Well, in case you missed it, Missouri and Illinois played the biggest game of college football's first week in St. Louis this Saturday night. After my preview on the game got some mixed reviews, I was more anxious then ever to see my Tigers pull out a win.
It wasn't pretty, and there are a few bad notes to mention, but the Missouri Tigers started their season 1-0 against Illinois, winning 52-42 in front of a record crowd. Let's get to the recap shall we?
-On the most urgent front, it doesn't appear that Jeremy Maclin was seriously injured in the fourth quarter. He did hurt his ankle, but it isn't broken, and Chase Daniel even assured reporters that J-Mac will probably be practicing on Tuesday. I'm not sure that the diagnosis will be that positive, but Maclin probably won't even be needed until October in Lincoln. Tiger fans shouldn't worry too much about this injury.
-Boy was that game sloppy. On both sides of the ball Missouri just didn't seem to completely have their head on straight. At times they looked great and at times they looked awful. That word sums it up to me. Sloppy. But a win is a win.
-You gotta tip your hat to the seniors on offense that look like they'll have a big year. Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, and Tommy Saunders looked good for the most part. Daniel had numerous passes dropped, but was decent, Coffman had 120 yards and a TD, and Saunders had two TDs. Their leadership will be important.
-Speaking of Chase Coffman, DID YOU SEE THAT CATCH AND RUN HE MADE? The dude made a catch, cut to the middle of the field breaking one tackle, broke another tackle from behind, hurtled another defender, stiff-armed a fourth, and was finally brought down many yards later. Baller status.
-Although Coffman was pretty good, Martin Rucker is and will be sorely missed. I didn't realize how big of a void he left until tonight. Catching lasers over the middle and carrying defenders on his back became the norm for T-Ruck, so the Tigers will have to find others to step up (Jared Perry perhaps? Maybe frosh Andrew Jones?)
-And Derrick Washington stepped into the limelight tonight. Many think he is more talened then Tony Temple but just needs to focus. Well he broke off 130 yards on 18 carries for two TDs, and looked like a beast against a good Illini D.
-As much as Willy Mo blitzed and the Tigers played a contain-style D, Juice torched them through the air, good for 458 yards and 5 TD. But on the ground he was dismal, gaining just five yards on 17 carries. What does this mean?
It means the Tigers made Juice beat them with his arm, and he was capable. The only thing that stopped him was too much power from the Tiger offense, and two TDs from Sean Weatherspoon. Juice is definitely WAY improved in the pocket, and I pity teams that have to play him from now on.
-Sean Weatherspoon, and his pick-six and strip for a TD were impressive, but so was the rest of the LB corp. Like I said, the Tigers dared Illinois to beat them through the air, often leaving Carl Gettis and Castine Bridges exposed over the top. Both CBs would also stay in to guard against the run. You wonder if they played poorly or the scheme left them out to dry.
Anyway, back to the point, the LB corp played big at the line, holding a usually stout Illinois rushing attack to only 73 yards on 35 rushes, good for 2.08 yds/carry.
-Ron Zook was bush-league and tasteless at the end of the game. It was almost like he was running up the score; scoring pointless points in a finished game. Did a 10-point loss look that much better then a 17-point loss? Will that extra TD look that big on Juice's Heisman resume? Please.
-Overall, I can honestly say the better team won. Missouri didn't play well and still beat Illinois. But the Illini have a long season ahead of them, and if Beanie Wells isn't healthy, I seriously think they can win the Big 10. Juice is that good. He showed great touch on his deep balls and is dangerous on the ground as always.
Mizzou doesn't have the deep weapons corps just yet. They definitely have time to rest Jeremy Maclin and wait on Danario Alexander before Nebraska, but younger players like Andrew Jones need to adjust to the college game fast, because gaping holes were left by Will Franklin and Martin Rucker.