.:: OFFENSE OVERVIEW ::.
Missouri won seven of its first eight games peaking at #19 in the AP Poll before dropping three of their last four to finish 8-4 overall , 4-4 in Big 12 play. The double headed monster of turnovers and penalties devastated the Tigers in their losses as Oklahoma and Nebraska scored 40 points off of MU turnovers while a holding penalty nullified a a game winning touchdown at Iowa State. MU committed zero turnovers only twice all year long and finished tied for second in the Big 12 North with Kansas State.
This is the 10th time in school history that Missouri has won eight or more games in one season. This is MU's 24th bowl game and its third in the last four seasons under coach Gary Pinkel MU holds a 10-13 record in postseason play.
It will be fun, and probably a little frustrating, to watch if you are a Beaver fan as the Tiger offense operates quickly often without a huddle in hopes of keeping defenses on their heels. They use two tight ends in their basic set and will extend it to four wideouts if they need to play catch up. The quarterback primarily lines up in the shotgun formation oftentimes with an empty backfield.
The offense is built to throw the ball both vertically and horizontally with the option attack thrown in. Getting rid of the ball quickly is also part of the equation although the Tigers love to stretch the field. Fifty four percent of the time MU picked up a first down through the air. The Tigers have a respectable 49-percent conversion rate on third down.
Eighty four percent of the time Mizzou enters the redzone they come away with points. Fifty seven percent of the time it's a touchdown. The only weakness with the offense is taking care of the ball. Of the 19 fumbles on the year, 13 were lost.
.:: QUARTERBACKS ::.
One of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12 is Chase Daniel (pictured left) who earned second team all-conference honors as a sophomore. Daniel passed for 3,197 yards becoming the first player in school history to pass the 3,000 passing mark in one season. He is very efficient with the ball completing 64-percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, almost a 3 to 1 ratio.
Daniel primarily lines up in the shot gun formation where he has been deadly with his feet and arm. Statistically he has gained 393 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, but the extra time he buys in the pocket and the sacks he avoids is something that doesn't show up in the box score. With 3,592 total yards on the year he needs just 14 yards to break the school's single season offense record. He averages 299.2 yards per game, good for fifth in the nation, and is coming off the best performance of his career where he threw for a career high 356 yards and four touchdowns against Kansas to end the regular season.
The 6-foot, 225-pound player is durable, smart and doesn't mind contact. OSU has played against some great quarterbacks this year, but Daniel is one of the best all-around gun slingers in the nation.
Behind Daniel is senior Brandon Coleman who has played in eight games completing 1 of 6 passes for 13 yards and one interception. Bottom line, the Tigers don't want to be forced to play Coleman.
Daniel's great arm and legs make him a dual threat. His feet buy the offense more time making the defense work harder and longer. Plus with the quick play calling OSU has no time for rest. But the Beavers have defended mobile quarterbacks well this year. They kept Isaiah Stanback, Jared Zabransky and Brady Leaf, for the most part, in check.
Look for linebacker Derrick Doggett to shadow Daniel and punish him anytime he decides to run. If Daniel does not run the defense must not let Daniel sit in the pocket or he will tear the secondary apart.
.:: OFFENSIVE LINE ::.
The big boys up front are a large part of the Tigers' offensive success. Missouri finished the regular season ranked 12th in total offense (414.33), 11th in passing offense (269.29) and 18th in the NCAA in fewest quarterback sacks allowed per game (1.33). This year a defensive player has yet to grab multiple sacks against the Tigers as they have given up a measly 16 total sacks in 2006.
The standout on the offensive line is big right tackle Joel Clinger (pictured right, 6-6, 315) who earned first team All-Big-12 honors. He is the highest graded lineman on the team grading out at 90-percent or higher every this year. He will be making his 25th consecutive start in the Sun Bowl. Lining up next to Clinger is 6-foot-3, 320-pound right guard Mike Cook who started eight of 12 games. He is an emotional player who has served as one of the team's captains the last two seasons.
The name looks a little familiar at center where junior Adam Spieker (6-3, 305) will be making his 37th consecutive start against Oregon State. Spieker was on the pre-season Rimington Award Watch List. The tallest player on the starting line sits at left tackle as Tyler Luellen (6-7, 295) will be making his 26th consecutive start. First year starter Ryan Madison (6-5, 300) rounds out the line at left guard where he took over the starting spot three games into the season.
Junior Monte Wyrick (6-5, 325) is the first off of the bench and has started in seven games, two at left guard and five at right guard.
The defense faces another stern test against a fantastic offensive line. No one on the defensive line can take Clinger one on one so they must find another way to get pressure on Daniel.
The Beavers rank second in the NCAA in sacks per game (3.46) but will have a difficult time reaching their average. A healthy rotation up front to keep the players fresh and a blitzing linebacker or two to keep MU on their toes is what OSU will try. Basically, what OSU has been doing the past eight games.
Tomorrow - Tight ends and running backs