Columbia, MO (KMOV.com) -- Monday found Columbia a beaten and weathered place. The dull grey of the skies seemed to seep into everything- the roads were a matte patchwork of wet and dry, the trees an armada of lifeless branches straining against a stiff breeze, the sides of buildings covered in dirty melting snow, blending into a disgusting recipe of malaise that matched the faces of Missouri students.
Classes begin once more, and in so doing, they bring about the slow, draining grind of the final three weeks of the semester. Indeed, finding a smile on a Mizzou student's face is like trying to find an Xbox 360 on Christmas Eve. Welcome back, Tigers. How was your break? For those that missed it, I can shed some light on the answer. If we hear "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk," one more time, Lawrence will burn to the groundagain. The Missouri Tigers lost, in heartbreaking and humiliating fashion to the woefully inept Jayhawks Saturday in Kansas City. To fully understand what our eyes played witness to, imagine getting beaten up by the kid you mocked in the playground all yearin front of your friendsand your girlfriendand all the kids who pick first in dodgeball. Our quarterback played like a freshman early, our offense showed up one half too late, and we exhibited the worst college defense I have ever seen in FBS competition.
I have spent the season in defense of this team, standing up for each negative comment thrown at us, vehemently responding to criticism, but I cannot defend this performance. As KMOV.com writer Lee Morehouse said in his in-game coverage, the Missouri fans poured their heart into that game. Standing in sub-30 degree weather in half rain and half snow, they pounded seats with frozen hands, stomped frostbitten toes, and screamed sore throats. They did anything they could to pump energy into their faltering football team. Instead of a victory, they got to enjoy watching Kansas march down the field and score on a 4th and long as the Tigers broke the primary rule of defense: don't let them get behind you.
I will say I respectfully disagree with Steve Sliker. I cannot lay this on Chase Daniel. He played weak early, but he still led the Tigers to 37 points, more than enough to beat the Jayhawks. (As for the comment about us being a locked number one after a victory over OK State, there's is simply no way we would've passed Alabama or Texas' defeat of then- number one Oklahoma- but another time).
In regard to the blame game, the defense is another story. In spite of my frustration with the players, I still cannot blame them. I lay this responsibility at the feet of Matt Eberflus. Don't know the name? I don't blame you. He is Missouri's defensive coordinator, and if I meet him in person, I'm going to kick his groin with all the strength in my leg. This is a guy interviewing for the head coaching job at Toledo, and if this is his audition tape, they might as well bring Lou Holtz out of retirement. Eberflus did absolutely nothing to adjust to the Kansas attack. Flats Matthew, Flats. If you don't know them by definition, please hereafter recognize them as the areas in which the KU receivers were open EVERY play. Also, kudos on refusing to switch out of the zone. That proved exceedingly effective as Todd Reesing led the Jayhawks down the field on short gains to score in the final moments of the game. Our zone was Kansas' best weapon. As plays break down and receivers go every which way, zone defense is quite possibly the most hapless attempt to secure them. Take pride in the fact, that I- with only a year of pee wee experience and several years of NCAA Football on the PlayStation- was able to accurately predict which Jayhawk would be open on nearly every play. This was the worst defensive scheme I have ever watched, and keep in mind I live 45 minutes from Northern Illinois University. If Eberflus were a boyfriend, he would be dumped, were he a child, he'd be spanked. As news of Plaxico Burress shooting himself (the latest saga in the million-dollar circus that is the NFL) reached me, I began praying for an accidental discharge in the coaching booth.
Despite my wishes, he continued on and thanks to his brilliant defensive scheme, we gave the game away. In doing so we almost certainly doomed ourselves to the "Haines Threadless T-shirt Bowl", most likely held in Alberta, Canada on January 25th. In a season that promised a national title shot and two Heisman contenders, we are left with our back against the wall in a final, desperate attempt to make something out of this subpar season. Our task: beat the Oklahoma Sooners. Oh, well that's easy enough. We have had loads of success against them. And, after such a dominant defensive showing, I'm sure we will hold them down just fine.
Before this continues, I would like to offer something to Longhorns fans. I'm sorry about you feeling like you got the shaft, I truly am. But it would be best to take your complaints elsewhere. Just ask us how we enjoyed watching KU play in the Orange Bowl, despite us beating them and being ranked number 1, and we can just both agree BCS computers blow. But that's the way it is, and you aren't allow to have laughed when it was us and whine when it's you. Hopefully we can defeat the Sooners and make up for the injustice of having our bowl stolen. If we do, enjoy the rewards. If not, enjoy the fairness of the computers like the rest of us.
The only thing left in our arsenal is desperation. We have to play all out- use every trick, every player, every scheme we have to beat the Sooners. We are a team with nothing to lose. A win means a miracle and redemption, a loss means relegation to the "Taco John's Gordita Bowl" and a shameful exit for this, the greatest football class in school history. So I plead with you Matt Eberflus, prove me wrong. Make this defense great for one game- everything possible is on the lineincluding your groin.