Ten Thoughts for Monday Morning
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1) Are we ready to say Missouri's defense is for real? I'm not ready to say it's elite. I'm ready to say it's definitely better than it has been. Here are the statistical rankings through four weeks:
Scoring defense: 19
Rushing defense: 27
Passing defense: 5
Total defense: 6
Here is the complete list of teams that rank in the top 27 in the country in all four of those statistical categories: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Navy, Michigan State, Mizzou, Clemson, UAB
There are seven. That's pretty good company.
If you took away the two long runs by Wyoming, Mizzou would rank seventh in the country against the run. I understand you can't do that, just saying that a few plays can still really skew the stats at this point in the season.
2) Some will argue that the traditional stats don't tell the whole story. So how about these rankings:
Yards per rush: 25th
Yards per pass: 4th Yards per play: 5thThose are elite defensive numbers. I touched on this after the game and have seen many posters agree,Ryan Walters deserves more credit than he's going to get. The first two years were not good and I'm not going to argue against that. I said after the Wyoming game it was far for him to be on the hot seat. But man he has responded. Two plays really stick out to me: The Nick Bolton pick six against SEMO and the Ronnell Perkins pick six against South Carolina were scheme plays. Those were cases of a guy being in exactly the right place because of the system and then following through and making the play.
And people will say the schedule hasn't been very good, but Missouri has played two Power Five teams. South Carolina was better against Alabama and North Carolina than it was against Mizzou offensively. West Virginia was better against NC State and Kansas offensively than it was against Mizzou. Credit where it's due.
3) The biggest surprise has been the defensive line. Missouri is 23rd in the country in tackles for loss and 36th in sacks. Those aren't elite level numbers, but the defense doesn't have to be elite. It has to be solid.