Missouri Tigers News and Notes: Baylor Still Confident Amid Struggles

Ryan FallerAnalyst INovember 3, 2009

Let's put a nice, little ribbon on Missouri's road win over Colorado, as well as look ahead to the Baylor Bears, with a few notes of interest:

1) Fans finally got the performance out of the MU running game they've been clamoring for all season long. The Tigers gained 184 rushing yards on a season-high 45 carries. The last time Missouri put the ball in the gut of a running back with that much frequency was against Texas Tech in 2007 , when seven different players, including quarterback Chase Daniel, carried the ball at least three times en route to a 203-yard day on 49 attempts.

2) Running back Derrick Washington narrowly missed his second 100-yard game of the season against the Buffs. The junior produced 99 yards on 22 carries, one shy of his career-high. Washington is on pace to finish the season with 825 yards on 197 carries, which would be more than 200 yards fewer than his output a season ago. In 2008, Washington carried the ball 177 times for 1,036 yards.

3) Perhaps the most impressive aspect of MU's dominating defensive performance in Boulder was the way in which the Tigers held CU running back Rodney Stewart in check. In fact, "in check" may not be the proper phrase.

As a team, Colorado backpedaled for -14 yards on 24 attempts, and Stewart produced only three yards on 10 carries. This is the same Stewart, who is the centerpiece of CU's run-oriented offense, that singed West Virginia's No. 9-ranked run defense for 105 yards .

4) It was refreshing to see some disruption caused by the Missouri defense for once. I've thought all along that this unit had adequate athletic ability. Granted, the talent level is not up to par with, say, a Texas or Alabama, but the Tigers certainly have the playmakers necessary to generate turnovers, which is something they had been horrible at the first seven games of the season.

I understand that guarding against the big play was the mindset of defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, but how great was it to see him turn CU's offense into a junior varsity squad with his willingness to bring the blitz from all angles?

I'm not saying the Tigers will employ the same mentality for the rest of the season, because the remaining opposing offenses will dictate otherwise, but the eight sacks—and the chaos that ensued—were definitely a sight for sore eyes.

5) In case you were too enthralled with the sudden mobility of quarterback Blaine Gabbert to notice, kickoff specialist Tanner Mills did not make the trip to Colorado.

Mills was suspended by head coach Gary Pinkel for violating an undisclosed team policy . Field-goal kicker Grant Ressel took over the duties, dropping several kicks in the end zone in addition to putting together a perfect 6-for-6 day on field goals and PATs.

Now on to this Saturday's opponent, the Baylor Bears:

1) It's been a rough go of it for head coach Art Briles and the Bears (3-5, 0-4), who were expected to make a minor push in the Big 12 South behind sophomore phenom quarterback Robert Griffin III .

But as soon as Griffin went down for the season with a torn ACL on Sept. 26 , the Bears' season started to crumble. And they haven't recovered, winning just once since the star quarterback's injury (against Kent State) and losing each of their first four Big 12 games.

2) A quick look at the numbers certainly tells the story of the 2009 Baylor Bears. Through four conference games, the Bears rank no better than fifth in the Big 12 in every major statistical category , including dead last in scoring offense (8.5 pts/game), rushing offense (48), rush defense (194.2), and total defense (439.5).

But it doesn't end there. Baylor also brings up the rear in time of possession (25:46 per game) and is one of the more heavily flagged teams in the conference, having incurred an average of nearly eight penalties through four Big 12 games.

3) If this piece by Waco Tribune-Herald columnist John Werner on Monday is any indication, though, the Bears appear to be upbeat as they make the trek to Columbia this Saturday. Stay tuned this week as I hope to contact Mr. Werner for an edition of Enemy Intel leading up to the game.


Other notes

1) Middle linebacker Luke Lambert has opted to undergo surgery on his dislocated shoulder and will miss the rest of the season. Lambert, a junior who will be replaced by sophomore Will Ebner , is scheduled to have the procedure performed on Friday.

Lambert, who began the season as a starter before being supplanted by Ebner because of a nagging ankle problem, suffered the injury on the first play against Texas on Oct. 24, and an MRI later revealed a tear in the shoulder's labrum.

2) Backup cornerback Munir Prince, who has been hobbled by a bad hamstring the past few weeks, is listed as probable for Saturday.

3) Saturday's game against Baylor will not be televised. It was announced on Monday that Missouri's Nov. 14 meeting with Kansas State will be aired on Versus at 11:30 am CT.


Photo credit: Waco Tribune-Herald