Here are the 10 things I know about the Missouri Tigers:
1. Sean Culkin is loves-to-celebrate-guy. Seriously, rewind to any scoring play of the season. Before the camera breaks for the replay, Sean Culkin trots into the shot with his touchdown arms in the air. And when he makes a catch (all four of them…) he jumps up and looks around for someone to celebrate with. Probably be a good guy to party with. Just don’t thumb wrestle the guy, we need ol’ brittle-fingers on the field.
2. Third and long is hard. I find myself yelling, “RUN THE DAMNED BALL, YOST!!!!” several times per game. None more often than against South Carolina. Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough are good backs. Even when the line is struggling, they are capable of ripping long runs. So throwing incompletions on first and second down just teaches the defense that, no, you don’t have to stay honest. We’re not really attempting to win the game, just make long throws.
3′ Shane Ray is better than Ryan Sims. Remember when Julius Peppers was so good in college that he forced the Kansas City Chiefs to draft the guy next to him at the sixth spot overall? I do. I do. As it turned out, Ryan Sims was not good at professional football. In similar fashion, Markus Golden steps on a football field and his will is manifest. This draws attention away from Shane Ray. Shane Ray pops on film in the same fashion that Ryan Sims did. But Shane Ray doesn’t just pop, doesn’t just flash, Shane Ray is dominating. The Tigers might have two defensive ends selected in the first 32 picks of the coming NFL draft.
4. The DB’s are sneaky good. Is it just me or do opposing WR’s ALWAYS look open? And a lot of passes just sail right by. Either that’s because throws are often made off balance due to the rush. Or it’s because the DB’s really really understand passing lanes and the angles which make things difficult for quarterbacks. I’d say a little of both.
5. The first rule about injured list is you don’t talk about injured list. Did you know Golden was injured last week? Or Hunt this week? Or that White would be out? Hey, what’s wrong with Morgan Steward? Something about a hip, right? I just really hope that Golden was actually injured against Indiana and they didn’t just figure they wouldn’t need him to win the game. Either way, kudos on keeping the injured list on the DL. All in all, minus the Indiana game, of course, the Tigers have dealt with injuries pretty well. The USC
6. Little Gabbert transferred. But Maty Mauk sure looks a little like Gabbert out there. “Oh, a five yard out? But Sasser is 20 yards downfield, we’ll do that.” “The pocket opens around you? But I have happy feet.” I really think Maty Mauk is a better quarterback than he has looked the past couple weeks. Maybe not as good as he looked the first three weeks, but he’s definitely not bad. So what’s the deal? A lot of players go through phases and then something clicks. Remember when DGB (sorry to bring him up…) was a volleyball player? Well, he wasn’t. But he sure looked like it for a while there. And then he started catching things and realized he liked it. And we all know he had an addictive personality, so when he realized he liked catching things, he just kept doing it.
7. Gatorade? Naw, Mizzou lives on pickle juice. Even Spurrier looked like he had cramps by the end of the game. But no Tigers did. Pat Ivey must be a mad scientist.
8. Do you have any effs to give? Aarion Penton doesn’t. I would call him feisty, but there’s too many f’s in that word. When was the last time you saw a player celebrate winning the ballgame for his team on the opposing sideline? Before Penton, I mean. Number 12 on the sideline looked murderous, and Penton was effless. Remember that ridiculous Pharoah Cooper touchdown where he got walloped and there was much rejoicing in the endzone? Watch the end of those celebrations. Go ahead. Guess who is right in the thick of things. Yup, Aarion Penton. And he’s talking to someone. That’s like opening presents at your brother’s birthday party, it’s just a jerk move. And I love it. Even the way he walks is aggressive, with his head slightly jutted forward like he’s about to headbutt someone. Even his high-fives look painful. He may win the Michael Sam Intensity Award this year.
9. Marcus Murphy will play in the NFL. Dexter McCluster has been in the NFL for half a decade. Sure, it took Scott Pioli to draft him in the second round, but someone would have drafted him eventually. Marcus Murphy is like Dexter McCluster, but good at football. Plus Murphy has a head start as he is already running plays as a wide receiver. Plus he returns kicks. Plus he returns punts. Plus he puts on the Truman outfit when it’s time to do pushups. You’re just not going to get that type of versatility out of most players.
10. The linebackers are there. They aren’t going to blow anyone up. They probably won’t strip the ball. And it certainly doesn’t look like they are going to intercept the ball. But dammit, they’re there and they’ll make the tackle. If I may make a Tim Curry reference, and even if I can’t, in the 1995 movie-film adaptation of Michael Chrichton’s “Congo,” Curry plays a huckster named Herkermer Homolka. The most famous scene from the (terrible) film is when Homolka translates the writing on the walls of King Solomon’s mines, when asked what they say Homolka’s eyes get big, real big, Tim Curry big, and he says “We are watching you…” That’s how opposing offensive coordinators should feel about the Missouri linebacking corps. Also, is it just me, or is Clarence Green LITERALLY round?
BONUS ROUND: FOWL GESTURES: Hey middle finger mom, I love you. Also, was she Jay Cutler’s mom? Or was she just sitting next to him.
Adrian Fort is a writer, blogger, and failure from Kansas City, Missouri. He has a Bachelors in English Literature from Missouri Western State University and is working on a Masters in Creative Writing from Lindenwood Uniiversity. Follow him on Twitter @adriananyway