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Lesson Learned? E-mail
Written by Slim   
Sunday, 19 September 2010 18:13

sdsuhillman

Following Mizzou's unlikely victory Saturday night, Gary Pinkel said, "There are lessons to learn," for his team. Does the same go for fans?  What lessons can we learn?

Here's what I wrote in my SDSU game preview on Friday:

"If (Mizzou) handles its business tomorrow and comes out with a 20-plus point win, I think it's a sign that this year's team is going to be a real threat in the Big 12.  Now, if ... this one comes down to the wire, I think that's a bad sign for Mizzou.

So now, nearly 24 hours after TJ Moe's game-changing sideline dash, is it officially time to declare yesterday's three point win, "a bad sign?"

Maybe.

For years, we watched Chase Daniel sling the ball all over the field.  Missouri put up gaudy offensive numbers.  30 points in a game?  That was nothing.
However, as a fan base we yearned for more.  We didn't like seeing our Tigers win games 52-42.  That wasn't "legit," enough for us.  It was a sign Mizzou was just an offensive team.  No one wins titles when they're only hope is to win a shootout every week.
"When this team proves it can win a game in the 28-21, that'll prove that we're a real team," people thought.  "When the defense proves it can come up with big stops, then we'll be contenders.  When the offense can have an off night and the team still wins, then we'll know we're for real."
That was then.  Fast forward to September 2010 and who exactly are these Missouri Tigers?
It's a team who isn't going to hang 40 points on everybody.  It's a team that likely won't score on a majority of its possessions.  It's a team who's biggest concern is going to be scoring, not scoring too quickly.  But through three games this team has proven something else.
It can rely on the defense to get big stops.  It can win a game in the 20's.  It has a defense that is capable of carrying the team to victory when Blaine Gabbert is off.  It can come from behind.  Isn't this what we wanted?
As Mizzou fans, our natural response is no.  Now we long for the days of a 52-42 win.  Now we want an offense that scores in a minute thirty.  Defense?  Who needs that when you can score 40 or 50 points?
Naturally, we're not satisfied.  Sure, there are legitimate reasons to worry about this year's team.  There is no commitment to the running game.  The vertical passing game is not there.  The tackling has been iffy.
However, I wouldn't panic quite yet.  This is college football.
Michigan eeked by UMass 42-37 at home this week.  Cal lost at Nevada by 19.  Oklahoma only beat Utah State and Air Force by a total of 10 points at home.  We all know about Ole Miss, kU, and Virginia Tech.  Last season Iowa beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State by a total of four points.  The Hawkeyes ended up in the Orange Bowl.
Before we read too much into things, let's take a step back and be thankful for what we have.  We have an undefeated football team.  For the first time in years we have a team who's defense is leading the Tiger victories.
Missouri fumbled inside its own 10 yard-line yesterday and most of us we're already putting SDSU's touchdown on the board.  Kevin Rutland's interception took that away.  After Gabbert's first interception deep in Tiger territory we thought it was over.  Instead the defense held SDSU to a field goal.  A second interception?  Rather than give up, the defense forced a punt.
Ok, the 75 and 93 yard touchdown runs were unacceptable.  But outside of those two plays, Missouri limited the Aztec offense to only 272 yards on 77 plays.  That's only 3.5 yards per play.  That is a defensive performance fans have longed for.

Gary Pinkel says his team has lessons to be learned.  He's right.  Yesterday's performance was not good.  But 3-0 is a heck of a lot better than 2-1.  And that's a lesson that's better learned with a W, than the alternative.

[photo courtesy of the AP/ L.G. Patterson]



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