What a game. In what was a sudden turn of event (for us the fans), the team all of a sudden went from facing a team with a pretty good chance, despite injuries, to win against a tough team to facing a pretty good team with its back up QB and doubts about the starters health in question. But thanks to a solid performance by Berks and a stellar effort from the defense, MU got a win. If the outcome had been a loss, the outlook of the season, and the narrative for the entire season would have altered from "chance to win the East and/or compete" to "way over our heads/get bowl eligible by any means". Luckily for us, we are now above .500 and ready to head off to the other Columbia for our first road test.
This weeks breakdown is going to focus mostly on the defense. Admittedly, my ability to decipher defensive schemes is less so than offensive schemes. So I'm not going to be able to tell exactly what plays were called, the exact coverage, and so on. I also did not do every single play in both defensive stands, the camera angles hardly showed half the plays, but we are lucky enough to get some alternate views of some really awesome plays, so I will be highlighting those.
But let's start with a little primer.
MU's main defense is the 4-3-4, four down lineman, 3 linebackers, and 4 secondary players. Mizzou has their own terminology, but I'm going to stick to mine so that I can keep it all straight.
4 DL- Strong DE, Tackle, Tackle, Weak DE. I know that MU breaks up the tackles as Tackle and Nose guard, but really, for this, we aren't going to in depth with the DL, so that distinction is not important.
3 LB- Strong, Middle, Weak. Pretty standard. For brevity, Sam, Mike, Will
4 Secondary- CB, Strong, Free, CB
Alright, terminology down, let's begin!
Play One: Kony Ealy.....Drinks.....Your......Milkshake!!
Our first play occured during the first goal line stand by the defense at the end of the game. After a nifty pass play to 32, and BEAUTIFUL tackle by Ebner, ASU is down on the 1 yard line. They bring out their larger running QB, 18, and are going to attempt to power it in. Let's look and see what they plan to do.
I'm going to refrain form drawing up the defense's call, because this was a run play, and there were no obvious blitz's, so it was a purely instinctual read by the defense, not really a play call at all.
As you can see, this is what one would call a heavy formation. 6 lineman, a wingback and lead blocker with the running back in the backfield. The goal, like every Power play, is to get numbers at the point of attack by pulling guards and fullback/wingbacks, open a lane, and let the runner burst through almost untouched. Unfortunately for ASU, this play is a tad slower than a regular power play, for one reason. The multiple blockers in the backfield means that the QB must wait and read the blocks before he runs. Instead of handing the ball off and having the RB read off two blocks, the guard and fullback, he must wait for three, with the running back added to the list.
This pause gives the defense the opportunity to read and react. And Kony Ealy's pretty damn good at reading.
A major part of DL technique is reacting to the offensive line. If they down block, you fight against pressure. If they cut, you push em down and get ready to make a hit. If a pulling guard is coming your way, wrong shoulder, create that disruption/obstacle, and try to get a hand on em. And if you see a pulling guard, you chase. You chase like there is no tomorrow. Good things happen when you follow the pulling guard. If you can get around the tackle trying to down block you, then very, very good things happen. Let's see what Kony does.
As you can see, the guard pulls and ASU is committing three lead blockers to the point of attack. Ealy, in tthe yellow circle, is fighting against the pressure of the tackle and replacing where the guard had been. His goal is to get where the yellow arrow is pointing, to be in a position to make the tackle for loss. The QB is trying to get to where his arrow is pointing. And if the QB is having to pause to let his blocks get set...
BUH DUM Buh Dum Buh Dum
And that is how you blow up a play.
Play Two: Dave Steckel, Not A Riverboat Gambler
The next play comes in the final goal line stand, after a few very well timed false starts by the ASU OL.
In this play, we will see something really good. That something good is a Mizzou's base pass coverage defense dominating.
I'll put this up so we can get an idea of the situation...
Now for the break down...
As you can see, ASU is running a pretty aggressive pass play, one meant to beat zone coverage, which I am guessing Steckel had shown previously in a similar situation. ASU also leaves the RB behind to pass block, hoping to give 10 the most time possible to push the ball down field and win the game.
Mizzou is in Nickle, with Man, Cover 1 being the call. Ebner and WIlson are spying the RB and QB, and the free safety is going to drop back to defend down field.
Let's see what happens.
Pretty tight coverage so far. ASU wanted to cause some chaos by running a cross route on the bottom side, but the strong safety made a nice read and didn't let Gaines and himself to be caught up. ASU's line his holding up well.
10 is starting to feel pressure from his backside and will step up into the pocket. Still tight coverage all around. The RB release right into double coverage of Ebner and Wilson. If anything, it looks like Ponder lost a step to his man, but 10 can't see him....
...and he never will.
Caught by Ealy once again, 10 goes down. This is a coverage sack, and it was awesome. MU relied on it's secondary to give time for the line to get themselves some, and the DL rewarded them handsomely.
The result of this play brings up the most exciting moment of the game.
Play Three: No! I Refuse To Get Down In The Endzone! I Am Running This Back!
Let's once again start with a shot for reference, but I think everyone knows this is that last play of the game.
Now here comes the fun part.
As you can see, Mizzou is in zone this time (at least from what I can tell. This play actually happened pretty quick, so the coverages didn't stick long, but from what I can see, it looks like zone.) It looks like it is zone, with cover 2 up top, with 4 zones underneath? It's tough to figure out.
ASU once again leaves the RB behind to stay and pass block, and the receivers go out.
10 actually makes a quick read and thinks the slot WR to the left is open, which he will be once he runs his route. The route is a weird sort of bump and run route, only it happens 1o or so yards down field, which is risky, because it could be called for offensive PI. But it actually works. But 10 does not see 30, Walker, drop back behind everyone in what is his half of the field. If 10 did see Walker, he must have thought he could have dropped in between the two zones, which he very well could have. But he didn't.
You can see the bump and run route happening (either that or the nickleback wanted to disrupt the route, but I really can't think that Steckel would have his DB's engage that much down field)
We can also see that 10 is feeling pressure, so he knows he must get rid of the ball quickly.
Which he does...
And it's not a bad decision at all. WR is open...
But it is spotted. and after a beautiful break to the ball, intercepted by Walker and run back to the 50, and the game is sealed.
Conclusion: Our secondary is solid. Our DL....Lights out.
It was nice to re-watch some tape and feel much better about the defensive side of the ball. ASU threw everything they had at our defense in the final few minutes of the game, and while they did find some success, it wasn't repeatable. 10 can only bootleg and make incredible throws so many times before he gets caught or Steckel throws back a spy. ASU's running game was shut down for the most part, and that was very nice to see. Honestly, this is one fast, aggressive, and capable defense. I think, if they can stay healthy, they can by one of the better defenses in the SEC, but no where near the caliber of Bama, LSU (who is honestly?)
But overall, great, great game.
(No girl checkin out SCAR guy, work cpu won't let me upload pics. I'll make it a Friday funny or something if Bill doesn't mind.)