Thursday, October 8, 2009
First-half analysis: Missouri 9, Nebraska 0
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Here's a quick look at how Missouri has claimed a 9-0 lead at the end of the first half.
Turning point: Missouri receiver Jared Perry got behind Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara for a pivotal 38-yard gain in the final minute of the half. The gain helped set up the game’s only touchdown four plays later, providing the Tigers with a 9-0 halftime advantage.
Stat of the half: Nebraska’s ballyhooed rushing attack came into the game producing 183.8 yards per contest and 5.7 yards per carry. In the first half, the Cornhuskers produced 21 yards on 15 carries for an average of 1.4 yards per rush.
Best player in the half: Blaine Gabbert’s statistics were pedestrian (12 of 24 passing, 107 yards, minus-8 yards rushing), but he appeared to gain confidence as the game continued. His two clutch plays on the final drive of the half -- the pass to Perry and his touchdown run -- showed that he has moxie to lead his team. That appears to be missing from Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee.
Best call: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel made a gutty decision on the final play of the half, allowing Gabbert to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-1. After faking to Derrick Washington, Gabbert reached the end zone after a scramble around right end before fumbling to account for the only touchdown of the half. After a replay, the call stood.
What Nebraska needs to do: The Cornhuskers need some consistency in their passing game. Lee thrown for only 75 yards on 8 of 22 passing and has appeared discombobulated by Missouri’s intensifying pass rush. Roy Helu Jr. hasn’t been a factor, meaning he still might be struggling with his cold. But the Cornhuskers need an infusion of offense quickly because this game is looking very similar to their lackluster offensive effort at Virginia Tech.
What Missouri needs to do: Gabbert looked comfortable as the half continued. But the Tigers need to get the running game to open up and do a better job of staying away from penalties. The Tigers have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot as they’ve been flagged for 65 yards in the first half. They can’t afford those mental mistakes if Nebraska ever gets its offense cooking.