It's Mizzou/Miami, but sadly with 100 percent less Jacory Harris. Ross Taylor of Rock M Nation has a primer of what you need to know before the Tigers and RedHawks kickoff on Saturday.
TV Radio Announcers Will Make You Sick of Hearing: Run-pass balance
Meet David Yost.
If you're a Missouri fan, you either spend your life trashing this man or defending this man. Fan discontent with the offensive coordinator dates back to at least 2004, when Mizzou failed miserably in the attempt to take one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in NCAA history and pigeonhole him as a pocket passer. In fans' eyes, that should have been a fireable offense that proved what a failure that coordinator was going to be in his career. On the other end of the spectrum, Missouri evolved into a ruthless killing machine on offense in the 2007 season, and the praises of the coordinator had to be sung, elevating that coordinator to the current gold standard in Columbia. Who were those two coordinators? Trick question: Both describe current Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen.
Christensen was given time to hone and develop his playcalling skills, and did so considerably as he developed the offense around his talent. Currently, Yost, who debuted at coordinator last season immediately following the biggest mass exodus of talent the Missouri program had seen in decades, is still green as a playcaller, but the Tiger offense remains far from what one would call inept. The main point of contention since last season's Texas Bowl is what many perceive to be a lack of a commitment to the run from Yost, a topic on which thousands of words have been spilled. And while I'm not here to spark or moderate this discussion for the umpteenth time, the argument came up again after the San Diego State game, in which Missouri's effectiveness on the ground was minimized in the second half. If there's something working in Yost's favor, it's this: Public sentiment is only as good as last week's performance. Perform well on Saturday and the argument will lie dormant for a week.
Narrative You Really Should Be Hearing More About: Missouri's non-conference streak
If the handwringing since Saturday is representative, it almost feels like the Tigers lost last Saturday. In a bit of EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: they didn't.
The win pushed Missouri's regular season non-conference streak to 20 straight games. Depending on your worldview, this fact is either an indictment of Missouri's scheduling practices or a testament to the growth of the Missouri program in the 21st century. Reality probably lies somewhere in the middle. Missouri's last non-conference loss in the regular season came in 2005, when Hank Baskett went ballistic in Columbia, catching 10 passes for 209 yards in a 45-35 New Mexico win.
That 20-game streak could actually look even more impressive had it not been for the Texas Bowl a season ago. Including bowl games, Missouri is 23-2 in non-conference matchups since 2006.
In a "Show Me" State This Week: Receiver Wes Kemp
Coming into 2010, this was the book on Wes Kemp (literally... this is excerpted from the 2010 Missouri Football Preview):
He caught just ten passes in eight Big 12 games, and while he was emerging as a strong deep threat in the first half of the season, the key drop against Oklahoma State constituted just about the final time Blaine Gabbert would look for him deep downfield... So, who is the real Wes Kemp? Is he the next Danario Alexander, a deep threat who is also dangerous in catch-and-run situations? Is he going to continue to disappear for games at a time? Was he just deferring to Alexander, preparing to step up in Danario's absence?
As far as attitude is concerned, Kemp is everything Missouri could ever want. He's a hard worker who reads philosophy and motivational books to better his mental game. He's one of the best open field blockers Missouri has had in a decade, and the rare breed of receiver who takes incredible pride in thankless work. But, in addition to all of that, Kemp can be an enigmatic disappearing act as a pass catcher. Take his stats through three games:
Yds. Per Target
So who is Wes Kemp? As a receiving threat, we still don't know. Part of this is on Gabbert for not targeting him frequently (he was targeted twice for no catches last week -- Gabbert would target T.J. Moe or Michael Egnew twice on one play if it were mathematically possible), but some of it is on Kemp. Is he not working his way open? Does Gabbert simply not trust him? One minute, Kemp is setting up a beautiful catch and run on a tunnel screen. The next minute, he can't hang on to a deep ball over the middle. Soon after, he's making an incredible one-handed catch, then while he celebrates the grab, a flag is thrown for offensive pass interference.
For Your Mizzou-Themed iPod Playlist: "Big & Bad" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
"Like a wild train rollin' so wild and full of steam,
Once you get us going It's like nothing you have seen.
With some fire in your belly you move a little faster,
And the Devil in your eye makes you hit a little harder."
If those first two lines are true, Missouri fans haven't seen it against FBS-level competition so far this season. Wild train? As long as a bumpy ride is assumed, then sure, the metaphor is valid. For all we know, Missouri could be like "nothing you have seen" once it gets going, but Tiger fans still await that moment against a team not named "McNeese State."
The hope is that the last two lines ring true for the Tigers. After the game last Saturday, linebacker Andrew Gachkar admitted that the Tigers were probably a little too overconfident going into the game, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Pinkel said there was no shortage of lessons for the Tigers to learn from last week, one of which I can only assume must be reigniting the "fire in the belly" referenced above. "Move a litter faster... hit a little harder." Who says swing music doesn't relate to football?
For Your Miami-Themed Playlist: "And The Cradle Will Rock" by Van Halen
"And the cradle will rock,
Yes, the cradle will rock.
And I say, rock on!"
Miami University (not "Miami (Ohio)" as commonly referred, a nomenclature the school says is "not the proper name for [their] institution") is quite proud of its lineage of playcallers, branding itself "The Cradle of Coaches." One year obviously isn't a fair assessment, but if I'm going out on a limb, Mike Haywood's 1-11 debut season in 2009 probably doesn't warrant inclusion into that cradle quite yet. Upon his hiring, one of his former employers had this to say:
They made a great selection of a coach who is very well prepared for an assignment like this -- and although we will dearly miss him we realize it's time for him to run his own program. Michael has both the coaching pedigree and the personal character which will carry him to a successful career as a head coach.
The qualified spokesman? Charlie Weis.
Have fun, Miami.
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