Missouri represents a number of challenges for us, as we do for them.
Their first challenge: firing the SID
Let's explore the issues relevant to this matchup joyfully like a playscape made of taffy.
No Vanilla Please
We need our defense as dark and complex as a Nigerian beat poet. Chase Daniel has been running this offense since he was four. Although he has kept the same stature, his knowledge continues to grow. If we play Missouri like we did OU, we're in trouble. Chase will throw from muscle memory while stifling a yawn and we'll find ourselves in a shootout. You don't challenge someone to a game of HORSE and shoot nothing but layups. I want to force him to hit some off-balance three pointers from behind the garage while hopping. I'd like to see everything from bringing 7 to bringing 3 and showing 5 while doing it.
If we take a page from OSU's playbook and
blitz stunt liberally, shift all of our coverages and fronts right before the snap, shoot the gaps that Missouri's wide splits dare you to venture in, run a lot of twists and games as we did against Colorado and Arkansas, and generally unleash hell, we'll have the results we want: hits on Daniel, negative plays, pressure in his face, the possibility of turnovers. It also stifles Missouri's running game with Washington. Daniel doesn't throw that well on the run and Missouri's running game is largely predicated on your overcommitment to their passing game and the ample room afforded by their line splits. Guys like Orakpo, Kindle, Miller and Houston scream mismatch against their counterpart.
The Hobbit Won't Choke
Hobbitses must be kicked
There's a small internet meme I'd like to try to eviscerate that Chase Daniel will fold when the going gets tough and his competitive fire is quenched and replaced with sulky bitchiness when he meets a defense that can't be immediately had. In short, that he is Graham Harrell. I'm not completely sure I buy it. And I say that with full awareness that I am defending a guy who has sported a line beard, a skull cap, and a faux hawk. That intensity of douche could clean out Shirley Hemphill's vagina with an eye dropper. I admit this. No, I see an ultra competitive guy who is almost singlehandedly responsible for Missouri even being a topic of college football conversation. When he presses, I think he does so for all of the right reasons: he's placing the team on his back - again -and trying to make a play. We used to have a guy like that here, remember? Sam Gamgee is going to come into Austin with a scroll of payback longer than Tolstoy and the only way to beat him will be to put him on the ground repeatedly and blanket his receivers like Linus. People are under the impression post-OSU that Chase Daniel is headed down the road of self-implosion and I don't think anything could be further from the truth. He'll play very well. The way to make him play not very well is to rob him of certainty. If he doesn't know where he's going with the ball or how long he'll need to hold onto it, that's when Daniel is most likely to press.
Is Elvis Dead?
LT Elvis Fisher is a first year starter and RS Frosh. He'll draw Orakpo. C Tim Barnes is a first year starter sophomore. Senior RT Colin Brown is quality, but also 6'8" 330 and doesn't reek of quickness. They're a good group on the whole, but they've also feasted on a lot of bad defenses conceding a pass rush because Daniel gets the ball out so quickly. OSU didn't make that concession and it caused Missouri some problems. We shouldn't either.
Don't Trust Anyone Over 19
With Ryan Palmer out, we'll drink even more infant formula in the secondary. Our dime package will feature a junior, two sophomores, and three freshmen. Two of those are true freshmen. We're facing one of the Top 5 passing offenses in college football. So. Holy shit. Like Oklahoma, Missouri will get their yards. The key is avoiding the brain dead busted coverage (see Gresham) that allows an easy score. I'm not entirely confident that Missouri can score a touchdown at the conclusion of a 70 yard drive. I see that ending in 3 as often as in 6. I'm quite confident, however, that Jeremy Maclin sprinting down a sideline in single coverage because we decided to triple Tommy Saunders on the in route is 6 every time. We have to have some environmental awareness and football IQ. In other words, think about what a Dallas Cowboy would do and then do the opposite.
Big Boy Back 4
One of Missouri's great strengths is their huge, experienced, and physical secondary. One of Missouri's great weaknesses is their huge secondary. Missouri almost ended Dez Bryant's life in Columbia. Missouri also had Cowboy receivers running more open than Taco Cabana. They don't lack speed. And they will definitely hit you. But some of them lack quickness.
21 Castine Bridges – 6-2, 205, Sr., 1L
19 Carl Gettis – 5-11, 200, So., 1L
8 Justin Garrett – 6-2, 210, Sr., 1L
1 William Moore – 6-1, 230, Sr., 3L
When your secondary averages 6-1, 211 you're going to lay some wood, but if they aren't all athletic freaks you're going to struggle with receivers with a lot of quicks and shiftiness who will catch the ball even when hammered. How would you describe Shipley and Cosby?
Uh, yeah. I'm going to sort of need some more synergy from you. Okay?
Yes, I cringe at that overused word too, but if it is a good description for Texas on offense, it's the near antonym for Missouri's defense. They're not a bad defense. Not even close. They have playmakers at every level: Hood & Sulak on the DL, Weatherspoon at LB, any member of their secondary on any given Saturday. It's just that when you can identify five NFL caliber players on a defense and they have ten returning starters overall from a very solid squad last year, you have to wonder why they're not making that leap. Maybe they will. With some of the busts you see from them - and given their experience - it's as if each unit practices independently all week and sees each other for the first time on Game Day. Hi, I'm Stryker. I'll be your DE today. Everyone: Hi Stryker! My prescription is lots of crossing routes, double moves, and the flea flicker we saw against Rice. Make them think, make them run, make them tackle in open space.
Tackle Jeremy Maclin. Please. Any questions?
The Maddening Crowd.
Night game. ESPN GameDay. #1 ranking. 100,000 Longhorns in full Burnt Orange fan-on. Alcohol flowing more freely than Fannie Mae loans to deadbeats. The very real sense from our fans that they can (and must) elevate our team's play. It's going to be wild. There's another side to all of this: ask Georgia how much the crowd can actually play against you if it turns out that you're not remotely prepared to play. Go down early and that numb feeling in your legs and the paralysis creeping over your body isn't adrenaline - it's fear and embarrassment. Now imagine you're 18 and Jeremy Maclin is lined up across from you.
Fortunately, I think we'll be ready. Our line play is Cher to Georgia's Sonny Bono and the only Black Out! our crowd will achieve will be done the old fashioned way - through eight hours of methodical pre-game drinking. In 1990, I attended a night game between Texas and Houston and it's still the most insanely raucous home crowd in Texas history. Both of our Rose Bowls wins featured similar fervor. If we can match that intensity with 100,000 Orangebloods in full psychotic harmony, Brian Orakpo will have so much adrenaline he'll end up clubbing Chase Daniel with a Honda Civic like he's in a super-hero battle. Roy Miller will burrow under the field and arrive in Missouri's backfield like Bugs Bunny looking for Pismo Beach. Roddrick Muckelroy will hit someone so hard that he knocks off their pores. It's a big factor, but as with any beast, you need to feed it early with good play. Particularly on defense.
We invite our friends at Atomic Teeth to jump in and opine. What are your thoughts?