COLUMBIA — The Iowa State Cyclones ran 76 offensive plays last Saturday, and senior linebacker Andrew Gachkar didn’t sit out one of them.
He has played in games before where an opponent ran more offensive plays, but there was always an opportunity to catch a breather, even if it was for just one play to break up a long drive. Staying on the field from beginning to end throughout each one of Iowa State’s drives was something he has never done before and never plans on doing again.
No. 15 Missouri (9-2, 5-2)
vs. Kansas (3-8, 1-6)
WHEN: 11:40 a.m.
WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
TV: Fox Sports Net
Missouri has won three of its past four games against Kansas, including two of the past three played at Arrowhead Stadium. A victory would give Missouri a 10-win season for only the fourth time. The Tigers also had 10 victories in 1960 (11-0), 2007 (12-2) and 2008 (10-4).
Missouri was incredibly thin at linebacker last week in the Tigers' victory over the Cyclones because of injuries suffered by Will Ebner and Jarrell Harrison. Senior safety Jarrell Harrison had shifted up to linebacker to solve the depth issue the week before, but with safety Jasper Simmons indefinitely suspended, Harrison was forced to move back to his old spot.
“It was pretty rough,” Gachkar said. “I was pretty sore the next morning. I’ve probably gotten in the hot and cold tubs like six times in two days. I’m still sore. You get this late in the season, everyone’s going to be sore until Thursday.”
This was one of the games that Gachkar said made him appreciate the grueling toll of two-a-day practices during the summer.
“The game was a little slower than some games, they didn’t do as much fast ball as some other teams have,” Gachkar said. “Eleven weeks into the season, you’re in pretty good game condition. You can run up and down all night.”
But still, the ability to take just one play off and re-energize in the middle of a drive, is something Gachkar is looking forward to next week with Ebner’s return.
“You get like six plays into a drive and then once the offense gets tackled they want to get on the ball and run a play as fast as they can. They’re subbing guys out and in, and we can’t sub because we have to get the plays or we’ll get caught,” Gachkar said.
“You’re giving max effort, but you’re still playing pretty slow because you’re tired. Getting some rest on one play is huge.”
At one point in the third quarter, Gachkar made his way to the sidelines looking for a sub.
“It was third down,” he said. “Their quarterback ran the ball, and I had a head-on-head collision with him. It was loud. It was just black for a second. I thought ‘OK, I’ve got to get off here.’ And then I heard one of the guys, and they were like ‘Just stay out here. We got one more. It’s fourth down.’ And then we made a big play on fourth down, so it was definitely good.”
And while the challenge of playing every single defensive play was physically grueling for Gachkar, he said it was more of a mental test.
“You definitely have to have a big mental capacity to play the whole game and not go out,” he said. "We’ve definitely built that up throughout the season.”
With Ebner back on the depth chart, Gachkar shouldn’t have to play another game like he did last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try.
“You get to the end of the season and you think ‘Why did I sit out that play? I could have played that play,’" he said. "Hopefully this week I can get close to playing a whole game again.”