Mizzou 33, Kentucky 10: Links and Reflections

Dak Dillon-US PRESSWIRE

James Franklin steadies the ship, DGB gets involved, Andrew Baggett's got a leg, and Dave Steckel forces Plan B.

Recaps

Franklin Comes Alive

  • MUtigers.com: Mizzou/Kentucky Post-Game Quotes

    On replacing Corbin Berkstresser with James Franklin in the second half:
    "We needed a play. With great restriction, we got the OK from the medical staff. Corbin (Berkstresser) was struggling. He's not the first quarterback to ever struggle at all and won't be the last. I got on the phone with Coach Yost, and we talked about it in our Thursday staff meeting that if we got in that situation that we would most likely put James in and let him know the series before we would do it. We also were very, very controlled in what we had in the run and the pass. And then we decided to just keep him in even though the score was the way it was just to get some reps and get some confidence back. I think any time you get a veteran player that comes in, who was the MVP of the bowl last year and had great success as a sophomore and plays the position and knows it well, I think that gives our offense a little bit of a lift. It's natural. It's nothing against Corbin (Berkstresser), it's just natural."

  • The Trib: Franklin returns as Tigers collect first SEC win
  • The Missourian: Franklin helps Missouri in first SEC win
  • Post-Dispatch: Franklin spurs Tigers offense
  • PowerMizzou: Franklin brings comfort in win
  • Fox Sports MW: Franklin's surprise return gives Mizzou a lift
  • KBIA Sports: Missouri quarterback James Franklin helps Missouri earn first SEC win

Obviously the Missouri defense played the largest role in yesterday's win -- when you allow 64 yards in your opponent's final 12 drives, you are probably not going to lose, especially when you throw in a defensive touchdown and two turnovers that set up your offense at the opponent's 12 and 25 -- but it is difficult to question the fact that when James Franklin came into the game, everybody calmed down. It was like hitting the reset button: the running game began to settle in again, and David Yost had no choice but to simplify in his play-calling. Corbin Berkstresser, a pass-first quarterback, had lost the plot (and by "the plot," I mean "any semblance of footwork and accuracy"), and it seemed to affecting everything. Only one of Kendial Lawrence's last six carries (pre-Franklin) had gone for more than three yards, and he was beginning to show his early-2011 form again (cutting horizontally instead of heading upfield). Franklin was not asked to do much, and Mizzou's offense was certainly predictable with him in the game, but the rest did its job. Mizzou's next nine carries went for 47 yards, and Mizzou was able to stretch a seven-point lead to 16.

It goes without saying that James Franklin will be asked to do more next week -- if he isn't, Mizzou is going to average about 1.0 yards per play in Gainesville; but on about 1.5 legs, he gave the Tigers exactly what they needed yesterday.

Winning Feels Good

Sheldon Just Went Up Another 5 Spots In Mel Kiper's Rankings

God, that strip-and-run was awesome.

DGB, The Fourth Running Back

On Corbin Berkstresser's first pass of the game, he threw a perfect strike to a wide-open Marcus Lucas downfield. Depending on the running lane he chose, Lucas would have probably gained anywhere between 20 and 72 yards. It was the easiest, most open pass Lucas has seen in about a month ... and he dropped it. Whatever the football terms for Steve Blass Disease is, Lucas has it. It's in his head something awful. Lucas was only targeted twice the rest of the way, and he didn't have a chance on either pass; one was almost picked off (to his credit, I think Lucas had a role in breaking up the INT), and one was high and out of bounds. Meanwhile, Corbin Berkstresser was consistently missing T.J. Moe. With a dominant defense, Mizzou didn't need much from its passing game, but it was geting nothing. So Dorial Green-Beckham got a shot. He caught two short passes along the sidelines on Mizzou's late-second quarter touchdown drive, and with Mizzou up 16 in the fourth quarter, he caught four bubble screens from James Franklin in six plays.

If you told me a receiver had caught seven passes for 25 yards, my first three guesses would have been Gahn McGaffie, Gahn McGaffie and Gahn McGaffie. He had six for 31 before catching an atrocious pass from Franklin for a loss, but regardless, DGB's performance wasn't about statistics. It was about involvement. Mizzou elected to throw short, easy passes to its most high-ceiling athlete with room to run. This is what the spread is all about. Now, the blocking on DGB's screens was somewhere between mediocre and awful (which probably illustrated why Mizzou hasn't thrown a lot of those passes), but it was something.

Kendial God Lawrence, The Steady Force

Good Snap, Good Hold, Good Kick

In the last two games, Andrew Baggett has made field goals of 31, 41 and 44 yards. In his last five games, Baggett is 6-for-6 on field goals. When the snap and hold are good, it turns out that Baggett has a pretty impressive leg. Now, in pure 2012 fashion, it was two steps forward and one step back (Kentucky blew up Mizzou's line and blocked a PAT in the fourth quarter), but that's still a net gain. Baggett added three touchbacks in seven kicks, and six of seven kicks resulted in Kentucky starting at its 25 or worse. That's pretty damn good.

The Other Side

I hinted at it yesterday, but I was really, really impressed with Kentucky's offensive script. The play-calling on the Wildcats' first two drives was absolutely perfect. Some Mizzou missed tackles certainly helped the cause, but Kentucky consistently had Mizzou off-balance and were consistently finding a numbers advantage. The problem, of course, was that Kentucky just doesn't have the horses. On the first play of the game, Jalen Whitlow threw a quick sideline pass to Demarco Robinson with a clear numbers advantage: it was Robinson and a blocker versus one Missouri defensive back. With one good move and a burst of speed, the play could have gone for a long, long way. It went for nine yards. Regardless, the plays were well-crafted and advanced Kentucky inside the Missouri 15 twice.

But here's the thing about Dave Steckel's defense: what works at the beginning of the game simply isn't going to work for long. Think back to the UCF game, for instance. UCF was gashing Mizzou on the ground over the first 20-25 minutes. And then the final 30-35 minutes got them almost nothing. If you can stay one step ahead of the Missouri defense, you can find success. But you better have a Plan B because Plan A isn't going to work for too long. For Kentucky, it worked for two drives.

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