By Ryan Williams
A week ago, the Tigers managed a victory against the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks in their season opener despite a plethora of injuries on both sides of the ball. Mizzou did not look as solid as they usually are against non-conference play, but they found a way to extend their win streak to 23 vs. non-conference opponents and get James Franklin his first career win as a Tiger. The Tigers’ pass defense came through holding the Redhawks to less than 200 yards passing and cornerback E.J. Gaines had a clutch interception in the red zone to save a touchdown.
Coming into Friday’s game the Tigers knew they would have their work cut out for them, but the Arizona State offensive attack was just too strong for the young secondary of the Tigers. The Tigers lost in overtime, 37-30.
Quarterback Brock Osweiler seemed unstoppable both in and out of the pocket, and Missouri’s defense could not get a handle on him. He passed for 353 yards and threw for three touchdowns while also running for more than 30 yards and a touchdown.
Early in the game Osweiler was able to get the ball down field with ease and the Sun Devils scored on three of five first half possessions. The other two possessions resulted in a missed goal and a punt.
The Tigers cornerbacks just couldn’t seem to be able to guard Aaron Pflugrad who torched the Tigers’ secondary with eight catches for 180 yards. By the second half, Mizzou found a way to contain the Sun Devil offense, allowing only two second-half scores, one coming off a Mizzou turnover on downs in their own territory. This might speak to the Tigers decision to go to a 3-4 defense with three defensive lineman and four linebackers instead of their normal 4-3 defense.
Defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton put into words, as best as he could, what happened against the Sun Devils.
“I can’t tell you what it was, but I can tell you we played horrible defense,” Hamilton said. “We played bad.”
Mizzou played fantastic defense a week ago. The Tigers only allowed three pass plays of 15 yards or more to Miami (Ohio). They allowed that same amount in just the first quarter to the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils had a total of nine pass plays for 15 or more yards.
Mizzou’s secondary still has to face the quarterback talent Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma) on the road, and Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) at home. All, but Tannehill have already thrown for 300 or more yards this year. The only Tiger starter in the secondary with significant starting experience is safety Kenji Jackson. Safety Matt White and defensive backs E.J. Gaines and Robert Steeples all have one or two starts on their resumes. Mizzou’s secondary only has about one game to figure things out and that will be September 17 at home against Western Illinois. The next game—against Oklahoma in Norman—kicks off Big 12 play.