri's first play from scrimmage.
Offensive coordinator David Yost
I realize that Yost is perhaps still feeling things out after only seven games as an offensive coordinator, but he is not exactly a stranger to calling a game, which is a duty he shared with former coordinator Dave Christensen in past seasons.
With Missouri down by 28 at halftime and an injured Blaine Gabbert still in the game, why continue to air it out? You have no chance of winning the game, so why not at least attempt to get a feel for where the running game could go in the future?
And what was up with that laughable decision to run a throwback between Gabbert and Derrick Washington that had absolutely no chance of working and nearly ended in Gabbert getting his head taken off? Sorry, Yost: Trick plays do not work against defenses as fast and as smart as Texas'.
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel
Apparently, Missouri's defensive gameplan didn't account for receiver Jordan Shipley making the plane ride to Columbia.
Most will argue that other than Colt McCoy, the one player you have to stop on Texas' offense is Shipley, who was inexplicably given all sorts of room to roam the field thanks to MU's lax coverage and confusion in the secondary. After one play, when McCoy hit Shipley down the middle for a 31-yard gain to open the game, it was clear what kind of night it would be for MU's defense.
Head coach Gary Pinkel
Yes, coaches often bear too much of the blame for a loss, but can't a significant portion be placed on Pinkel and his staff for this one?
As is his customary postgame routine after a loss, Pinkel accepted blame for poor preparation, but he also repeatedly confessed disappointment in his players. I have no problem with that. But how many more times will we have to hear the same schtick? It makes you wonder what's going on with this team between Saturdays.
"Most games, we have a drawing board and whenever the defense comes to the sideline we’ll draw up adjustments for what we need to change to stop them," Ebner told reporters. "We didn’t draw up something on the board one time. We were beating ourselves. We weren’t communicating on coverages. Most of their scores, we had one side of the field running one coverage and the other side running another coverage."
Huh? You mean to tell us fans that no adjustments were made, even though Texas was scoring on every possession? The communication problems were obvious, but you can't tell me that Missouri would have stopped the Longhorns otherwise. Sorry, not buying it.
Oh, but it gets better. Ebner would go on to say that he was surprised at the problems between sideline and field, especially considering every defensive player is required to learn the signals, not to mention the fact that players who see the field all wear wristbands with the defensive calls plastered on them.
But fellow linebacker Andrew Gachkar took it up a notch, admitting that at some points during the game, one half of the defense was running one call while the other half was running another. "I haven’t seen errors like that since last year," Gachkar said. "Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. At points, the crowd was so loud that people weren’t getting the same calls.
"Some people might have been running a zone while some people were running a blitz. It was just a mess."
I'm not even going to touch this one, other than to guess that the 71,000 in attendance at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night were actually a detriment.
Middle linebacker Luke Lambert suffered a dislocated shoulder on the first play from scrimmage against Texas, head coach Gary Pinkel reported at his Monday teleconference this morning. Pinkel said that Lambert has the choice to either continue to play or undergo surgery to repair what is suspected to be a labrum tear. Results of an MRI are expected to be released Monday afternoon.
A junior, Lambert began the season as the starter at middle linebacker, but he has since been splitting snaps with Ebner, who started against Furman while Lambert was nursing a sore ankle.
The crowd of 71,004 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night was the 10th-largest in school history and the highest attendance for a Missouri game since the venue was reconfigured in 1995.
Missouri amassed 173 yards of offense against the Longhorns, marking the lowest total since Pinkel took over in 2001. But that pales in comparison to the season finale of 1999, when MU scrapped together only 116 yards in a 66-0 loss to Kansas State.
Photo credit: Gerik Parmele/Columbia Daily Tribune
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