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Missouri opponents filled with top players

Thursday, December 11, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Having faced All-Big 12 Conference players, All-Americans and Heisman Trophy candidates, the Missouri football team saw more than its fair share of quality opponents this season.

Although eight of Missouri’s 12 opponents are represented on the Missourian’s All-Opponent team, Oklahoma naturally dominates the defense. Some of the picks were obvious, but others might come as a surprise.

Quarterback

Andrico Hines, Middle Tennessee State

Oklahoma’s Jason White might win the Heisman, but Hines was better against Missouri. Hines helped the Blue Raiders take Missouri to overtime, throwing for 248 yards and a touchdown and adding a rushing touchdown.

Running back

Darren Sproles, Kansas State

Sproles shined against the Tigers, rushing for 273 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries. The Wildcats rarely had to turn to the passing game in defeating Missouri, because Sproles was dominant.

E.B. Halsey, Illinois

Halsey, a freshman, surprised the Tigers. He rushed 20 times for 139 yards and moved the Fighting Illini close enough to make three field goals.

Wide receiver

Kerry Wright, Middle Tennessee State

Wright was Hines’ favorite target against the Tigers, catching seven passes for 144 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown.

Mark Clayton, Oklahoma

At the beginning of OU’s second-quarter scoring spree, Clayton wrestled the ball away from Nino Williams II in the end zone and the momentum away from the Tigers. Clayton finished with eight catches for 110 yards.

Terrence Murphy, Texas A&M

Murphy racked up eight catches for 156 yards against the Tigers, mostly coming in the second half after Dustin Long had replaced Reggie McNeal at quarterback.

Offensive line

Nick Leckey, C, Kansas State

Leckey was the driving force behind the most dominant running performance a Kansas State running back has had. He paved the way for Sproles’ 278 yards, most of which were between the tackles and behind Leckey, a future NFL center.

Vince Carter, C, Oklahoma

Carter kept White’s uniform clean most of the night against Missouri and helped the Sooners gain 424 yards.

Jammal Brown, T, Oklahoma

Brown held the Missouri pass rush at bay most of the night and made a number of good seal blocks to spur the Oklahoma running game.

Marwan Hage, G, Colorado

Hage was the Buffaloes’ only dominant force on the offensive line, creating holes for most of tailback Brian Calhoun’s 65 yards rushing.

Richie Incognito, T, Nebraska

Incognito, the Cornhuskers’ massive offensive tackle (6 feet 3, 300 pounds), was a big reason for Nebraska’s success running the ball. The Cornhuskers finished that game with 254 yards rushing.

Defensive end

Dan Cody, Oklahoma

Cody was probably the most dominating defensive player Missouri played. He lit up the MU offensive line to the tune of three tackles for losses, including a sack and a quarterback hurry.

Mike O’Brien, Illinois

O’Brien wasn’t flagged for any offside penalties, but it seemed as if he should have been, for he spent most of his day in the Missouri backfield. He finished with nine tackles, three for losses and had a sack.

Defensive tackle

Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma

Dvoracek doesn’t get the credit of some of his Sooners linemates, but he was outstanding against the Tigers, disrupting the backfield for most of the night. Dvoracek finished with four tackles, including two sacks.

Tommie Harris, Oklahoma

Harris didn’t make that many big plays against Missouri, but it was obvious why he is drawing so much attention from NFL scouts. He had four quarterback hurries and his relentless bull rush up the middle left many openings for his teammates to make tackles.

Linebacker

Josh Buhl, Kansas State

Buhl helped anchor the Kansas State defense, which held Missouri to 14 points and 264 yards. Buhl was a big part of the Wildcats’ holding Missouri quarterback Brad Smith to 26 yards rushing.

Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma

Lehman, an All-American, had 10 tackles and one sack against Missouri, helping anchor Oklahoma’s stingy defense. He helped the Sooners slow down Smith and the Tigers’ offense.

Gabe Toomey, Kansas

Leading Kansas’ stifling defensive effort against the Tigers, Toomey had 12 tackles and two tackles for losses. The Jayhawks stymied Missouri, holding it to a season-low 196 yards of total offense.

Cornerback

Derrick Strait, Oklahoma

Strait broke up two passes and had an interception in the fourth quarter, helping to thwart any comeback hopes the Tigers had. He anchored the Sooners’ pass defense, which held Missouri to 189 passing yards.

Louis Lavender, Kansas State

Lavender stepped in front of Darius Outlaw to intercept a pass in the Tigers’ end zone and thwarted a chance for MU to gain momentum.

Safety

Josh Bullocks, Nebraska

Bullocks, who leads the nation with 10 interceptions, intercepted a bubble screen at the Cornhuskers’ 26 in the first quarter. Unfortunately for Nebraska, most of the other big plays went Missouri’s way.

Medford Moorer, Colorado

Moorer delivered the hardest hit of the season against MU when he blindsided junior tight end Victor Sesay. Moorer had 16 tackles and forced Smith to fumble in Colorado’s end zone.

Kicker

John Gockman, Illinois

Gockman made three field goals against the Tigers, including lengths of 48 and 44 yards.

Punter

John Torp, Colorado

Torp made the Tigers wistful for a consistent punter. Torp averaged 50.7 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards and placed three of his punts inside the Tigers’ 20.

Kick returner

Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma

Perkins continued his streak of dominance against the Tigers. Perkins returned a punt 69 yards untouched for a touchdown.


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