Missouri has chance to flip the script against Oklahoma
Originally Published: October 11, 2007ESPN The Magazine
Editor's note: Each week, analysts from ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine will tackle a game plan for one of the biggest games on the schedule. Missouri hasn't beaten Oklahoma since 1998, and OU holds an all-time series edge of 63-23-5. But the Tigers are unbeaten and roaring after last week's 41-6 destruction of Nebraska. We asked our former coaches, Bill Curry and Mike Gottfried, to pretend they were gameplanning for this weekend's showdown. Then we had Jim Donnan pick a winner. On paper, anyway.
Curry takes over MissouriThis could be a rough day for us. Oklahaoma's bigger and better at most spots on the field, so we need to spring an upset. That means we'll have to work very hard on dominating in hidden-yardage. We need punter Adam Crossett to have a monster day, because our net punting average (28.6 yards) has to be 10 yards better against Oklahoma. We have to play field position football all day, because Oklahoma can't have a short field to work with. On defense, we need our defensive line to stand up OU's solid offensive line and create gaps for our linebackers, especially top tackler Sean Witherspoon, to get into the backfield. We know OU will run RBs Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray a ton, and we need to have Witherspoon and company draped all over them before they even get to the line. Once either one of those guys gets going downhill, we're in trouble. We'll take chances with monster blitzes to stuff the run game and get in QB Sam Bradford's face on passing plays. Even though he's a freshman, Bradford is very calm in the pocket. It's possible to rattle him, as Colorado did, and that's the only time he seems to falter. If Bradford is cool and collected in the pocket against us, he'll pick us apart with passes to dangerous wideouts Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias. On offense, we need Tony Temple's ankle to heal up in a hurry. He has to be receiving treatment five times a day if that's what it takes. Oklahoma gives up 1.9 yard per carry, and we need to do better than that, and Temple's the key. The biggest thing for QB Chase Daniel is for him to play mistake-free. If OU is getting turnovers and Daniel takes some bad sacks, we have no chance. Everybody knows we're going to use two tight-end formations with Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, but we have to break tendencies. That means putting them both in motion, shake up where they line up on every play, put one or both in the backfield and hand it to them, all sorts of different things to keep OU guessing. I'd do the same thing with wideout Jeremy Maclin. He's a Devin Hester-type game-changer on catches, runs and returns, and we need him to touch it at least 12 times.
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