I've also included in the gallery above the updated diagrams of Mizzou's depth chart in their various defensive and offensive formations. We saw some new out of Mizzou including the QB under center when in short yardage situations and be here eventually.
Over in David Morrison's Snap count article he noted that despite the tight end seeing the field over twice as much compared to 2013, and playing out wide nearly as much in one game as Mizzou tight ends did all last year, Sean Culkin didn't see many targets (two!) and failed to capitalize on either of them. I went ahead and GIF'd both plays.
It's obvious to me that this short yardage play was designed explicitly to target Sean Culkin over the middle of the defense. Never mind that the linebacker was on him like bad drapes, or that the free safety was waiting to crush him if the pass was high. What I got from this was two things: Mauk and Culkin don't yet have the chemistry to connect on that pass, and Josh Henson has not forgotten about the tight end in the offense. You'll see that in the next play:
On second-and-long, Mizzou comes out with the tight end in the slot. The play is designed to pick up about five yards to set up a third and short depending on how many YAC Culkin can manage if he turns outside after the catch. The pass from Mauk is to the outside in order to find the space cleared out by Jimmie Hunt running his short out. There appears to have been some mis-communication since Culkin turned and stopped after 5 yards - from my vantage point in the stands I could see Mauk signaling to Culkin after the play that he was supposed to cut out down the 50 yard line.
Essentially what I got from this is that, unlike last year where the first second and third options were all wide receivers and the Tight End was a luxury, this year, depending on how quickly Culkin can get on board with Mauk, I expect Josh Henson will see to it that Gary Pinkel's favorite position will play a larger role in the offense.
Back to the secondary
In my article Wednesday about Mizzou's secondary and specifically the play of their corners I didn't get the chance to address the times where Mizzou did, in fact, play press coverage with Aarion Penton. I went ahead and GIF'd it below so to demonstrate what can happen when a large wide receiver matches up against a smaller corner back playing tight to the line of scrimmage.
It takes a special combination of fast and long to be able to play the kind of press coverage many football fans wish to see out of their corners. Mizzou is gaining a reputation for defensive lineman and quarterbacks, but finding a way into the niche athlete pool it would take to transition to press coverage takes a very long time. Since coaches only have years to build recruiting pipelines and weeks to teach players about fundamental defenses they stick with the kind of athletes they can land and the kind of defenses that provide the least risk exposure.
Rather than fielding the usual bunch of regular-sized speedsters in the defensive backfield to keep up with opposing receivers, Seattle decided to go big. By starting the tallest, largest cornerbacks possible—the 6-foot-3 Sherman or the 6-foot-1 Byron Maxwell, for instance—they tried to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage to throw off the timing that is crucial to the back-shoulder ballet.
But it wasn't just the height of Seattle's cornerbacks—they also had long arms. That is a trait more appreciated in linemen than defensive backs. Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers is a master of the back-shoulder throw.
According to Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, the numbers say long arms are crucial: Reid said that having long arms is the equivalent of having an extra tenth-of-a-second advantage on a 40-yard dash. It was the equivalent of one full step, which can mean everything at the speed of the NFL. For Seattle, it worked like a charm. If one of those pinpoint passes did get through, one of their long-armed cornerbacks would simply poke it away.
By the way, did that play look familiar? It should -- last year Dorial Green-Beckham had, in my opinion, one of his best games against an aggressive pressing defense when Mizzou played Florida. He made the catch below after getting through press coverage at the line. Once he was over the top of his man it was more about his athleticism and size than anything else.
As long as Mauk didn't put the ball behind him DGB was going to make the play.
I included this final GIF of Aarion Penton's interception in the endzone because I wanted to mention how AMP's (yes I'm going to start calling him AMP now) athleticism helped him make the play. Sure the pass was overthrow but that's some incredible hip-swivel while running backwards.
I compiled this, hover over the image below to find GIFs, videos and articles highlighting Mizzou's win over South Dakota State
Special thanks to bannedwagoner