Radio Frustrations with No TV Made Missouri Defensive Woes Visible

Matt ThielSenior Analyst INovember 2, 2008

I love Mizzou radio play-by-play men Mike Kelly and John Kadlec. I think MU has one of the best radio teams in the country. That said, I would rather pour hot sand in my eyes than listen to them call a close game.

The Tigers’ game against Baylor on Saturday wasn’t televised, which was a real shame. In the final weeks of the Daniel/Coffman/Moore era, it isn’t fair to have a game that Mizzou fans can’t actually see. This is 2008, and you’re trying to tell me there isn’t some way to get that game on TV? Really?

But, for whatever reason, it wasn’t. So instead we gathered around a clock radio and listened to the radio broadcast. We’re also now lighting our house by candlelight and only communicating with our families through snail mail to protest college football’s refusal to implement this crazy thing called technology.

But anyway, like I was saying, listening to a close game on the radio is one of the most excruciating experiences imaginable. It’s like expecting to go on a carriage ride but instead stepping onto a roller coaster only you don’t know it because you’re blindfolded the whole time.

Without being able to actually see what happened, I’m going to be limited in the kind of analysis I can give. But I will say this: This defense is garbage. I didn’t need to see the game to come to that conclusion.

All season long I’ve tried to rationalize why this unit has underperformed. At first I said they just needed time to gel. Then I argued they were going to give up more because it’s the nature of the offense to put them on the field more than most defenses. Then last week I hoped the coaching staff’s efforts to simplify the game plan would cure the Tigers’ defensive ailments.

But now I’ve come to grips with reality. This defense, despite being loaded with playmakers and great individual players, is just not very good. It should be good. But it’s not. And I think most of the blame should fall on defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.

Lets face it, Mizzou has never had a championship-caliber defense under Eberflus. He got a lot of credit for the unit’s performance last season, but even that group gave up close to 400 yards against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. Texas coach Mack Brown totally rejuvenated the Longhorns defense in the offseason by bringing in new coordinator Will Muschamp. Gary Pinkel might want to try to do the same come January.

But just because I’ve essentially given up on the defense doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the season. Yeah, Saturday was a little discouraging. It reminded me a lot of when the Tigers went Ames, Iowa a couple years ago and handed Iowa State their only conference win of the season.

Both times the Tigers failed to put their opponent away when they had the chance. The only difference? In '06 the Tigers played like crap and lost. This time around they played like crap and found a way to win.

All this defense has to do is play well enough to win the next three games against inferior Big 12 North teams and then play over its head for 60 minutes in the Big 12 championship. Then we’ll be talking about the best season in school history. Stranger things have happened.