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Missouri Tiger Interview

I'll be traveling today from Oklahoma City to Jacksonville Florida and then on to St. Simons Island Georgia so needless to say that posting will be light. I'll try to get the Oklahoma defense against Missouri offense up tonight but it may have to wait until Friday.

All that said we do have a great post for today anyway. I had the opportunity to visit with Ross from Rock M Nation, SBN's brand spanking new Missouri Tigers blog. Thanks for your time, Ross and welcome aboard the Machine.

CC Machine: How has this Missouri team improved from the team Oklahoma beat in Columbia last season?  

Ross: The biggest change in this year's team is confidence. Take for instance the following quote from Chase Daniel earlier in the week:

"You thrive off of and know we're going to a hostile environment to play the #5 team in the nation. So what? Who cares? It's what Missouri does nowadays. It's what we do. We put ourselves in this position. We want to be in this position. So what? Just go out there and play football."

That confidence can't be understated. Last year, Missouri was talented and was hoping to play well against Oklahoma. This year, the team is even more talented and expecting to play against Oklahoma.

A lot of people expected Mizzou to be the class of the North, but last week raised expectations that they can be the class of the Big 12. To be the best, you have to beat the best and the Tigers get their shot this week. But from a personnel standpoint, several things have changed since last year. TE Martin Rucker is on an absolute tear after feeling slighted by NFL scouts last year. Chase Daniel is one year smarter. Freshman WR Jeremy Maclin (ex-Oklahoma commit) may be the most dynamic freshman in the country and is leading the nation in all-purpose yards.

Defensively, S Pig Brown has come up huge all season long and helps set the tone for the secondary. Though most of the personnel is the same, the Sooners will see a vastly different Tiger team in terms of swagger this weekend.

CC Machine: What is the status of Tony Temple's injury suffered against Nebraska Saturday night?

Ross: According to the last report I've seen, Temple was listed as questionable with a sprained ankle. He told a Missouri beat writer that he is around 90 percent. Although Temple is easily Missouri's most dynamic back, the Tigers have been running 3 or 4 different backs all season long. Freshman Derrick Washington has been impressive in limited carries and figures to get the load if Temple can't go. Juniors Jimmy Jackson and Earl Goldsmith will also figure into the equation if #22 is forced to spectate.

CC Machine: Is their a weakness in the Missouri offense?

Ross: There is definitely a weakness but so many different things have to happen to exploit it. Missouri simply does not have the capacity to line up under center and overpower teams for short gains. Although Missouri's percentages in the red zone are outstanding this year, the team has had trouble in short yardage situations on a short field. The Tigers simply refuse to go under center and generally turn to the "Pistol" formation or a Daniel draw inside of the 10-yard line. But, again, Missouri usually isn't very vanilla in terms of play calling either. They generally won't try to overpower you so you'll see lots of screens, triple options with Maclin in the slot, quarterback draws, and playaction passes to the tight ends.

CC Machine: Do the Tigers play to stop Oklahoma's passing attack or rushing attack?

Ross: Quite frankly, I'm not sure how they stop either, but given the choice between the two, I think they slow down the OU passing game. I'm having Crimson and Cream Nightmares of Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray at the moment. Missouri's shoddy run defense contained Nebraska's Marlon Lucky last week with an inspired effort and a lot of help from a terrible Nebraska O-line. The Oklahoma line won't give the Tigers that same courtesy. The great hope is that Missouri can get up a few scores and force Oklahoma into the air. But if the score remains close, Mizzou could be in trouble. Game film from last week will show Stoops and Co. that the Mizzou defense left the play action stretch play open all game last week. Oklahoma could run stretch plays to the backs and then run a play action to a tight end or to Malcolm Kelly on a drag with great effectiveness, capitalizing on a defense that thrives on pursuit and is thus prone to committing too early.

CC Machine: Give us your prediction of what is going to happen in Norman Saturday night?

Ross: Well, given the OU loss to Colorado and the way Missouri played Nebraska last week, a lot of Missouri fans have high expectations coming into this game. Early in the season, I chalked this one up as a loss and figured they'd take the rest of 'em. But confidence is high in Rock M Nation right now. A very large contingency of Mizzou fans are taking the Tigers, and I think they will have a shot to win in Norman if they bring "Nebraska game" level intensity on the road. But right now I like Oklahoma by a final of 38-34, with the Sooners rolling up 200+ rushing yards and icing the game with a long drive that runs out the clock and doesn't give the Missouri offense one last chance.

Thanks again for your time, Ross and good luck in Norman on Saturday. We hope that your Tigers bring a good game but come up short.