With a day to reflect, I wanted to take a minute and review some elements of yesterday's game that I found interesting.
Coach Clawson talked about a turning point in his post game presser, and I think he nailed it exactly. It is important to re-construct that exact moment, because it gives a clear idea of just how in control of that game we were.
Bowling Green had taken the second half kick 73 yards in 11 plays (over 5:00) and scored a TD to go up 20-6. Then, (and I had forgotten this) we got a stop on a 3-and out. We get the ball back with a 14 point lead and about 8 left in the third. We converted a third and long and then Willie Geter ran the ball into Mizzou territory, where it was second and one from their 49.
At this point, you gotta feel like we are driving again. We held them on defense, and if we can score again, we're going to be in pretty good shape. Instead, we get a chop block penalty, and have to punt. From that point on, everything changed.
Missouri had nine first downs prior to that. They had 12 coming home. Of course, they had no touchdowns and they got three.
Things changed on our offensive end, too. The first down mentioned above was our 13th. We would get only five more for the remainder of the game. We did not score again, nor cross into Missouri territory.
Of course, that penalty didn't cause all that to happen. It is just interesting in the game of football how quickly things can change. And while our defense was clearly worn down, it is important to remember that our offense had the chance to close the game out too, and didn't do it.
Within that 23 minute slide, there were a couple of moments that were particularly difficult. When Missouri had tied the game, we were driving to try and get back up the field, and were at our 40. On 3-7, Tyler was sacked for an 18 yards loss, which meant that instead of punting from our 40 and probably putting them inside the 20, we punting from our 22 and they started at their 39.
The other was when BG decided to punt on 4-10 after a false start penalty. (We had looked like we were going to go.) We were on 41, and our normally reliable punted shanked it and only made a 19 yard net. That allowed Missouri to run their plays and punt us back to our 16. If we get our normal punt and then hold them, maybe we're starting from the 36, which allows a much different approach to driving the length of the field with no timeouts.
It was not a great offensive game for anybody. Both teams averaged under five yards per play. BG was clearly running a conservative passing attack. Tyler completed just over 60% of his passes, but had only 4.5 yards per attempt. This is pretty low even by last year's standards. Since I didn't see the game, I don't know if there were plays downfield that we didn't take, if our guys couldn't get open deep, or if we were careful because we concerned about pass rush.
A few other points:
- We had 8 penalties, which is too many in a game like this.
- Willie Geter had a nice stat line. 20 carries for 99 yards, and 5 catches for 24. (I do think the coaching staff is being careful about giving Willie too many carries, given his injury history).
- Jerry Phillips nailed 2 FG's inside 40, and if he is merely automatic from that distance, then that is a contribution.
- I think an indication of our defensive play is that three of our top five tacklers were NOT defensive backs. Angelo Magnone had eight stops, which is pretty good given the size of the Missouri line.
- Cody Basler is a very solid MLB for us. His sack and forced fumble was a huge play in the first half.
- Of course, we didn't get eight hurries as we did against Troy.
- Chris Wright had 7 grabs and Hutson 5 filling in for Ty Pronty.
As I said last night, there are lots of positives from this game. I know there are no moral victories (blah blah) but we played really well on the road against a good team. We moved the ball, played strong defense, and had reasonable special teams play. I was pleased with the effort on Saturday and I look forward to seeing more out of this team. We are far more capable, especially on defense, than we were last season.
And if we had won last night, it wouldnt have meant a thing when we played (for example) OU. We lost, and it won't mean a thing to anybody as we work through the MAC schedule.
Here are a couple notes from Missouri just to indicate, in context, how we did last night.
From the Missouri game summary....
Bowling Green (1-1) was such a handful seldom-used Missouri punter Jake Harry was called upon seven times. Harry punted only 26 times all last season.
And from a Missouri poster on AZZ.com
Not only that...aside from the two losses you mentioned, in the last 3 seasons Mizzou's average margin of victory at home has been 26.5 points. Nobody came closer than within 14 points of them (twice, in 07). 6 times they won by over 40 points. 13 of their 17 games were won by more than 3 TDs. So for you guys to play us within 1 touchdown is a hell of a feat.That's: -28 points closer than the last game Nebraska played here.-51 points closer than the last game Colorado played here.-24 points closer than the last game Texas Tech played here.-20 points closer than the last game Ole Miss played here.-20 points closer than the last game kansas played here (in Columbia).