We will dub this “The Aftermath,” or a few random thoughts from our first full weekend of the football trifecta – prep, college and pro – in the Ozarks …
*I’m sure Gary Pinkel knows a little bit more about it than I do, so please consider this as merely a request from an entire region of football fans tucked away in one corner of the state …
Get Dorial Green-Beckham on the freaking field.
The former Hillcrest star caught one pass for 5 yards and was on the field for only 23 of 60 plays for the Tigers, including just six in the second half. I really don’t care about the usual coach-speak of breaking them in slowly, he’s a freshman, etc., etc., etc., because here is what I know:
He’s the biggest, fastest and strongest receiver you’ve got. Even if you don’t throw it to him and instead use him as a decoy of sorts, the opposing defense is going to have to account for him wherever he goes, opening up some other avenues.
Mizzou won a major recruiting battle for his services, presumably, to bring him in to become a difference-maker. The kind of athlete you’re going to need ON the field to beat the better teams in the SEC. So please, let him at least learn on the job, between the lines. The nation’s top recruit ought to be able to play, and play often, from Day One. You think he’d be sitting out two-thirds of the plays at Oklahoma or Arkansas?
*Not to kick a man when he’s down, but Pinkel’s decision to try the fake punt was one of the most senseless I’ve seen in years of watching college football … and an instance where the risk-reward factor was clearly leaning more toward the former.
Somehow convert it on 4th-and-11 from your own 35 early in the fourth against a fast Georgia defense with your not-exactly-fleet-afoot punter toting the rock for the entire distance, and you’re still down by four (24-20) and around midfield with half the field to go against Jarvis Jones and Co.
Fail, and you’ve given Georgia the ultimate short field … not to mention a major momentum boost on the road. You’ve also briefly stunned and silenced your dumbfounded fans who had given the Tigers a lift for three quarters.
It would have been a good time to just play conservative, “old man football,” punted it, hoped your defense continued to hold and get better field position for the next drive. Sure, it’s easy to say now in hindsight, but it would also seem to be pretty easy to assume in foresight, too.
I’m not sure we’d have all said “genius call” if it had worked. Probably something more like, “that man is insane.”
*Caught the Branson at Nixa football game Saturday afternoon, one that was postponed from Friday’s stormy night.
Two prevailing thoughts, besides the fact that Nixa – a 35-2 winner – is 3-0 and pretty darn good yet again …
We need more Saturday afternoon high school football games. As much as Friday night has been the staple, more schools ought to schedule the Saturday matinee events occasionally just to mix things up from the ordinary routine, and because it felt like football, too.
And oh my … Nixa has created a fun, college-type atmosphere with its home football games.
From the new artificial turf surface, to a large, blow-up thingy for a run-through - with each individual starter announced by their seemingly Red-Bull enhanced PA guy before sprinting through their teammates - to all sorts of in-game promotions, an Eagles-wear shopping area, etc … the folks at NHS are setting the bar high.
And they’ve done so, too, with the creation of their own athletics website, www.nixaathletics.net … a college-caliber site that will most certainly lead the more booster-supported and certainly competitive neighbors in the COC higher-rent district soon to follow suit.
I’m predicting the days of the high school Sports Information Director are not too far in the distant future … And of course, soon after that, some local TV station in the heat of the current arms race of prep sports media coverage will unveil its own new Red Zone Channel on Friday nights of live look-ins into prep games.
Or, if you will, the “Ned Zone Channel. “
You know who will host.
*Arkansas’ pain on Saturday in the form of its shocking overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe was largely inflicted by a guy with Ozarks’ ties. The Warhawks’ head coach, Todd Berry, formerly was the boss at Illinois State and routinely played Missouri State in Gateway action. But he’s also the son of the late Willard High football coach Rueben Berry, who no doubt was beaming from above over that outcome.
No way not to classify that whole scene for the Razorbacks than an utter nightmare.
The loss not only inexplicably dropped them completely out of the AP Top 25 – seriously, are we to believe they’re still not better than at least half the teams in it - but also comes before they entertain defending national champion Alabama this Saturday in Fayetteville … and with Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson (concussion) questionable.
And just when Arkansas fans thought the Bobby Petrino mess last spring was as bad as it could get …
*Speaking of Missouri State … hard to imagine, short of an upset victory at one of the two stops, that the Bears could have come out their two trips to playing the big boys any better than they did.
In their 51-9 loss at No. 22 Kansas State in the opener, and Saturday’s 35-7 setback at No. 23 Louisville, the Bears hung tough and represented themselves well, not to mention, came out of each game mostly healthy and with a sizeable guaranteed payday for the budget.
The other added bonus … while the Missouri Valley is the best FCS conference in the land, there is nothing athletically coach Terry Allen’s squad will see the remainder of the year that’s better than they’ve already seen, starting with Saturday’s home opener against a Murray State team that lost 69-3 at Florida State in the opener, then fell 42-20 at home to Central Arkansas on Saturday.
The K-State loss looked even better, too, given that the Wildcats ran The U (Miami) out of the same stadium in Manhattan Saturday with a 52-13 whipping.
*I wonder if the NFL would consider allowing the two Missouri teams to combine different facets of their teams to form just one team, maybe the Chams or the Riefs?
I’d take Sam Bradford and put him with the rest of the Chiefs offense, take the new and improved Rams defense and take my chances against most teams.
Hard to have confidence in KC when, as a fan, you spend your entire afternoon hoping Matt Cassel simply doesn’t screw things up … usually, to no avail.
*It was neat on Sunday to see the Eagles-Browns game – won by Philly 17-16 – come down to two plays by two guys with Ozarks connections in the final minute.
Clay Harbor, the former Bears star tight end, caught the game-winning TD one play after former Waynesville High star L.J. Fort – an undrafted linebacker from Northern Iowa now starting for Cleveland – had a potential game-clinching interception slip through his fingertips.
Great to see the Ozarks represented in the pros regardless of the outcome.
Scott Puryear was a long-time sports columnist for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow him on twitter at @scottpuryear.