Mizzou-Nevada pre-game thoughtsPosted: Sept. 12, 2008 at 9:26 p.m.
In a development ranking somewhere slightly below stunning, the Missouri Tigers didn't run into much trouble with Southeast Missouri State last Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia.
A 52-3 blowout did wonders for the Tigers' defensive statistics and set the team up at 2-0 heading into Saturday's battle with the Nevada Wolf Pack. A few thoughts for getting ready for the opponent from the Left Coast...
-- The young offensive line gets its second big-time test in three weeks. Chase Daniel made a point this week of praising the speed of Nevada's defensive line and its ability to get to the quarterback.
Texas Tech's Graham Harrell led one of the nation's most high-powered offenses last season, and Nevada's line was instrumental in holding Harrell to a miserable 41.3 percent completion mark on 19 of 46 passing last week.
Young Mizzou offensive linemen Elvis Fisher and Tim Barnes earned praise from their quarterback and coach after their effort against a tough defensive front from Illinois.
They will need to keep progressing this week in order to keep Daniel comfortable behind them.
-- In the season opener against Illinois, the Tigers' big defensive problem was that Illini quarterback Juice Williams hammered the secondary for 451 passing yards.
This week, the test comes on the rushing side. Eleven Nevada ball carriers combined for an astounding 426 rushing yards in their opener against Grambling State, and the Wolf Pack followed that up with 224 more yards on the ground in the loss to Texas Tech.
While the loss of star running back Luke Lippincott to a knee injury is a big blow, Lippincott was one of four Nevada rushers already beyond the 100-yard mark on the season. That includes quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is a threat to make plays with his legs as well as his arm.
The nation's fifth-ranked rushing offense will indeed be a tall order for Missouri's defensive front seven.
-- One more note on the rushing game: This team really likes to run. Really.A lot. The season-opening win against Grambling State featured 49 Wolf Pack points, all courtesy of seven rushing scores.
-- If you haven't yet, this is a good time to start keeping your eyes on junior Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. In addition to receiving Chase Daniel's joking nomination for most obnoxious player on the team courtesy of his off-key signing during team stretches, 'Spoon is turning into a top-tier ball hawk before our eyes.
His quarterback mentioned on Monday that Weatherspoon guaranteed six interceptions this year at the start of the season, and he has come up with three in the first two games alone, two of which went all the way back to the house for touchdowns. He has become both an emotional and physical leader for this defense, and watching him jump passing routes and terrorize opposing quarterbacks is a true joy.
Wolf Pack.Tigers.Bright and early at half past eleven in the morn.Tackle football in Columbia is what fall Saturdays in Missouri are all about.
Note: Steven Weinman is a journalism student at the University of Missouri at Columbia.