Mizzou 25: Larry Smith Regional (Semifinal #1)

UPDATE: Called after 74 votes.  Brad wins it, 89%-10%.

One round is in the books for Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years!

Mizzou 25 is set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Harold "Spider" Burke Region (fan favorites).  To see where the bracket currently stands, click here.

Today, we tackle the Larry Smith Regional.

3/17: William Moore vs Brad Smith
3/18: Martin Rucker vs Chase Daniel

Whereas all of the Norm Stewart Regional Semifinalists were from the late-'80s and early-'90s, three of the four Larry Smith Semifinalists played on Mizzou's 2007 football team.

William Moore vs Brad Smith

vs

2005-08

2002-05

Stats
  1. 30 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD, 1 FF
  1. 51 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD, 1 FR, 1.5 tackles for loss
  1. 117 tackles, 8 INTs, 1 TD, 2 FF, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks

Record: 27-12
Bowl Wins: 2

Stats
  1. 2333 passing yards, 1029 rushing yards, 22 total TDs
  1. 1822 passing yards, 1310 rushing yards, 28 total TDs
  1. 2185 passing yards, 553 rushing yards, 24 total TDs
  1. 2304 passing yards, 1301 rushing yards, 29 total TDs

Record: 25-23
Bowl Wins: 1

The Boy: William Moore hits as hard as Demontie Cross and has a nose for the ball like Roger Wherli.  He raps like he’s a member of Three 6 Mafia.  He drives around what looks like a pimped out, black & gold Ford Taurus.  He lives and breathes Mizzou, and he might end his career as the best safety to ever play at Mizzou.

Few pick their moments like Willy Mo.

^ As a backup safety in 2005, he made his first splash against Iowa State by picking off a Bret Meyer pass and taking it to the house in a game that Mizzou ultimately won in overtime.

^ Seeing Xzavie Jackson score on a pick six against Texas Tech in 2006, he decided it looked pretty fun and yanked the next Graham Harrell pass out of the arms of the intended Red Raider receiver and, again, took it to the house.

^ When Mizzou needed a tone-setter in front of 70K against Nebraska in 2007, it was Willy Mo who absolutely obliterated Marlon Lucky on a swing pass.

^ When Pig Brown went down for the season and Mizzou needed someone to pick up the slack, there Moore was, crushing and picking off Cody Hawkins.

^ And picking off Stephen McGee.

^ And Josh Freeman.

^ At Arrowhead, when KU finally got some offensive momentum going and tried for the homerun ball, Moore picked it off.

^ In the Cotton Bowl, when Felix Jones broke a long gain into Mizzou territory, Moore stripped him of the ball.  And then ended the season with another pick six.

The best part of all?  He's decided to come back for an encore in 2008.
The Boy: I'm going to steal The Beef's line here--nobody had a more enigmatic career than Brad Smith.  When he came to Mizzou, only one QB had ever pulled of a 2000/1000 (passing/rushing yards) season.  He averaged one for his career.  If I attend Mizzou games for the next 50 years, #16 will still end up with probably 4-6 of the Top 10 most amazing plays I've ever seen.  He would slow up as he was heading out of bounds, and as the defender slowed up as well, he'd tiptoe right by them.  He would effortlessly juke out two guys converging on him from two different directions.  He was the first Mizzou QB to beat Nebraska in 25 years, and he did it twice.  He's Mizzou's career rushing leader, and oh yeah, he passed for 8600 yards as well.  Plus, the profile he earned for Mizzou over his four years was the best recruiting tool this staff had from 2003 to 2006.

And yet...Mizzou's success with him was limited.  The more teams saw him, the more they figured out how to stop him.  Whether the fault of the Mizzou coaching staff or Brad's own limitations, when it was time for Brad to become more threatening with his arm to break out of the containment teams were putting on his feet, it didn't happen.  The first two years of his career, Mizzou went 13-12.  The last two, they went 12-11.

In the 2005 Independence Bowl, however, Smith unleashed his best, most inspiring half of football, and in the process, he possibly saved the Pinkel era and set Mizzou on the course down which they're travelling today.  Down 28-7 to South Carolina late in the first half, Brad used his arm to move Mizzou down for a TD, cutting the score to an attainable 28-14 at halftime.  And then he used his feet to complete the comeback.  His 59-yard run late in the fourth quarter set up the go-ahead TD (scored by him, of course) in a 38-31 win.  You simply cannot underestimate this moment when considering the trajectory of the Mizzou program.  You just cannot.

And while we're on the YouTube kick...we'll pit Willy Mo's Cotton Bowl versus Brad's Independence Bowl.

2008 Cotton Bowl

2005 Independence Bowl

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