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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Column: Tigers cannot repeat Bowling Green performance

Matt Gerstner

Sept. 15, 2009

You could almost hear coach Gary Pinkel thinking as the Missouri faithful (and their faith was put to the test) watched the Tigers trip, sputter and shoot themselves in the foot.

"Not again...not another loss to Bowling Green."

The Falcons, out-talented and over-matched, out-coached and out-played Missouri in the first half and most of the third quarter. Is it just me, or did the Tigers not look like a Big 12 North contender in that stretch of disappointment and shame?

I had been saying it all week. Calm down. You can't jump to all these conclusions this early. You can't spring these expectations out of the blue (Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock, I'm talking to you). It's still too early.

The Tigers are very, very lucky they had the composure and coaches getting in their ear to bring them out of the quagmire. I give most of the credit to the defense for holding Bowling Green and sparking the offense.

Speaking of holding (in the illegal sense), what happened to the offense? The line resembled tissue paper, and when sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert had time, it was because the Falcon defensive line was in the backfield and their jerseys were being held at the line of scrimmage. Gabbert was either running for his life or cutting a rug with his happy-feet while looking for a receiver. He missed open receivers on golden opportunities. He looked like a sophomore.

Weird as this sounds, I think the crowd got to the Tigers.

A lot of the young guys seemed to get flustered. The Falcons capitalized on that. Trust me, I'm not blaming the crowd — which deserves credit for staying behind the team — but I think the hype crushed the Tigers in the first half.

This is why you can't judge a year in a week. Illinois is a sub-par Big Ten team. Just because you blow them out doesn't mean you should start buying your Big 12 Championship tickets. Things need to be taken one week at a time. The young guys need to learn that.

The Tigers' luck continues, getting Furman next week to get back on track -- barring an Appalachian State-over-Michigan-like upset. If it was Nebraska, I would be scared. A lot of things need to get back to the drawing board.

Some shout-outs are needed. Shout-out to redshirt sophomore kicker Grant Ressel, who has been flawless in his first two games.

Shout-out to senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoooooooooon, who seemed to be everywhere on every play, and was never quiet on the sidelines (I think I saw him rapping after one possession).

Shout-out to junior tailback Derrick Washington, who had a "three yards and a cloud of dust" first half and a track meet second half. He gave the coughing offense the Ricola they so desperately needed.

I still don't count the Tigers out of the Big 12 North race, for the record. I think if they can figure out the offense quickly and the defense bends but doesn't break — as they did against Illinois — Missouri could be in the teens of the Top 25 by the time we take on Texas.

But one thing the Tigers can't do is put on a performance like they did Saturday. It needs to be over before Furman even hits the field.

I haven't lost faith in the Tigers. But if we lose to the Paladins we've got issues.

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