Monday Musings - Was This the Pinnacle?

So I am going to pose this question to open my musings and I hope to generate some discussion off of it.  And it likely does a disservice to the point of this weekly post, which is to touch upon ALL Mizzou action from the week that was.  But, here's the question, and it can be answered whether you were at the game in person or dry at home in front of your television.

Tell me what you saw.

Plain and simple.  Describe what you saw in that game from Mizzou, specifically as it pertains to the offensive production.  I am having trouble putting it into words or even feelings, and I want to hear from people smarter than me about what they (you) saw and how they (you) internalized it.

Anyway...more on this to come in my football review, plus all the rest of the stuff and I am sure plenty of random thoughts as the college football season...my favorite of all the sports seasons, really picked up a bit as it hit week 3.

Football:

I suppose I will actuall start with the defense and get it out of the way first.  I am having a tough time being nearly as down on the defense right now as some of our fans.  I have even read thoughts from some who believe we could still win a national title DESPITE our defense.  While I agree we could win a national title potentially, I do not believe it would come despite the performance of the group.

To qualify my thoughts, I do hold Nevada's offense in fairly high regard.  They were the 11th most proficient last season even though that only got them 6-6 and a bowl loss.  I think their QB (and for the sake of time and spelling, I will simply refer to him as CK) is a unique talent and came away very impressed by him as well.

I said it back on the pod cast #1.  Mizzou would give up some bad drives and bad TD's...at least that is how many of our fans would perceive it.  Clearly the half-ending pass was a breakdown, I dont think anyone would dispute that.  However, in the end, Nevada gained 360+ yards, almost 200 yards under their previous average.  It got me to thinking, especially after we came away with a 2nd half shutout and only allowed 1 TD and 1 FG on two sustained drives.

Last season, we played W. Michigan in week 3.  A WMU team which would go on to finish 5-7 and 57th overall in yards per game.  We gave up 372 yards to them, and then just south of 400 against Illinois State the following week.  Willy Mo has probably been off the field just as much as he has been on it (and we can and have already talked about how some of us do not feel his new presence so close to the line is all that effective) and Van Alexander seems to JUST now be rounding back into health. 

Is the defense where I want it or where it needs to be?  No...but I also do not believe it is so disappointing that it may still hold us back in a game any time really soon.  I urge our fans to continue to be a little patient and allow the tinkering to continue.  Considering the amount of new people the group has been throwing out there, I still believe the #1 unit has had the chance to really get that trust and rhythm going.  I do believe it will come in plenty of time.

Alright...so on to the offense, which is currently #1 in the country in yards per game and points per game.  As I sat/stood there at Faurot on Saturday, I really could not help but be a little...well...it is not sad, but just a little off.  My (our) team was playing offensive football at such a level to where I really do not believe football was intended to be played.  The game at its most simplistic level is about offense vs. defense and the way we are playing offense right now, well...I refuse to believe it is how anyone really thought the game could be played. One team I was very into was the 1994-1995 undefeated Penn State team and their very prolific offense.  There is not a person on that Penn State team I would take right now at a skill position over anyone on Mizzou with the small potential exception of the 1994 version of Ki-Jana Carter over Washington, though it is too early to tell for sure.

Don't get me wrong, I am not crying for our opponents here about us being unfairly good.  I just have not yet been able to wrap my head around and APPRECIATE what I am seeing.  Football is an experience for me...game day, tailgating, friends, sites, sounds, all of the above.  My feeling almost down revolves around the fact I am having trouble appreciating what is likely to be the most amazing offense I will ever get the privilege of seeing.

Anyway...we play Buffalo next week...good for them on the win over Temple on the Hail Gill.

And to the people sitting with us and around us...perhaps the funniest thing I can remember....

#20 on the field late in the game was named "Rudy" by us since we had no earthly idea who it was.  Turns out, it was Erik Rudin...so...um....yeah....it was.

Soccer:

A home weekend for the Tigers as they took to the pitch on Friday night against an unbeaten Vanderbilt, and promptly sent them back to Nashville with their first loss of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Mizzou.  A scoreless first half gave way to the Tigers finally getting to the board thanks to the 2nd goal of the season from sophomore Alysha Bonnick in the 59th minute.  Bonnick (who has made it back to the starting lineup) took an assist from Bree Thorton to put the Tigers up.  Mizzou would tack on another goal 20 minutes later as junior Meghan Pfeiffer would notch her first tally of the season thanks to Mo Redmond.  Added insurance came only six minutes later, as freshman Mallory Stipetech would score her first career goal in the 85th minute thanks to an assist from Pfeiffer.

Mizzou would return on Sunday to take on 3-3 Butler.  Then the game would be pushed back twice actually and finally be kicked off at 6:00 p.m., so credit really to the young women from Butler who will have had to travel home rather late.  Anyway, Mizzou dominated the first half of action with 13 shots, 8 on goal with 5 corner kicks, but it would be the 12th shot of the half that would finally get the Tigers on the board as Lindsay McCoy would score in the 44th minute.  And then...18 seconds later, just 29 seconds before the half would end, Butler tied it right back up at 1-1.  On to the 2nd half, Mizzou kept the pressure on but could not get the next goal until Mo Redmond struck for the Tigers in the 83rd minute to give the Tigers a weekend sweep and a 2-1 win over Butler.

Mizzou will finish their non-conference season next weekend with one remaining home game (in OOC) against Iowa on Friday night.  They will move on to conference play after that starting up in Ames on the 26th.

Volleyball:

Mizzou finished up their out of conference/road schedule by travelling out to Reno, NV to take on the host school and a couple of California schools.  The Tigers fell to the home Wolfpack on Friday night 3-1, as the Tigers fell in two close sets to start, then hit .515 in the third before falling hard in the 4th.  For the match, the Tigers actually outhit the Pack by a small margin (.215 to .207), but service errors seems to be the biggest hinderance.  All in all, the Pack were +8 in points scored, and were +7 in serving (10 aces to 8 errors = +2 vs. 6 aces to 11 errors = -5 for Mizzou).  I dont really know if you can use numbers like that, but I figured I would give it a shot.

Coming back on Saturday for two matches, the Tigers lost fairly quickly to #24 Pepperdine in straight sets of 15, 23 and 13.  The Tigers did not hit well at all, probably their worst match of the season as they could only get .069 on the morning.  Wendy Wang had nine kills to lead Mizzou, but on only .121.  That actually pushed the Tigers back to .500 on the season at 4-4 heading into their afternoon contest vs. UC-Davis, but they finished very strong to win in straight sets of 17, 28-26 and 15.  Mizzou hit over .300 for the match, being led in kills by Juliana Klein with 11 and Amanda Hantouli with 10, both hitting over .400.  The service errors were reduced and the team had 11 team blocks to put forth a better, more complete effort.

The Tigers will now head into conference play sitting 5-4, but will still start on the road against OU, who is currently 5-4 as well and who does own an early season win in conference against Texas Tech.  The Tigers will FINALLY play within the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center this coming weekend against 8-2 Baylor on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.  If you are still around after the football game, check out of your hotel, get some Shakespeare's pizza for brunch and head over to the Hearnes.

Cross-Country:

The Tigers ran at home this past weekend at the 2008 Missouri Cross Country Challenge, with both the men and the women taking wins against several teams, most noticeably kansas (though no border war points are awarded here).  The women took six of the top nine spots, with sophomore Kinsey Farren taking 2nd place.  The lady Tigers had the youth movement going on, as their top six were comprised of two freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and one senior.  Next up for the ladies will be a trip up to Chicago in two weekends to run the Loyola-Chicago Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational.

For the men, they too defeated kansas, though they needed to work a little harder to do so.  However, they did win the race, as Michael Pandolpho (who is redshirting this season for Mizzou after transfering from Creighton) took 1st for the Tigers...except not really.  Since he is redshirt, Pandolpho ran unattached and his place did not count for Mizzou.  Instead, Mizzou would take three of the next four positions, with RS senior Michael Barrows finishing 2nd (but getting 1st place points) and two sophomores in Phillip King and Dan Quigley taking 3rd and 5th respectively.  Tiger standout Dan Hedgecock and team leader Tim Cornell did not run, giving the Tigers a nice glimpse of some of the youthful depth they are trying to culivate.  They will next take to the course up in Minnesota at the Roy Griak Invitational in two weeks.

Men's Golf:

The men's team competed this past weekend on what had to be (at times) a very wet track in Indianapolis, IN at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate.  Mizzou finished the three rounds on Sunday in 9th place, but a tough 3rd round hurt them as they were in 6th place after two rounds and only two shots out of third.  Tough rounds though by sophomores Will Hogan, William Harrold and Tyler Hillis (the H's from now on I guess) knocked the Tigers back into the 9th spot.

Two highlights from the weekend however for the team would be the 3rd round of acclaimed freshman Jace Long and the entire weekend of senior Peter Malnati.  Long, who did improve each round last time out for the Tigers, did the same this weekend after carding rounds of 79 and 77.  On Sunday, he would go low and shoot just one over for a 72 to end up finishing second of the Tigers.  Malnati was in the hunt all tournament, finishing in 2nd place after firing a final round 71 to finish one over for the tournament. 

Next up for the Tigers will be action at the Wolverine Invitational next Saturday and Sunday up in Ann Arbor, MI

Random Thoughts:

  • This week I am impressed (in the college world) by: USC, Penn State, OU, geez...you'd think there would be more of these.  I guess I can throw in the hit the Maryland DB which made the Cal WR actually puke on the field.  USC looked scary good again...I guess everyone will just wonder if they can keep their heads on straight for the duration.
  • This week I am NOT impressed by: Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, the rest of the Pac 10 (especially the AZ schools) and SEC football from this past weekend.
  • My house and yard are at critical mass here with the amount of rain we have received in the St. Louis metro area.
  • TOTALLY forgot the Ryder Cup was next weekend...you think most of the country is in the same boat?
  • God I wish I did not have to watch the Rams on Sundays.  Thankfully, I am guessing this is the only home game I will be subjected to, as the NFL black-out rules (and Rams fans) should bail me out nicely considering how terrible the team is.  I so look forward to 2011 when they aren't here anymore.
  • Moore of the Rams and Gostkoswki of the Patriots have RIDICULOUS legs.  The 63 yard punt and 83 yard kickoff stood out just a little.
  • Solid enough start to the Race for the Chase for Carl Edwards.  Started the race 2nd (in points and position) and finished 3rd to move him into a tie for the lead after the first of ten races.
  • I now have a small inkling of what it must have been like for Green Bay fans the past couple of years.  Maddening at times, amazing at times.
  • San Diego...I am SO sorry for you.  Yes, you still could have made the plays...but that game was flat....stolen from you.  Replay not working earlier in the game?  "Guns" Hochuli blows a call?
  • Mets won one game of three against Atlanta and had the bullpen blow the other two.  Some decent stories taking shape in MLB in the final two weeks.
  • And finally...since I think I am at a record number of thoughts, it was nostalgic to see Olberman/Patrick on NBC before the Sunday night game.
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