Missouri Tigers Notebook: Mizzou Improves To 5-0 With Win Against Colorado

Missouri shutout Colorado, 26-0, in Columbia on Saturday. Below are a series of notes and observations from the Faurot Field sidelines. Check out Rock M Nation for all things Mizzou.

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Missouri Tigers Notebook: The Note In Which Missouri Fans Will Miss Colorado

By RPT, Rock M Nation

Colorado fans will try to claim historical bragging rights for the Missouri/Colorado series, propelled mostly by 12 straight wins from 1985-96 during one of the darkest periods in Mizzou football history. But with the series coming to an indefinite halt with the Buffaloes' move to the Pac-10, it's time to take a broader view.

With the win on Saturday, the Tigers lead the all-time series, 42-31-3, and send the Buffs westward with five straight losses to Missouri. The shutout of Colorado was Missouri's second in a row at home in the series, as Colorado's last points in Columbia came early in the third quarter in 2006, running Colorado's streak of Faurot futility to 149 minutes of play. The Tigers' 26-0 win on Saturday pushed the aggregate between the two teams to a 203-40 total in Mizzou's favor in the last five games, including a stretch of 139 consecutive points from the first quarter in 2007 to the second quarter in 2009. Forget road trips to Boulder -- it's the recent stretch of dominance Missouri fans will miss most.

And, for a final thought, I'll submit without comment what the Tigers Lair group of the Missouri student section spelled out with painted chests: "Be careful next year CU. The Pac-10 doesn't allow fifth downs."

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Missouri Tigers Notebook: The Note In Which The Future Is Both Cloudy And Clear

By RPT, Rock M Nation

One of Missouri's biggest reasons for excitement in 2010 was the fact that Blaine Gabbert would once again be 100 percent healthy. Tiger fans spent a large chunk of last season debating whether or not a banged-up Gabbert was a better option than a healthy Jimmy Costello (Editor's verdict: Yes). Gabbert hurt himself in the first game of conference play a year ago, launching several weeks of "How's Blaine???" questioning from the media, and almost a year later to the day, Missouri may be staring down the same situation.

In the second quarter, Gabbert's right hip was hit squarely as he was sandwiched in the redzone, leaving him slow to return to his feet. To Gabbert's credit, he played through the pain (albeit struggling a little bit along the way) despite struggling to breathe at times, according to Pinkel, who said he pulled Gabbert once the quarterback finally admitted to being hurt. 

While the speculation will run rampant about Gabbert's health, the truth is this: Missouri may finally have someone else ready to handle the job if necessary. Outside of a few ball security issues in his debut against McNeese State, James Franklin has done nothing but impress in his time behind center. He entered in the fourth quarter and engineered an eight-play, 70-yard drive that included a 34-yard charge up the middle on the zone read as well as the first touchdown pass of his career on a well-sold pump fake. Gabbert's high hip pointer means Missouri's quarterback stability may be cloudy for the next couple of weeks, but long term, it's crystal clear for the next few years.

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Missouri Tigers Notebook: The Note In Which The "Third Side Of The Ball" Wins The Game

By RPT, Rock M Nation

The offense and defense have been addressed, but the Missouri special teams played a massive role in Missouri's win against Colorado. Let us count thy ways:

  • After an opening drive three-and-out by Missouri, Trey Barrow's punt pins Colorado at the 2-yard line. The punt keeps Missouri's streak of downing a punt inside the 5-yard line alive, with the Tigers having done so in all five games this season.
  • On the ensuing Colorado drive, Eric Waters partially blocks a punt to give Missouri the ball on Colorado's half of the field.
  • After the next drive stalls, Missouri downs a Matt Grabner punt at the one. On the first play after the punt, Missouri forces a safety when Tyler Hansen intentionally grounds the ball in the endzone.
  • Leading 5-0 in the second quarter, Barrow takes a fake punt 26 yards down the left sideline for a first down, keeping alive a drive that results in Missouri's first touchdown. Barrow would lead the TIgers in rushing until late in the fourth quarter.
  • Colorado starts a drive at the Missouri 13 after a Blaine Gabbert fumble, but after three big stops from the Missouri defense, Resonno blocks a field goal attempt and Missouri takes the ensuing drive 97 yards for a touchdown.

Save for a couple of mistakes in kickoff coverage (which were addressed by Pinkel after the game), Missouri's special teams has turned into a tremendous weapon for the Tigers. In addition to a Lou Groza award candidate in Grant Ressel, the development of Grabner and Barrow as a double-barrel punting platoon has given the Tigers a kicking unit that ranks amongst the best in the country.

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Missouri Tigers Notebook: The Note In Which We Don't Know What To Do With Mizzou

By RPT, Rock M Nation

I imagine pollsters for both the AP and Coaches polls woke up Sunday morning somewhat unsure of what to do with the Missouri Tigers. And, right now, the feeling is mutual. At 5-0, the Tigers are a Top 25 team, but their up-and-down performance makes them a somewhat baffling Top 25 team. In previous years, questions about Missouri's legitimacy rarely surrounded the Missouri offense. This season, the Tigers looked every bit of a top 25 offense while shellacking McNeese State and Miami University, but struggles in the Tigers' other three games make it hard to pinpoint exactly where expectations should be for this unit and this football team.

But in a bit of a recent role reversal, while mild questions hover around the Missouri offense, it's the Missouri defense that has truly played like a top 25 unit. The mandatory caveat about the strength of opposing offenses certainly applies, but the way Missouri has shown up should draw attention. Defensive tackles Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton played one of their best games of the season against Colorado, combining for nine tackles (1.5 for loss with one sack) and a blocked field goal. The Missouri defensive backfield -- long considered the unit's sacrificial lamb to both Big 12 offenses and Big 12 media -- is flying to the football. Carl Gettis is playing at a level meeting or exceeding his memorable freshman campaign. Kevin Rutland has developed into a bona fide cover corner on the other side. Kenji Jackson is displaying the closing speed and playmaking ability Missouri has sorely needed at the safety position. Kip Edwards looks deadly on the nickel blitz. The Tigers are now No. 30 in the country in total defense, but with the shutout of Colorado, the Tigers moved to No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense at 11.2 points per game.

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