Mizzou QB James Franklin is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against UK, making Joker Phillips dance with glee.
No game reeks of desperation more than a matchup between a pair of teams winless halfway through their conference schedule. That’s the type of game that will go down Saturday at noon in Columbia, Missouri between the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers. Let’s take a look at SEC Virgin Mizzou, who had their conference cherry popped in vulgar fashion, playing Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama in the season’s first half.
How Mizzou got to 3-4 (0-4)
SE Louisiana: W, 52-10: Thorough shellacking, as expected, in every phase over the FCS program.
Georgia: L, 41-20: Led late in the 3rd quarter before the wheels fell off with two 4th quarter turnovers.
Arizona State: W, 24-20: Despite backup QB making his first career start, Mizzou hangs on w/2 late goal line stands.
at South Carolina: L, 31-10: 1st road test was a beat down, as ***** D and special teams allows SC to cruise.
at Central Florida: W, 21-16: Long punt return TD keys Mizzou rally, and D holds late over C-USA favorite
Vanderbilt: L, 19-15: After two promising drives to start game, starting QB Franklin leaves with injury and offense can’t rally
Alabama: L, 42-10: Another victim of the Tide’s early season freight train. Only TD was a kickoff return.
DT Sheldon Richardson is strait beast, leading the Tigers in tackles despite being a defensive lineman.
Where Mizzou is Best
The Tiger defense has been solid all season long, especially considering the pressure that has been put on from an offense that has been inconsistent at best. Junior DT Sheldon Richardson is a beast in the trenches, leading the team in tackles, sacks, and tied for the team lead in TFL. The rest of the D-line has been solid in its own right, with three of the team’s defensive ends having at least three sacks and playing the run well against some good running teams.
An experienced linebacking corps rounds out a stout Mizzou front seven, as senior MLB Will Ebner is second on the team in tackles, and junior OLB Andrew Wilson has already forced four fumbles. Zaviar Gooden, the team’s other OLB, was preseason all-conference, but has been limited by injury. He should be in action, however, on Saturday. Junior cornerback EJ Gaines was a preseason all-conference selection, and has played up to the expectations. Gaines and senior Kip Edwards form a solid corner tandem.
After missing last year with injury, sophomore return man extraordinaire Marcus Murphy has already taken four kicks to the house in 2012. Look for him to try and get loose on the Cats’ punt team.
LT Elvis Fisher was supposed to be a bookend on the Tiger O-line, but injuries have derailed his final season. He will play, and hopes the bye week was kind to his bum knee.
Where Mizzou is Worst
The offensive line has been a revolving door thus far in 2012, and it has showed with an offense that has been somewhere between inept and inconsistent. The Tigers have started different O-line combinations in five of their six games, and the biggest facet that has suffered is pass protection. As impressive as the defense’s 17 sacks have been, they have also allowed 17.
Probably not coincidentally, Mizzou starting QB James Franklin has missed two whole games and most of a third due to injury. He’s doubtful to play this weekend after spraining his MCL against Vandy three weeks ago. Backup QB Corbin Berkstresser is a redshirt freshman who doesn’t have the mobility or experience of Franklin, and the offense has taken a step back with him on the field. His completion percentage is less than 50%, but we’ll see if the bye week has allowed the Tigers to put in a game plan that is more to his liking.
Other than Murphy’s explosive returns, special teams have also been a nightmare. Kicker Andrew Baggett has missed four field goals, and the punt unit has seen two blocked punts and a dropped snap for a safety. Big returns have also been a thorn in Mizzou’s side, an issue that has been magnified by the fact they haven’t consistently had touchbacks on kickoffs.
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