How about a game of Big 12 word association?
Kansas State. Slow.
The Tigers’ previous two opponents are easy to label. Oklahoma’s offense snaps the ball so quickly it’s like the previous play is still going on. It tires defenses. Kansas State is almost the opposite. Bill Snyder’s team uses the entire play clock and keeps the ball on the ground, continuing to squeeze out seconds.
So the question remains: Where does Missouri fit on this spectrum of offensive identity?
When presented with the examples of Oklahoma and Kansas State, some of the Missouri offensive players adopted the Goldilocks theory. They said the Tigers were right in the middle. If the Sooners are too fast and the Wildcats are too slow, then Missouri must be just right.
Offensive coordinator Dave Yost said the Missouri offense, however, should be an up-tempo offense that utilizes the run game and the passing game.
“We’d like to be as close as we can to Oklahoma,” Yost said. “I know we’re not there yet, or at that point, and I don’t know if we’ll ever be that fast. It’s really good with what they do, very impressive and very attacking. We’re faster than most teams but not the fastest in the country.”
Yost cited the second quarter of the Kansas State game as an example of when the offense was doing well, with running back Henry Josey picking up long run after long run on the ground.
After receiving zero carries in the first quarter, Josey got the ball and gave Missouri some energy. First time, Josey went for 22 yards. Next play, seven yards. The play after that, seven yards.
“The more plays we can get run, the better for everything because we can spread the ball around more,” Yost said.
Others, such as offensive lineman Dan Hoch, said the Tigers are fast but could be faster.
Hoch, a senior, was around when quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert were putting on quarterbacking clinics for Missouri. From 2006 to 2009, the Tiger quarterback ranked in the top 10 in the country in passing yardage. Those two made a habit of lighting up the scoreboard with points and doing it quickly.
Has there been a shift in things with James Franklin under center?
“I think that we definitely want to put up points fast, but we want to start fast and be able execute our plays," Franklin said. "So the biggest thing we want to accomplish that we haven’t got to so far is being consistent, going out there and be able to run nine or 10 really good football plays in a row. ... We want to be more consistent so that we can execute all the plays we run in an efficient manner.”
Missouri’s offensive inconsistency has contributed to the Tigers’ less-than-stellar 2-3 record this season. The two teams that have established firm offensive identities — Oklahoma and Kansas State — not only defeated the Tigers, but both remain undefeated heading into this weekend.
Consistency will need to be reached on getting the ball into the hands of playmakers Josey and tight end Michael Egnew. Egnew, who had eight receptions in the season’s first four games, caught eight passes for a team-high 73 yards against the Wildcats. Josey's involvement was slow to appear in that game. Getting these two players consistently involved will be a key for Missouri moving forward.
Consistency is not always a good thing, however. Missouri has been consistently coming up empty on third downs all season, converting 20 of 68 attempts this year.
There still might not be an easy word to associate with Missouri’s offense, at least nothing as clear as Oklahoma and Kansas State. However, the players and coaches said eliminating mistakes and executing plays will be the key to making the offense look as successful as it has in the past few seasons.
“Schematically we’ve had the same scheme here that we were scoring 50 points a game," wide receiver T.J. Moe said. "The scheme hasn’t changed. Players have changed, and we’re not making all the plays.”