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Column: Tigers should take ground game and run with it

Matt Gerstner

Nov. 3, 2009

I hate people who don't know when to use something that actually works.

That stubbornness almost cost Missouri the ball game Saturday. Had it not been for the defense, Colorado would've kept the second half momentum going and the Tigers would've suffered one of the worst meltdowns of the year.

Missouri's ground game set the in the first half. Tailbacks junior Derrick Washington, sophomore De'Vion Moore and freshman Kendial Lawrence scorched the Buffalo defense for runs we Tiger fans have been craving all year. Seriously, we had all but given up on the running game. It was starting to look like the Texas Tech offense: Pass 50 to 60 times a game and run for five, most of which are for two yards or less.

And yet, with all the evidence the coaching staff needed as to how Missouri could put the game away, coach Gary Pinkel and offensive coordinator David Yost refused to recognize the rushing attack and put the game in the hands of the suddenly-shoddy sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert, whose ankle soreness really seemed to flare up in the second half, despite his numerous attempts to dismiss any pain.

Instead of pounding the defense with the run, Missouri ran its signature middle- and jailbreak-screens and the swing passes to the outside.

I don't know about you, but I am far past those plays. They never work. Not against this kind of competition. You don't have the kind of personnel to run those plays like Texas does.

Running the ball worked. Why the coaching staff got away from that, I have no idea. Maybe they wanted to show off Gabbert. Maybe they thought with the game handily put away, he'd relax and start making smart throws. That backfired into a pick-six.

Almost all the credit of the second half goes to the defense. Minus the opening second half drive, the defense played one hell of a game.

What I've noticed, as I'm sure a few others have, is the alarming difference of the first and second halves for the Tigers. Maybe it's a lack of endurance. Maybe the Tigers are really easy to adjust to. Either way, something has to change.

I think after this season, the coaching staff needs to look at this offensive scheme and throw it out or change it dramatically. Without former offensive coordinator Dave Christensen, the mad scientist, the offense has lost its potency. Now that everybody's jumped on the bandwagon, it's easy to prepare for. It's nothing novel anymore.

I'm not saying the new offense needs to be anything groundbreaking, but at least a change. This spread has run its course.

Missouri got some help with everyone in the Big 12 North losing, except Nebraska. They still have a chance, and I still think Gabbert needs to sit. If there is any pain, even if it comes on later in the game, he needs to sit.

I realize Pinkel is a little apprehensive of putting the backups in, but he can't sacrifice his quarterback of the future because he didn't prepare sophomore Jimmy Costello the way he should have.

Something needs to change. If you want a shot at a Big 12 North title, the change needs to be now.

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Article comments

Nov. 3, 2009 at 7:27 a.m.

Larry: Are you an idiot or just young and dumb? Look at the facts before you write, "best journalism school in the nation". Missouri running backs: 37 carries Blaine Gabbert: 29 passes Missouri running backs in the fourth quarter (until the final field goal): 9 carries, 23 yards Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter: 5 passes, 16 yards THIS STUBBORNNESS THING HAS TO STOP. There was one play on Saturday in which Missouri should have run rather than passed--the third-and-2 slant to Jared Perry that was broken up. That's it. And that wasn't a mistake because a run would have worked--it probably wouldn't have; the only difference was, a run would have milked another 30 seconds off the clock And meanwhile, I think the coaches DID recognize the rushing attack: they recognized that it just didn't work after the first 20 minutes. And yet they kept going to it. Now THAT's stubbornness. Missouri running backs through the first drive of the second quarter: 16 carries, 110 yards Missouri running backs after the first drive of the second quarter: 21 carries, 65 yards Whether it's this column or Mike Dearmond last week insisting that the run would work, but Pinkel wouldn't run because he's god, this has to stop. Please. The facts simply do not back up the narrative, and the narrative is becoming embarrassing. Mizzou is not passing too much, and the Mizzou running attack isn't clicking at a consistently high level yet.

Nov. 3, 2009 at 3:29 p.m.

RealTigerFan: When you have the lead, and you're QB is coming off and ankle injury... you RUN the ball. I think he's talking more towards the season in general anyway. Wow who's the real idiot. We lost 3 games in a row because our pass way outweighed our run, when we run more... we win. notice a trend? thats what i thought

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