Mizzou Destroys Western Illinois: Links and Reflections

Recaps

MUtigers.com: Tigers Overpower Western Illinois, 69-0
The Trib: Josey, Tigers run wild on Leathernecks
KC Star: MU crushes Western Illinois 69-0
PowerMizzou: No doubt about it
PowerMizzou: Sunday grade card
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou runs wild in 69-0 win

First Downs: Mizzou 30, WIU 1
Total Yards: Mizzou 744, WIU 44
Rushing Yards (not inc. sacks): Mizzou 436, WIU 51
Passing Yards (inc. sacks): Mizzou 308, WIU -7
Yards Per Play: Mizzou 9.1, WIU 1.0
Yardage For Leading Rusher: Mizzou 263, WIU 28
Yardage For Leading Receiver: Mizzou 68, WIU 12
Rushing Yards: Jimmy Costello 29, WIU's Leading Rusher 28
Fantasy Football Points: Grant Ressel 15
Second Half Yardage: Mizzou 293, WIU 1

I mean ... what do you say here? For once, I think the stats tell the complete story. There is no context needed, no clarification, no "Yeah, but..." Mizzou outgained Western Illinois by 401 yards in the first half, then, with almost no starters playing more than a series or two, outgained them by 292 in the second. They basically had to strap Henry Josey to the bench and give him not a single second-half carry for fear that he would break Mizzou's single-game rushing record; honestly, it would have felt like cheating if that happened, you know? Thirty Tigers made a tackle, 20 more touched the ball on offense, and everybody on the first-, second- and third-string saw significant playing time. This is what you're hoping for when you play a guarantee game against an FCS opponent. It's just never quite been like this before.

I have two pieces of constructive criticism, however:

1) James Franklin needs to learn what passes he cannot throw on the run. Twice, while rolling to his right, he attempted a Gabbert-esque sling deep downfield. Neither pass had any arc, and both could have been picked off. Luckily, Eric Waters played some wonderful defense in breaking up the first near-pick, and somehow L'Damian Washington came back five yards to not only break up a pick in the second one, but actually grab onto and secure the ball for a 30-yard gain as well. Franklin's passing line was 18-for-25 for 246 yards and 3 TDs. It could have very easily been 17-for-25 for 216 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. That doesn't look nearly as good.

2) Penalties, penalties, penalties. Granted, a large portion of Mizzou's nine penalties were committed by scrubs in the second half. Still, they managed to match their season average. Mizzou has now committed 29 penalties in three games, a 9.67-per-game average. Last year, they averaged 6.1. The year before that: 5.3. I think if we investigated those seasons, we'd find that the average was higher at the beginning of the season than later on (remember all those holding penalties early in the 2009 campaign?), but still, Mizzou needs to cut that out as quickly as possible.

For the record, here were the culprits: Mark Hill (2 for 15), Austin Wuebbels (1 for 15), Trey Hobson (1 for 10), Justin Britt (1 for 5), L'Damian Washington (1 for 5), Wes Kemp (1 for 5), Jimmie Hunt (1 for 5), Brandon Gerau (1 for 5). Four on the offensive line, and strangely, four on the receiving corps (two false starts, two substitution infractions, including the one in which Hunt lined up in formation as the 12th guy on the field).

Multimedia

PowerMizzou: PHOTOS: The sideline view
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Pinkel talks win
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: High-scoring highlights

Henry Josey Is Good

The Missourian: Henry Josey runs wild in Missouri football win over Western Illinois

For the record, here is the yardage of each of Henry Josey's carries: 5, 7, 8, 14, 33, 6TD, 21TD, 35, 15, 6, 16, 19, 10, 68. What the heck was up with those first three, huh? Totally killed the per-carry average.

Henry Josey is the quintessential stat-padder. In two games versus FCS competition, he now has 21 carries for 375 yards and six touchdowns. That's absurd. That's also 17.9 yards per carry.

(That's also a sign that he should have maybe signed with an FCS school, where he would have been a runaway Payton Award winner, huh?)

Of course, it didn't stop with Josey. Jared Culver also gave us a bit of reassurance that Mizzou isn't completely bereft of second-stringers in Kendial Lawrence's and De'vion Moore's respective absences. He looks so much like Zack Abron that it is almost off-putting, but his running style is a bit different. He doesn't seek out contact (and dish out punishment) like Abron so entertainingly did, but he also has a bit more burst. His 60-yarder to start the second half saw him get hemmed in toward the sideline, then jolt ahead with a sliver of a seam, stiff-arming one defender and just barely getting tripped up while trying to stiff-arm another. He runs like a 200-pounder who happens to be 250 pounds. And yes, I realize he and Josey may struggle just a hair to reach the same level of success next week in Norman. That's a disclaimer that goes with this entire post. Western Illinois was lifeless in every possible way, and these stats should be taken not with a grain of salt, but with an entire box. But again, Mizzou has whipped lifeless FCS opponents before ... but never like this.

Nice Defense

The Missourian: Missouri football defensive ends bounce back against Western Illinois
The Trib: Tigers’ stout defense posts some jaw-dropping stats in shutout win

We talk about offenses putting up "video game numbers" a lot, but ... Mizzou's defense almost did the same yesterday. It was actually jarring when, on WIU's fifth drive of the half, they broke consecutive runs of seven, nine and six yards. There were some instinctive murmurs from the crowd, which was funny. Of course, that was incredibly one of only two full WIU drives that didn't end in three-and-outs. The other one: a first-play interception by Robert Steeples.

Mizzou showed last week that an offense that can match them in athleticism, can potentially move the ball against them. WIU was simply overwhelmed athletically, however, and never stood a chance.

Is There A Big Game Next Week?

PowerMizzou: Eyes on Oklahoma
KBIA Sports Extra: Mizzou looks toward Oklahoma after record-setting night

By Saturday morning, I'm sure I'll have talked myself into Mizzou having a chance in Norman next weekend. It always happens. But for now, my expectations are null. Odds are very good that Mizzou will head into their bye week at 2-2, but as long as they continue to get better -- and if there's anything we can conclude for sure at this point, it's that they got better between Weeks 1 and 2, and better between Weeks 2 and 3 -- I'll live with that. The most important stretch of this season happens after the OU game and resulting bye week. The games against Kansas State (in Manhattan), Iowa State and Oklahoma State will define the season no matter what happens in Norman, so let's hope we can say that the Tigers are both healthy and improving by leaps and bounds heading toward October 8.

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