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Tigers' top terrors

Among the opposing players that
added to Missouri’s woes this
year, these did the most damage
Thursday, December 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:39 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Missouri deserves much of the blame for their late-game collapses and disappointing results, but not all of them.

Whether they were highly touted stars or unheralded newcomers, several players Missouri faced deserve recognition for their exemplary performances this season against Missouri.

The Missourian’s All-Opponent Team recognizes those outstanding performances.

QUARTERBACK

Brian Luke, Kansas

Luke began the season as the Jayhawks’ fourth-string quarterback, but he played like a longtime starter in Kansas’ 31-14 win at Missouri. He threw for two touchdowns on 24-of-36 passing. His 239 yards came against the fourth-best pass defense in the nation.

His only blemish, an interception, came in the second half after Luke had put the game out of reach.

RUNNING BACK

Cedric Benson, Texas

The Big 12 Conference leader in rushing yards had 150 and two touchdowns on 28 attempts against the Tigers. Benson rarely went down on first contact and used his powerful legs to gain extra yards that earned valuable first downs for the Longhorns in their 28-20 win.

After the game, Missouri defensive end Xzavie Jackson said Benson was the best running back he has played against.

WIDE RECEIVER

Chuck Walker, Arkansas State

Walker, a St. Louis native, decimated the Missouri secondary in the season opener, making six catches for 126 yards. Arkansas State quarterbacks Nick Noce and Devin Hollins consistently found Walker for big plays.

Five of Walker’s catches went for first downs, including a 45-yard pass on third-and-24.

TIGHT ENDS

Brian Casey, Kansas State

Casey helped jump start the Wildcats’ stagnant offense late in the first half of their 35-24 win at Missouri. A 24-yard completion from quarterback Dylan Meier moved the ball to the Missouri 37 and led to the first touchdown. He put the Wildcats in scoring position on their next drive with a 38-yard completion.

He finished with three receptions for 69 yards to lead the Wildcats. He also helped pave way for their running game, which amassed 225 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys entered the game against Missouri with one of the best running attacks in the country but looked helpless through most of the first half. The line awoke, though, and opened massive holes for running back Vernand Morency and quarterback Donovan Woods.

Oklahoma State had 278 rushing yards, including 173 for Morency and 71 for Woods, who ran untouched for a crucial 34-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to tie at 17 and complete the Cowboys’ 17-point comeback.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN

David McMillan, Kansas

McMillan spent most of the day pestering Missouri quarterback Brad Smith and stalled Missouri’s comeback attempt with his second sack of the day.

McMillan finished with three sacks for 35 yards, helping Kansas hold the Tigers to negative 6 rushing yards. He also had five tackles and forced a fumble.

LINEBACKERS

Barrett Ruud, Nebraska

Ruud, an NFL-caliber middle linebacker, frustrated Missouri’s offense in many ways in the Cornhuskers’ 24-3 win on Oct. 30. Ruud spearheaded the effort that extended the Tigers’ streak without a touchdown to six quarters and held them to 51 yards rushing.

Ruud made 17 tackles, including 3 1/2 for a loss. He also received credit for half of a sack and a quarterback hurry.

SECONDARY

Aaron Ross, Texas

The cornerback had one of Texas’ two interceptions against Missouri and made it count, returning it 64 yards. The Longhorns capitalized with Benson running the ball in for a touchdown two plays later, giving them a 7-point halftime lead.

Ross, who did not start for Texas, also had six tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Reggie Hodges, Ball State

With Ball State’s offense unable to move the ball against Missouri, Hodges had plenty of opportunities to display his big leg. Ten times the Cardinals were forced to punt the football and Hodges did his part in trying to slow down Missouri, averaging 51 yards.

He also placed two inside the 20-yard line.

UTILITY

Junior Louissaint, Troy, OL

After running back DeWhitt Betterson fumbled, the ball popped into the hands of Loussaint, who carried it 63 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14.

Louissaint, a 277-pound guard, showed surprisingly impressive speed and carried Missouri cornerback A.J. Kincade several yards into the end zone.

COACH

Mark Mangino, Kansas

The Border Showdown quickly turned ugly with Kansas dominating every facet of the game to take a 21-0 halftime lead.

Although most coaches got the better of Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Mangino was one of the few to have a better game plan.

The Tigers threatened to come back late, but Kansas stayed calm, and the strong play of its defense put the game away.

Playing for nothing other than pride, Mangino found a way to motivate his players in the 31-14 win.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Cedric Benson, Texas

When quarterback Vince Young left the game with a bruised sternum and backup Chance Mock struggled to throw the football, Texas’ hopes of winning fell on Benson’s shoulders. The senior did not let the Longhorns down. He carried Texas in the second half and refused to let the Tigers stop him when Texas needed him most.

Had the Tigers won this game, the season would have likely ended differently.

ALL-OPPONENT SECOND TEAM

Quarterback

Allen Webb, Kansas State

Completed 6-of-8 passes for two touchdowns and gained 163 total yards.

Running back

Darren Sproles, Kansas State

Rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard score on which he displayed incredible footwork.

Wide receiver

Jason Samples, Troy

Made a leaping 33-yard touchdown catch and a 24-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.

Tight end

James Wright, Iowa State

Caught three passes for 39 yards, including a crucial 31-yard reception.

Offensive line

Kansas State

Dominated in the second half, helping the Wildcats gain 225 yards on the ground while allowing no sacks.

Defensive Lineman

Brian Robison, Texas

Intercepted a Brad Smith pass with an acrobatic leap and returned it 2 yards for a touchdown.

LINEBACKER

Derrick Johnson, Texas

Had nine tackles, including three for a loss, and three quarterback hurries.

SECONDARY

Charles Gordon, Kansas

The Jayhawks’ resident utility man had an interception in the fourth quarter that he returned 23 yards, sealing the win.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jason Ricks, Oklahoma State

Made 2-of-2 field goals, including the winning kick with 55 seconds left.

UTILITY

Bernard Davis, Troy, LB

Produced 11 tackles, forced a fumble, broke up three passes and blocked a punt.

COACH

Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Kept his team focused despite being down 21-0 on the road.


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