The Missouri Tigers Can Beat K-State By Running The Ball, Then Running Some More

Shane PattonCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 23: Missouri Tigers fans swarm the field after upsetting the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers are coming off their worst game of the season after falling to Texas Tech 24-17.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers might have beaten the Tigers by a wider margin than Texas Tech, but NU was ranked and boasted a stellar defense.

Texas Tech's pass defense was ranked 119 out of 120 FBS Teams, yet Gabbert struggled, completing only 40 percent of his passes for a total of 95 yards.

Mizzou didn’t complete a pass longer than 14 yards against the Red Raiders and converted only 2 of 13 third downs.

So what’s the problem? Is it Gabbert? He’s obviously struggling with his accuracy and timing.

Although, with a bad case of the drops, receivers Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp aren’t helping Gabbert any.

It appears that teams are now staying in man-to-man coverage against the Tigers offense, which is making it difficult for Gabbert to find his rhythm. Oklahoma played a lot of zone defense against Mizzou and Gabbert was able to find the holes and exploit the open spaces with MU’s quick passing attack.

Forcing Gabbert to move around in the pocket helped Nebraska and Texas Tech to disrupt Mizzou’s passing game and throw off Gabbert’s timing.

The last two weeks, Gabbert  has completed just 30 of 72 passes (41.7 percent) after completing 181 of 269 (67.3 percent) in the first seven games.

That being said, I personally think Gabbert will be fine. With the right play-calling and a more balanced attack, Gabbert can get back on track, especially at home this week against the Kansas State Wildcats.

I had many "fans" comment at Missouri Sports Blog this week, stating that Gabbert should be benched for backup quarterback James Franklin. Let's not get carried away here. Franklin has a chance to be a great quarterback once Gabbert leaves for the NFL (and he will play at the next level), but he is not anywhere near Gabbert's caliber at the present time (I'd love to see some form of the "wildcat" with Franklin, especially near the goal line, but that might be pushing it).

Missouri simply tried to force the ball down field too much against the Red Raiders, instead of mixing up some crossing patterns and throwing in some more running plays, they opted to try and stretch the field, which against a 119th ranked pass defense wasn't really a bad game plan...just a poorly executed one.

According to several comments I received this week, Missouri sucks and won't win another game. Really? Have fans forgotten the fact that Mizzou has only two losses on the season? And both games were on the road, to two Big 12 teams no less.

Anyway, these fans can take solace in the fact that Mizzou defends Faurot Field very well under Gary Pinkel. Since 2003, the Tigers are an impressive 38-10 at home giving them a winning percentage of just under 80% (79.2%).

If the Tigers will stick with the run, I mean stick with it even if it doesn’t bring instant results, they can defeat the Wildcats.

Mizzou needs to remain balanced on offense if they want to get back in the win column this Saturday. The spread offense has been great for Mizzou, but when it’s bad, it’s very bad. Too many three and outs prevent Gabbert and his receivers from establishing any kind of rhythm and only builds the confidence of opposing defenses.

I realize my solution sounds very simple, and I agree that it is. If David Yost (offensive coordinator) can stick to the run, the Tigers will move the ball. Running backs Josey and Lawrence have proven to be very effective this season when given the chance to carry the ball and I believe the Tigers can run on Bill Snyder's Wildcats.

Plus, it's Senior Day for 15 Tigers and this will be their last chance to play in front of the home crowd at the 'Zou!

Final Score:     Missouri 31  Kansas State 21