Illinois completes futile effort
By Jeff Mayfield
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As a witness to the debacle at the ED
on Saturday afternoon, I can only tell you that I wish I had been
somewhere else. Anywhere else! In the nearly 10 years of LDN
existence I cannot remember a time that we were more disappointed
than we were watching this game. And the disappointment didn't even
wait till halftime... It set in early and actually got worse the
longer we were there. Since that was the case, reporting on losses
like that is the most difficult part of the job.
That's especially true
when you try to examine the reasons behind such a thorough
beat-down. What was so discouraging was that the Illini didn't seem
to bring much fight to the field. They seemed confused and were in a
scramble-and-chase mode from start to finish on both sides of the
I am upset with myself because I was almost buying all the
hype. I did mention to Greg Taylor that I was not all that
comfortable with how high so many people were on Illinois before
the game. I told him that you have to earn your stripes and
demonstrate your prowess before you can have the rave reviews. I
reminded him that we had previously lost four straight times to the
Tigers and that I wasn't sure that we knew how to beat them.
Sometimes you hate it when you're so prophetic.
Now a good sports reporter would be able to break down the 37-9
thrashing and point out to you loyal readers the reasons for the
disaster. Since I don't meet that definition, I can only share with
you what I witnessed, especially when you see that the stats are not
all that easy to decipher. As an example, both teams ran 72
offensive plays and MU outgained UI 442-335, though in my mind it
wasn't that close. The Illini only lost the turnover battle 0-2 (and
those two were mainly inconsequential when you consider how dominant
Missouri was in so many aspects), and the Tigers were actually
penalized more. You may respond by saying if the Illini hadn't
turned it over on those two occasions, things would've been
different. As a witness to the accident, I would tell you it
wouldn't have mattered.
[to top of second column]
Illinois' defense made young Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert look like a
stinkin' Heisman Trophy winner, not just a candidate. It appeared from
my angle that our defense had never seen Missouri's version of offensive
football. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see Illinois' outside
containment, I didn't see defenders rush to the ball or the tackle, and
I didn't see any punishing hits.
I am going to put a stop to this
right now. Because writing about it only brings back the horrific
nightmare. So, I will conclude by saying what I wish the postgame
press conference would've sounded like:
Missouri dominated this contest in every aspect of the game...
End of story!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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