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October 27, 2010

Breaking down the Missouri defense

Nebraska Opponent Defensive Scouting Report

Team: Missouri Tigers
Location: Columbia, Mo.

Colors: Old Gold & Black
Enrollment: 28,477
Stadium: Faurot Field (68,349)
Conference: Big 12 (North Division)

Head Coach: Gary Pinkel (Kent State, 1973), 147-83-3 in 19 seasons as head coach, 74-46 in 10 seasons at Missouri
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Dave Steckel

2010 Record: 7-0 (3-0 Big 12)
National Ranking: No. 7 (AP), No. 8 (Coaches), No. 6 (BCS)
Series Record vs. Nebraska: Nebraska leads 64-35-3

Game Date: Saturday, Oct. 30 in Lincoln, Neb.
Game Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
TV: ABC
Radio: Husker Sports Network

Up Front: The front four have provided a major push for the Tigers and lead a scoring defense that ranks fifth nationally, as MU has allowed just 13.14 points per game this fall. Missouri, however, suffered a key loss as NG Dominique Hamilton (6-5, 305) went down for the season after breaking his ankle Saturday against Oklahoma. Before his injury, Hamilton combined in the middle of the line with T Terrell Resonno (6-5, 295) for 39 tackles including four TFLs and 2.5 sacks. On the outside, DE Brad Madison (6-4, 255) has created havoc from the edge, recording 15 tackles including seven TFLs and 4.0 sacks to rank seventh in the conference and among the top 100 in the country. DE Jacquies Smith (6-4, 255) also adds 21 tackles and 5.0 tackles for loss for the unit that has allowed 114.6 rushing yards per game to rank 23rd in the country.

The Middle Men: WLB Zaviar Gooden (6-2, 225) and SLB Andrew Gachkar (6-3, 228) are tied for the team lead with 45 tackles apiece. The duo has combined for 7.5 TFLs and a sack along with two interceptions, four passes defended, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. They each rank among the Big 12's top 20 tacklers while helping MU rank 38th in total defense by allowing just 339.14 yards of total offense per game. MLB Will Ebner (6-1, 230) tied for the team lead with seven tackles against Oklahoma while adding one of team's three TFLs. On the season, Ebner has recorded 22 tackles and a forced fumble.

In the Back: FS Jarrell Harrison (6-2, 210), SS Kenji Jackson (5-10, 195), CB Carl Gettis (5-11, 195) and CB Kevin Rutland (6-0, 190) all rank in Missouri's top six for total tackles with at least 27 apiece, including 43 (30 solo) by Harrison. As a unit, the secondary ranks 15th nationally in pass efficiency defense with opposing teams posting just a 108.04 rating, the second-best mark in the league behind Nebraska's 90.10. Opponents have passed for 224.6 ypg (76th nationally) this fall as the Tigers have held to a 'bend, don't break' philosophy. Jackson and Rutland are each 11th in the league standings for interceptions with two apiece (0.29 per game) while MU has collected 11 INTs on the year.

Return Game: Marcus Murphy (5-9, 180) owns 10 of the Tigers' 19 kickoff returns this fall, averaging 23.2 ypr, but last weekend, Gahn McGaffie (5-10, 180) posted MU's biggest return of the season to date. McGaffie took the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and is now averaging 41.7 ypr on three returns, helping Missouri rank 29th nationally. He was named the Big 12's Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday as his return TD was the Tigers' first to open a game since 1967. The punt return game has struggled, as it ranks 93rd in the country at 5.6 ypr. Carl Gettis (5-11, 195) has brought back 15 of the Tigers' 17 punt returns, gaining 84 yards total with a long of 31.

They Said It: "We're getting better as a team. I think we have a real close football team, but our team's better than it was three weeks ago. I think we keep improving and I think that's really important. Every coach wants their team to do that, but in fact generally I'd say it's less than 50 percent of the time that that happens. I feel fortunate that that's happening and every week you play in this league, every game gets bigger and bigger. We play great teams and Nebraska is up, so it's business as usual and understanding we have a great task against us." - Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel on his team coming together this fall

Quick hits

***The Tigers rank ninth in the country in sacks and are first in the Big 12 Conference with 3.0 per game. Overall, Missouri has 21 sacks on the year while allowing just seven.

***Missouri leads the country in red zone defense as opponents have scored just 52.0 percent of the time they cross the Tigers' 20-yard line. In seven games, opponents have had 21 drives inside MU's 20, scoring just 11 times (7 total TDs; 2 rushing, 5 passing; 4 field goals) for a total of 59 points.

***MU's defense has been stingy when it needed to most, as it ranks ninth nationally fourth-down defense. Opponents have converted just 23.08 percent of the time (3-of-13) against Missouri on fourth downs this fall.

***Oklahoma scored 27 points against the Tigers last week after MU came into the game giving up just 10.8 ppg, a total of just 65 points allowed through six games.

***Missouri has won its last 29 games when leading the battle for turnover margin. MU had a +1 margin against the Sooners.

2010 Missouri Tigers Schedule/Results
9/4 vs. Illinois, W, 23-13
9/11 McNeese State, W, 50-6
9/18 San Diego State, W, 27-24
9/25 vs. Miami (Ohio), W, 51-13
10/9 vs. Colorado, W, 26-0
10/16 at Texas A&M, W, 30-9
10/23 Oklahoma, W, 36-27
10/30 at Nebraska, 2:30 p.m.
11/6 at Texas Tech, TBA
11/13 Kansas State, TBA
11/20 at Iowa State, TBA
11/27 vs. Kansas, 11:30 a.m.


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