Lions and Tigers and...Oh My It's A Bloodbath

62-10 says a lot. One team left significantly more wealthy. The other got it's fist win and, honestly, an extended scrimmage to work out the kinks in preparation for this weekend, with 62,000 watching. The game was more than decided when MU put up 28 points in the first quarter. Takin' care of business. But that doesn't mean the game was boring, bland, or so easy that we can't learn how this team has prepared for it's move to the SEC.

Before you start reading, I'll add this disclaimer. The game tape from MU was pure vanilla. I didn't bother trying to break down the defense, the competition was outmatched all night. We won't see that level of penetration, surge, and domination for the rest of the year. So let's not spoil ourselves by looking any closer at it.

Lets begin!

Breakdown Numero Uno - Spread and the SEC

"Missouri's spread is too small and weak and fancy and girly to compete against the thousands of manly NFL ready front 7 players in the SEC"

- MarkMayLouHoltzSkipBaylessStephenASmithToddMcShayJessePalmer

We've all heard it. Let's look at one minor change I noticed during the game that will show how Mizzou's spread has adapted to it's new home.

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What do you see here? Spread offense of course. 4 wide, 3 and 1, Pistol formation. To the casual SEC fan, the thoughts in their head, besides smoking various meats, bourbon, and Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics is "Ha, stupid Missou, 5 wide spread ain't gonna do nothin' 'gainst these boys!" Ah, how wrong they are.

The closest split man in, 38, Jared Culver-McGriff, goes into motion...

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And goes to the weak side. (I am calling it weakside, because the formation started 3 wide to the left, so the strength call would initially be to the defense's right, and as 38 goes to the other side, he would be going to the left aka weakside.)

As the play starts, 38 is lined up effectively as a wing back...

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As soon as Franklin snaps the ball, Culver-McGriff rushes up field and seal blocks whoever tries to come around the DE, the weakside receiver runs down field and blocks the corner. and the line run blocks up field, getting to the backers. Now you may be thinking, why would we do the motion and fancy things just to run the ball to the short side of the field? Well, here goes nothing..

By spreading the formation out, Mizzou hopes to open up running lanes. You know this because that is what every color announcer has said since Brad Smith was our QB. But by spreading out the defense, making them go into Nickel coverage, aka three Corners (or two corners and one outside backer) and Two safeties (5 secondary players) Mizzou has changed and positioned the personnel of the defense to it's advantage. On the field are three receivers, two running backs with one in reality being a fullback, and a dual threat QB. By splitting out wide 4 players, the defense must respond and either split out a backer, or send out an extra DB. When 38 goes into motion, the backer follows in, but doesn't go passed the tackle, he has to cover the wide side of the field. He has to stay because In most defenses his responsibilities are flat to man, meaning he covers the flat in case of a swing pass or toss play, then plays man if a receiver or RB goes up field his way. So that's one backer blocked by space, and and extra blocker for us at the point of attack.

All of this gives MU numbers on the short side of the field. If you count, it it is: center, guard, tackle, fullback and receiver versus DT, DE, Corner, LB. Fisher takes end, Boehm/Rock'n'Roll Max takes the inside backer, Culver takes the weakside backer, and receiver takes db/safety. All of this leads to a beautiful diagram of blocking....

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Every single white jersey has a black one blocking it. At this point, only the safety has the ability to make a play. But...

See all that green leading up field? Guess who sees it too? Kendial Lawrence see it. He likes it. He likes it so much that he sprints all the way...

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...until it turns black. Perfect blocking + SEC caliber speed= six pack of points.

The reason for the long explanation of such a simple play is this. In the SEC, we will be facing front 7s that will be more talented and bigger than most teams we have played outside of OU and Texas. And we will be seeing these teams week in and week out. We need to adapt. To do so, we basically took an I formation weakside power play and adapted it to the spread. We took the best of both systems; from the spread, creating space/running lanes for maximizing our players advantage in speed and elusiveness, while mixing in some power football by giving our line the advantage of numbers against what are most likely superior athletes up front, and getting blockers to not just the DE, but to the backers, the next level.

These are the types of changes that we will see. In no way I am saying that we are less talented than other teams in the SEC. We are just giving our types of players the biggest advantage we can against the style of play the SEC favors.

This is going to be a fun season.

Break Down II - DGB Sighting!

DGB had a pretty good game. No real mistakes, he looked fast and big and strong. In other words, as advertised. But, as a true freshman, he still is learning, he hasn't fully made himself comfortable in the offense. But with only a few weeks of practice under his belt, that is perfectly fine. I would never critisicize a player, especially a true freshman. All I am doing with the break down comparison below is showing how, once he fully gets a grasp on the offense, DGB will be something special.

This happens to be DGB's first catch as a Tiger. Let's take a look.

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DGB is the second receiver in from the opponents side line, or as we saw above, the strong side of the formation.

No spoiler alert here, this is going to be a tunnel screen. DGB is going to sprint towards the line...

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..while the line and other wide-outs block. Franklin makes the easy pass and waits for the magic to happen. This is the sort of play that Maclin and Alexander would turn into magical moments we can still remember today.

DGB makes the reception...

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But before we go to the next picture, lets take a moment and think. Imagine and put yourself in DBG's shoes, with all of his talent and athletic ability. Imagine you just caught the ball and are where he is in the picture above. Where would you run. Me? I would run around the lineman blocking to my left, and then angel left up the sideline, with Washington, No. 2, blocking up field for me, hopefully picking up the first down, if not more. But this is not what happens...

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Disaster strikes!

DGB and a lineman collide. This completely halts his momentum, allows a backer to wrap him up, and DGB must dive to get every last inch he can out of the play. Now, I am not a world class athlete, and I am not a coach, so I have no room to criticize either DBG or the lineman. Things happen in a game, it was his fist catch ever and he may have been so focused on just making the catch that he froze and got caught up in the moment. He's just a freshman, and those things happen. The lineman may have drifted too far towards the sideline, or maybe the SLU player just made an incredible read. Either way you think of it, the play did not go according to plan.

Again, I am not criticizing, that was DGB's first catch at Missouri, and he will remember it forever. Everyone was pumped, and I personally love that he gave it all he had to jump and dive for those extra yards.

But when you compare the outcome above to the one he had later in the game, you will see how, when he gets a full grasp of the offense and puts the pieces together..good things happen.

Lets check out this brilliant play later in the game.

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That's DGB, on the weakside, all alone over there. Poor guy. Plus, he's got this real jerk right in his face. Too bad for him, DGB is about to make this a play he will never forget...and not for a good reason

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WAIT. Where did DGB go? I see everyone else.... Ohh.. I think I know where he went...


But in all seriousness... REALLY?!? Everyone else is still in frame!! How did he do that?! You can try and convince me that it was the camera angle, but look!! The players closer to the camera are still in frame!! And they are sprinting!! Holy crap!!

Luckily, Fox Sports MW had a camera that was able to capture DGB on tape.

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Wow, that must be one fast corner. I mean look, he's still on DGB's hip! Why would Franklin throw to him?! He's obviously covered! Man, Berks better get ready, Franklin isn't ready for the SEC...

WAIT!! What is this?!

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How did he do that? The corner didn't move, so he wasn't pushed.... DGB can't teleport..... Franklin must have like...known... that DGB could somehow create instant separation even when he is completely covered!

In all seriousness, what an athlete. You could say that the corner is most definitely not SEC material, that DGB should have been able to blow past him with his superior speed....but even if we consider all of still was an over 30 yard reception!!! I mean look at that. That was basically playing catch for him and Franklin. That is nuts. They have practiced together for less than two months....imagine when DGB gets a full year under his belt and Franklin in his senior season, both bigger, stronger and faster....

The first play is what we expect from a true freshman starting. The second play...

Life is full of happy things if you just stop and think about them.

Breakdown Threeve - Keeping Franklin Healthy

"The key to Missoui's season is Franklin. I just don't think that he will be able to stay healthy in this Thunderdome called the SEC" - ESPN Sports Analyst that has never watched Missouri tape

Biggest storyline over the summer? Franklin's shoulder.

Why I personally think we aren't ranked in the Top 25? Preseason speculation about Franklin's shoulder.

But guess what? HE'S FINE!

And better yet, the coaches are going to use him smartly this year. Not to say that they were using him dumbly before. But they know that when Franklin is doing his thing, this offense will be special. And that means Franklin has to stay healthy. And how do they propose to still use his running ability while not getting him killed against these mutated giants in the SEC?

Option football, son.

Let's take a look

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Now this is interesting. The formation is balanced. What side would you call the strength to? Most teams do the QB's handedness. So in this case, opposite of the ones above, the strong side is the side towards Mizzou's sideline. Pistol, with two wide outs to each side. Now, option football, if you read the post I did a long time ago about the triple option, is different. The goal is to turn the strength of a defense, specifically a strength most SEC teams have, an aggressive, ridiculously talented DLine, against itself.

If power football is running into a brick wall until in crumbles, option football is more akin to bullfighting. Franklin is going to keep the ball and run straight at the strongside DE, who the OL will leave completely unblocked. At the same time, Murph is going to run a bit behind and outside of the QB, ready for the offload. If the DE stays home and gets ready to tackle Franklin for a loss, then all James has to do is pitch it. He may still get hit, but he'll be ready for it. If the guy goes after Murphey on pursuit, then James slips behind him for a good chunk of yards. The best part about option? You get to chose who you run it at! If one DE is giving us serious trouble, option at him!

.....Damn, now that I think about it, wouldn't Franklin look damn good in one of those crazy bullfighting outfits?.... Someone please make that happen.

But lets see what happens.

Looks like James could go either way... Let's see who the DE picks..

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The DE bit on Franklin and he got the pitch off. Now... lets go back to the special camera to see what this looks like from a better perspective

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As you can see, Franklin had an easy choice. With the flick of his wrist, he has taken the DE completely out of the play, and given the ball to someone with a lot of room to get up field. With people named Clowney playing opposite Mizzou soon, this kind of play will be more common than it was this weekend.

Look at that Murphey! So much green!

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Touch the black Murph!

Conclusion - Fire Yost! All of this makes too much sense!

MU didn't break out much during the game, but we saw little flashes of what the coaching staff has put in to help us adapt.

This is how we are going to keep defenses on their heels.

  1. Winning the point of attack with numbers and talent
  2. Keeping the opponent's best players isolated and dictating who the defense has on the field.
  3. Stretching the field, making them defend the likes of DGB, Moe, Lucas, Washington, Sasser, McGaffie, Waters, Culkin, Lawrence, Murphey, Culver-McGrff.... sideline to sideline.

It's not going to be this easy against the SEC. Though this is some pretty tape, it's not going to look like this every week. But they ain't seen an offense like ours in the East since that throwing fullback left Florida.

Go get 'em boys.

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