So the RSS feed is always the last thing I catch up with after a trip. I didn't get to it Sunday or Monday, so I woke up this morning with 4,974 unread posts. That meant this links post was either going to have about 100 links or, like, 10. I went with the latter, in part because I didn't have the heart to sift through an infinite number of sad football and volleyball stories.
1. Hell yes, Michael Sam
2. Hell yes, Missouri fans
3. I really want to see David Morrison's snap counts piece
The narrative from the SEC Championship was that Mizzou REFUSED to leave its 3-3-5 defense and was TOO STUBBORN to try something new. I saw a lot of 4-3 and, I think, some 4-2-5 as well, and to my eye, they all got smoked. But I'm not the best at chronicling all of that while watching live; I usually have to watch a second time to get a feel for alignments and whatnot, and ... well ... I haven't gotten around to watching the game a second time yet. I was pretty happy only watching the UCLA game first.
Pace: Auburn ran 2.48 plays per minute, which is about on par with what Missouri has faced all season. Here's the thing, though. The ball hit the ground only five times all game, on three fumbles and two incomplete passes. Missouri's other 12 opponents averaged 15 such stoppages per game, meaning the clock was stopping but no momentum was accruing because of an incomplete pass or a turnover. Auburn ran a live-ball play -- meaning not one coming off a mid-drive clock stoppage for anything but a first down or out of bounds -- every 24.8 seconds, and most of them were coming after sizable gains. Auburn went nowhere or backwards only 12 times all game. Missouri's other 12 opponents averaged 26 such plays a game.
Offense Was Pretty Good, Though: I mean, seriously. Rack up 534 yards, 7.5 yards a play and 35 of 42 points and you're probably winning about 90 percent of your games. Not against Auburn. Not this day. It was the most yards Missouri had put up against an SEC team all year -- third-most overall -- the third-most points and the most yards per play against an SEC team -- third-most overall. And yet, it didn't seem to matter. Auburn's offense led Missouri to panic mode a little and got it out of the things it wanted to do. And Missouri still got a bunch of yards and points. Only 68 of those yards were really in garbage time after the game was lost. A good showing.
Now, defenses adapt, true. That’s been the case before, even with what the Fun ‘n’ Gun wrought. The quarterback position in next year’s SEC is going to be much greener, too. So maybe things will even out again. But there’s a part of me that wonders if something else is going on. Maybe there’s an attitude change going on in coaching philosophy about what it takes to win. Maybe there’s a growing feeling that there are other ways to skin the championship cat than to rely on having a shut down defense.
I could be overreacting, certainly. But something sure does feel different to me after watching that game. Now I wonder if next season will be an affirmation of that feeling.
4. This will become more and more obvious over time
5. Fine, one volleyball link
I think I was sadder about this than the football game, and I didn't get to see a single point of the match. I reacted to the football game with, "Well THAT sucked." I reacted to the volleyball loss with, "Oh come on, that's not fair."
HEAD COACH Wayne Kreklow
"Well I think obviously it was a very competitive match, I thought we had two very good teams playing. A lot of ups and downs for both groups. At the end of the day for us, like I told the kids in the locker room, in sports some days it's your day and somedays it's somebody else's. I was really proud of the way we competed, you know, it was hard to just kind of get things going on a consistent basis for us and you know, somedays it's just not your day and we've had a lot of really good ones throughout the course of the season and it's always tough to finish but there's only one team at the end of the year that's going to finish without a loss. I was proud of the way the kids battled and played, I thought we could have done a lot of things better, I don't think we executed as well as we have in the past, but Purdue's a very good team and they played really, really well. Our goal every time we go out is to make sure that we compete and at the end of the day if we don't come out with the win we want to make sure whoever does had to earn it, and Purdue had to earn it tonight."
On how Purdue's different look caused problems for Missouri....
"We talked several times during the course of the match...this is what makes tournaments really interesting, when you get outside of conference play you don't see teams. Every time you go out you play somebody new and everybody represents different challenges and different style. I thought, often what happens when you're playing somebody new is you're trying to figure out tempo, timing, rhythm, and I thought they did a good job there When you watch really high level volleyball you don't see a lot of hitters hitting balls off the floor anymore, often majority of the kills are coming off blockers' hands or deflections off of defensive players and they did a really good job of swinging high, hard and deep and it just takes time to get into that rhythm and I thought as the match went on we got better but unfortunately at 27-25 you don't get a 5th. It just takes time and sometimes you just run out of time."
On helping his players cope with the season ending...
"I told them a little in the locker room: that's life. That's sport. That's why you play games. I think at the end of the day you want to make sure that when that happens, whether you're in sport, whether you're someplace else, is that when you're finished, when it's over, you can walk out feeling like `I competed'. We've talked about this all year long is the ability to compete. You can compete really well and not always win, and that's just how life goes, someday it's just not your day. Some days are really good days but at the end of the day, you're just not going to win every day, it's just not going to happen. It would have been really easy to just throw in the towel but they just kept battling tonight. You can tell when a team's beat, you can see it, and I never saw that and so I'm really proud of these guys. I told them, what they did this season...I don't care who says what about who they played, and people can badmouth the SEC all they want but at the end of the day, they beat everybody that they played and that's a hard thing to do. It's a mindset that is really remarkable that at some point during the year they didn't have a bad night, or a bad game, and they just brought it every single day."
On the program moving forward without seniors Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow...
"That's what happens in a program, it's the next generation. When you've been in it a long time you kind of go through that. You have some remarkable players come through and when their 4 years are done they move on and the next batch comes through and develops over time. Back when Molly & Lisa first came in, they weren't nearly they players that they are now...they had to develop, they had to learn, they had to improve...so I think a lot of these young kids are in the same boat. I'm really excited about what they have, what they're bringing and I really like the attitude and the work ethic. I think over time as they get better and mature as players and people I think they're going to be very competitive and in the thick of things in the future."
6. Basketball team really did look good on Saturday
Belated Study Hall post coming in a few hours.