The quarterback play of Mizzou’s Corbin Berkstresser was as bad as I’ve seen at the Division I college level. He missed on his first five attempts, then completed the first half by going 0-7, then 1-10 for six yards. At the half, he was 4-17, 30 yards. He did wind up with 9-30, 189 yard performance, but his 85 yard touchdown pass to Bud Sasser was overthrown and lucky. I know Berkstresser didn’t have much practice, but he was bad. Mizzou should use up Maty Mauk’s redshirt year, and start him until Franklin is healthy.
Offensively, the Tigers clearly aren’t ready for the SEC. The top-flight offensive line talent they’ve gotten from the St. Louis area, for the most part, hasn’t been able to crack the lineup. Parkway North tackle Anthony Gatti couldn’t get onto the field even with injuries that knocked the top two tackles out of the lineup. Timberland’s Nick Demien couldn’t beat out true freshman Even Boehm or walk on Max Copeland. There isn’t a top-flight replacement for running back Henry Josey, and clearly there wasn’t a reasonable replacement for James Franklin if he got hurt.
The special teams aren’t typical of a Gary Pinkel team. While the defense is very good, it can’t overcome the problems on offense. Mizzou has a lot of work to do to compete in the SEC, and Pinkel better get started adjusting, so that he can handle beating Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Old Miss, let alone Alabama, LSU and Florida.
I wonder, like every other Cardinal fan, why Mike Matheny had Marc Rzepczynski come in to pitch in the eighth inning of game one against Washington. When the Cardinals left the bases loaded in the seventh, I had a bad feeling. Then when Pete Kozma committed a leadoff error, that feeling got worse. And when Ian Desmond singled to right, I had the feeling that this was getting away. Second and third and two out, and theN Chad Tracy had been announced as a pinch hitter. Why Matheny didn’t leave Mitchell Boggs in to pitch to Tracy is beyond me. Tracy was 3-9 with a homer against lefthanders this season, and hit .262 vs. righthanders with two homers in 84 at bats.
Righthanded hitter Tyler Moore, a predictable choice by Davey Johnson, pinch hit for Tracy and delivered the winning hit. In this case, Matheny outmanaged himself. He had Boggs in the game, and Jason Motte warmed up. Rzepczynski barely pitched in September, and now he’s pitching to a righthanded hitter in a key spot in the playoffs? I don’t get it.
NFC West teams have yet to lose a home game. They’re 10-0 on their home turf, which makes them the only division to be perfect at home. The division is the only one without an interconference loss. So for the Rams to be 2-0 in this division is a big deal. The division has lost only three games outside the division, with the Rams losses to Detroit and Chicago and San Francisco’s to Minnesota being the only ones. And finally, the West is the only division in which every team is over .500. In a remarkable turn of events, a division that had a 7-9 Division Champion crowned 21 months ago now appears to be the best division in the NFL.