Saturday, September 10, 2011
Halftime analysis: ASU 16, Mizzou 10
By David Ubben
Let's take a look inside that first half out in Tempe, Ariz., where Missouri trails Arizona State, 16-10.
Turning point: Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler, who, if you haven't heard, is 6-foot-8, connected with Aaron Pflugrad on a gorgeous 60-yard rainbow down the right side of the field to give Arizona State its halftime lead. The momentum had shifted toward the Tigers, who scored on the previous drive, but Osweiler's deep ball gave ASU points on its first play of the ensuing possession and control of the game once again.
Turning point II: Missouri lost De'Vion Moore early on with an ankle injury and he won't return. Missouri had four reliable backs to begin the season, but for tonight and perhaps a bit into the future, it's down to just one. Henry Josey is the only healthy back left from a group that included Moore, Marcus Murphy (shoulder surgery) and Kendial Lawrence (broken fibula) and rushed for 1,557 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Missouri already entered tonight's game missing six starters due to injury just a week into the season. Moore was a new starter, so it's still six, but still.
Stat of the half: Osweiler and Missouri's James Franklin have combined to complete 23-of-29 passes. It's been a pretty clean-looking game so far with both quarterbacks dealing.
Best player in the half: Osweiler. He's been outstanding, connecting on throws at every level of the defense and really making the Tigers' defense work. In the first half, he was 11-of-14 for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He also swung the game on a huge throw to Pflugrad that earned our turning point of the half.
Second guessing: On Missouri's opening drive, Gary Pinkel elected to kick a 24-yard field goal on fourth-and-short in the red zone, rather than try and tie the game at 7 after Arizona State scored on its first drive. The Tigers have the perfect quarterback to make those kinds of plays, and OC David Yost has lauded Franklin's ability to push a pile. However, coach Gary Pinkel didn't give him the opportunity. Somewhat reminiscent of a similar decision early on against Oklahoma State in 2008, a game in which top 10 Missouri was upset on its home field.
What Missouri needs to do: Get in the backfield. Missouri's defensive line is strong, but it has been quiet in the first half. The Tigers have been unable to pressure Osweiler with any consistency, but the Tigers' cornerbacks need help. E.J. Gaines and Kip Edwards have both been burnt already, and two of Missouri's defensive backs somehow whiffed on the first touchdown pass. How did it happen, though? Osweiler had lots of time and receivers were able to find open space in the secondary.