ESPN: Mizzou d-line is on the spot

Missouri defensive end Brian Coulter (2) and defensive lineman Jaron Baston are part of a defensive front that will have its hands full shutting down Ricky Dobbs and the Navy offense.  (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Missouri defensive end Brian Coulter (2) and defensive tackle Jaron Baston (96) are part of a unit that will have its hands full trying to shut down Ricky Dobbs and the Navy offense. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

ESPN blogger Tim Griffin touched on the upcoming Navy-Missouri matchup in the Texas Bowl in an article about “12 players on the spot during the bowls.” One of Griffin’s picks to be on the spot is the entire Missouri defensive line, who excelled at the end of the season, allowing only 52.4 yards rushing per game during the Tigers’ final five games.

But the Ricky Dobbs-led Navy triple option is a different animal than what the Tigers faced in the Big 12, and the Mids have shown the ability all year to give big-time programs like Ohio State and Notre Dame fits.

Writes Griffin:

… the Tigers’ defensive front will be facing a huge challenge in stopping Navy’s unique run-based offense in the Texas Bowl. The Midshipmen rank fourth nationally in rushing and are keyed by quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who averages 85.5 rushing yards per game and ranks second nationally with 24 rushing touchdowns.

Missouri’s defense is no doubt studying film from the Army-Navy game. Nobody — not Pitt, not Notre Dame, not Ohio State — except for the Black Knights held Navy scoreless in the first half this year. Army coach Rich Ellerson came into that game with a new alignment, and it kept the heavily favored Mids bogged down until they could make adjustments at halftime. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mizzou coaches will come up with in the 32 days they have to prepare for the Texas Bowl.

Been there, done that

It’s a measure of how far Navy’s program has come that it’s really no big deal anymore for them to be face a BCS team and not be at all awed by the larger, more talented program. This Annapolis Capital article explains Navy’s attitude when facing teams from major conferences, which has become somewhat old hat for many players. While the Mids have plenty of respect for the Tigers, nobody on the Navy sideline is going to be “awe-struck.”

“We have played a Big Ten team, a Big East team and an ACC team. Now we get to go against a Big 12 team. It’s just another tough opponent and a win would be another notch in the belt for this program,” [Senior guard Osei] Asante said.

Indeed, Navy went 2-2 against BCS teams this year, beating Notre Dame and Wake Forest and losing to Pittsburgh and Ohio State, both of whom will be playing in bowl games. And the matchup with Missouri will be the third time in the last four years that the Mids have matched up against a BCS team in a bowl game.

That’s not to say Navy doesn’t realize what a task lays ahead of them, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“This is one of the more prolific offenses we’ve ever faced. They’re right up there with Notre Dame as far as throwing the football,” linebacker Ross Pospisil told the Capital. “They have the best receiver in the country and their quarterback throws bullets in there.”


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