posted on November 11, 2010 09:49
There will be 56 Division One football games played this weekend. It would be a tall task to find one that offers up more contrasting styles than Missouri versus KansasState.The Tigers have attempted 355 passes this season. Only 14 teams have thrown more and four of those have played one more game than Mizzou.
KansasState has thrown 195 passes. Only eight teams have thrown fewer and four of them run the triple option offense.
Last week, the Wildcat air attack reached a stunning low in use. The Cats attempted four passes all game, completing two for nine yards. In fact, KSU intercepted more Texas passes (five) than its own quarterback attempted. I’m not the Elias Sports Bureau, but I can’t imagine that’s a frequent occurrence in college football.
Of course, Missouri isn’t sleeping on the Wildcat passing attack.
“They may come in with a different game plan this week,” junior safety Kenji Jackson said.
"They're very capable of doing that," Kevin Rutland said of K-State. "The receivers they have don't get that many catches, but they're extremely fast guys so it would be perfect for them to come out run the ball, run the ball then chuck one deep to one of their fastest guys and make a big play. We're just hoping that doesn't happen against us."
But it is likely if the Cats are going to win games, they’re going to do it on the ground. Daniel Thomas is seventh in the country with 122 rushing yards a game. Only Bobby Rainey of Western Kentucky and Montel Harris at Boston College have carried more than Thomas’ 214 totes this season.
"Talking to the coaches, they say he's probably the best running back in the Big 12 in their opinion," Andrew Gachkar said. "I go by their opinion. It's gonna be a big task."
And the Cats rushing attack got another injection of talent when Bill Snyder inserted Collin Klein as the starting quarterback against Texas. Klein carried the ball 25 times for 127 yards. He and Thomas combined for three rushing touchdowns.
“Obviously, each quarterback brings their athleticism to the position, whatever that is, and brings their strengths,” Gary Pinkel said. “He did a real good job in that start and I saw the film, very impressed. That will be a challenge. It adds a little different flavor to their attack."
As far as the Tigers’ own attack, they’ve got to get it off the ground (no pun intended). Missouri ran for 243 yards in the first half against Texas Tech. After the break, they gained just 17. But more troubling was a passing game that hit on just 12 completions in 30 attempts against a Red Raider defense that ranked next to last in the nation against the pass coming in.
"We've just got to keep practicing. We've had great practices all year long and we've just got to translate that to the game," Blaine Gabbert said. "I have all the confidence in the world in myself, my teammates, my receivers, my offensive line. We've just got to play better."
The key for Missouri this week could actually be the ground game. Kansas State comes in ranked 113th in the country against the run. The Cats are giving up 218.67 yards per game and a nation’s worst 5.64 yards per carry.
Could a change in style lead to a change in results for the Tigers? Everyone knows the Cats will run the ball, but will Missouri? That answer could very well lead to a winner on Saturday afternoon.
Gabe DeArmond is the publisher of PowerMizzou.com, the Missouri site on the Rivals.com network. You can read his daily coverage of the Tigers online at http://missouri.rivals.com.