5 Thoughts Citrus: Missouri 33, Minnesota 17

    Jan. 1 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl Missouri 33, Minnesota 17 And You Care Because … Down two, Missouri took over the fourth quarter with a 78-yard

    January 1, 2015

    Jan. 1 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
    Missouri 33, Minnesota 17 

    And You Care Because … Down two, Missouri took over the fourth quarter with a 78-yard touchdown run from Russell Hansbrough and a seven-yard Bud Sasser scoring grab to put away a strong effort from the Gophers. Missouri held a 13-7 lead on two Andrew Baggett field goals and a 25-yard Sasser touchdown, but Maxx Williams gave Minnesota the lead on a brilliant third quarter catch and hurdling run for a 54-yard score. The Tigers controlled things the rest of the way with Maty Mauk running for an 18-yard score to start 20-3 scoring run to close things out. 
    What Else? Missouri RB Marcus Murphy ran 12 times for 157 yards, Russell Hansbrough 15 times for 114 yards and a score 
    – Minnesota RB David Cobb ran 21 times for 81 yards. QB Mitch Leidner completed 21-of-31 passes for 258 yards and a score, but was held to -10 yards 
    – Rushing yards: Missouri 337 – Minnesota 106 
    – Turnovers: Minnesota 3 – Missouri 2 
    Game Rating: B

    By Pete Fiutak 
    1. Missouri outMinnesotad, Minnesota, and in the process, looked at times like a Big Ten team as it stopped the SEC nosedive. However, for a team that played in the SEC title game, it shouldn’t have been that hard to put away a midrange Gopher team.

    This wasn’t Minnesota football. The Golden Gophers played well, but they’re not built to throw the ball 33 times, and they’re not equipped to lose the turnover and time of possession battles. Most of all, Minnesota can’t win games, especially against good teams like Missouri, when getting outgained on the ground 337 yards to 106. Give Mizzou credit for getting its ground attack working with huge days from Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough, and taking the ball mostly out of the hands of Maty Mauk and the passing attack. The Tigers did what they were supposed to do, even if they didn’t do what they normally do to get there. 

    By Rich Cirminiello 
    2. Rush the ball. Rush the passer. Just another distinctive Mizzou performance to lock down a second straight season of at least 11 wins. 

    With a Gary Pinkel-led team, the process is rarely sexy. But the results are often positive, with the capper to another positive campaign coming in a Florida Citrus Bowl win over Minnesota. The offense overcame a typically inconsistent effort through the air from QB Maty Mauk with a couple of long runs from Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough. And the defense won the line of scrimmage, pressuring Mitch Leidner and keeping Gopher RB David Cobb from controlling the clock. 

    It’s going to fall well beneath the radar on a day that two semifinal games are played for the first time in major college football history. But Pinkel and defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, who’s off to coach Missouri State, have once again done an outstanding job of beating odds and maximizing the talent at their disposal. 

    E-mail Phil Harrison
    Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFB
    3. The little engine that could just ran out of steam.

    As good of a season as Minnesota has had, it is still missing the explosive athletes to be able to compete against the really good teams on a consistent basis. It’ll be tough for head coach Jerry Kill to take the program to a higher level than what he has right now, but there’s no doubt that he’s a winner and he’s elevated things at every stop. Now we’ll see if it’s possible to keep the momentum in the Twin Cities.

    And how in the world did Missouri lose to Indiana at home? All Mizzou has done since joining the SEC is compete for SEC East Division championships almost immediately. The first year can be chalked up to transition, but since then the Tigers have won two straight division titles in a league they weren’t supposed to be able to compete in. The offense has been dynamic, and the defense solid enough to get the job done. It’s time now for the Tigers to get over the top and knock out the SEC West champion. But can the program do it? 

    4. What’s next for Minnesota 
    The Gopher offense has to figure out a way to replace RB Daniel Cobb, but QB Mitch Leidner is back along with big back Rodrick Williams and slippery speedster Berkley Edwards. The line returns three starters, losing LG Zac Epping and C Tommy Olson, and the receiving corps has a few nice options in KJ Maye and Donovahn Jones returning to make up for the early departure of TE Maxx Williams. 

    There are just enough losses on defense to be annoying, but nothing that should be devastating. Steven Richardson is back on the nose and Theiren Cockran returning at one end. However, the two top tacklers – LB Damien Wilson and S Cedric Thompson – are gone. De’Vondre Campbell should be the star of the linebacking corps, and Eric Murray and Damarius Travis lead a good-looking secondary. PK Ryan Santoso had a good first year, but not a great one, while P Peter Mortell is back after cranking out close to 46 yards per punt. 

    5. What’s next for Missouri 
    Can Maty Mauk take his game to a better and more consistent level? He has the experience, and now he has to make everyone around him better despite the loss of receivers Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White. RB Marcus Murphy is also gone, but Russell Hansbrough is back along with Ish Witter. The line should be the biggest positive, losing LT Mitch Morse but getting the other four starters back. 

    Who are the next men up on the defensive line? Markus Golden is gone on one end, and Shane Ray is certainly going to be a top ten overall draft pick. The ends will be there, but they’re young. The linebacking corps should make up for the inexperience up front with all three starters returning including leading tacklers Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer, while three starters are back in the secondary, only losing S Braylon Webb. P Christian Brinser is gone after a decent year, but Andrew Baggett is back – he just needs to be more consistent. 


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