October 21, 2006

A place to stand

The Missouri Tiger defense has gone by a motto all year long: "All we need is a place to stand."

The Tiger didn't have much of a place in the second quarter against Kansas State. The Wildcats had a 7-3 lead and were perched to add to it. K-State had benefited from a personal foul against the Missouri defense and was at the one-yard line, set to run its seventh consecutive play inside the Tiger 10. James Johnson took his fourth consecutive handoff and ran into second-string defensive end Tommy Chavis. No gain. Drive stalled. Game over.

"I just lined up and got down," Chavis said. "I just knew I had to keep him out of the end zone."

How big was the play?

"The biggest play," said linebacker Dedrick Harrington.

The stop alone was big. What came after it made it even bigger. The Tiger offense went 99 yards in ten plays, taking just three minutes and 13 seconds cover the length of the field.

"Talk about crunch time, there's a time when you've got to make a play," said head coach Gary Pinkel. "To be able to make that stop and have the offense answer and go 99 yards, it's just a remarkable momentum swing."

What that four-minute sequence signified just may be the final stretch of that proverbial corner Missouri has been trying to turn for two decades now. It wasn't just that the Tigers made the plays, it was that they knew they would make the plays.

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