Tag Archives: Andrew Jones

Furman: An unfamiliar foe with an unfamiliar nickname

Not exactly sure what a Paladin is?  Neither were the Mizzou players.

The Furman Paladins, a team from the Southern Conference, aren't exactly an opponent everybody's heard of.

The Furman Paladins, a team from the Southern Conference, aren't exactly an opponent everybody's heard of.

As the week progresses and the Tigers’ troubles against Bowling Green fade further into the rear view mirror, I figured it’s time to start looking ahead to Saturday’s game against the Furman Paladins…Wait a sec, the Paladins?  First of all, yes, that seriously is their nickname, secondly, what the heck is a Paladin?

College football is home to some great nicknames.  Missouri has faced off against everyone from Gamecocks to Jayhawks, from Red Raiders to Blue Raiders.  They’ve played Racers and Rebels, Lobos and Longhorns, and Red Wolves and Redhawks.  But not once in its long history has the Missouri Tigers football team faced the Paladins.  So we thought we’d ask some of the guys, “What exactly is a Paladin?”

“[Their mascot] Is the who?” senior defensive tackle Jaron Baston said pausing to laugh.  “I’ve never heard of that before in my life.  A paladin?” he repeated slowly.

“Maybe it’s some sort of ancient warrior or fighter or something like that.  Is that what it is?”

Um, sorry Jaron, not exactly.

Defensive tackle Jaron Baston wasn't the only one who was unfamiliar with the Paladins. (Photo from kansascity.com)

Defensive tackle Jaron Baston wasn't the only one who was unfamiliar with the Paladins. (Photo from kansascity.com)

Sophomore tight end Andrew Jones thought he might have the inside scoop on the Paladins after reviewing some film earlier in the day.

“I was just watching film and I seen it written in their endzone,” he said.  His response sounded promising.  That is until he continued. “But I don’t know what it is.  I saw a horse thing running around on their field, but yeah I have no idea.”

Sorry Andrew, a paladin isn’t exactly a horse thing either.

Coming off a stellar rushing performance against Bowling Green, we thought maybe running back Derrick Washington’s good fortune’s might continue.  However, he was also unsure of the Furman mascot.

“No, I have no clue,” he replied with a laugh.  “Do you know what it is?  I can’t even guess.”

Hopefully for Mizzou, Washington can get past the Furman D better than he got around answering our question.

Finally, we approached senior captain Sean Weatherspoon.  Perhaps he would know what a paladin is.  He quickly told us otherwise.

“I have no idea,” he said.  “I’ve got to do a little more homework to find that out man.  I’ve never heard of that, but my mom did actually go to Furman for a semester.  I’ve never asked her, I’m about to call her and find out today though.

Any guesses Spoon?

“No man, I don’t even want to go there.”

According to the Oxford dictionary a paladin is, “a knight renowned for heroism and chivalry.”

On the football field the Paladins are a strong FCS team.  They are 2-0 this season and 58-29 all time under coach Bobby Lamb, who is in his 8th year with Furman.  This week they received votes in the FCS coaches poll and would be ranked 30th if the rankings continued.

However, Missouri is the first FBS team the Paladins will face this season and playing at “The Zou,” should be a little different for them than playing in front of 11,000 at Chattanooga as they did a week ago.

So no matter if you think the Paladins are ancient warriors as Baston guessed or some type of panther like senior Brian Coulter suggested, the bottom line is the Paladins should be nothing but the Tigers’ next ‘W’ on the schedule.

-MG

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Reflections on Mizzou Before We Kickoff

 

While I may be split as to which side will prevail on Saturday, I am certain that Mizzou football will be better than the doubters think.

While I may be split as to which side will prevail on Saturday, I am certain that Mizzou football will be better than the doubters think. (Photo by Chris Lee, STL Today)

            Yep, I will graciously confess that, until about two weeks ago, I was one of the individuals that the previous author eluded to when denouncing that this year’s Missouri football team is so different than last year’s to have any reasonable expectations for high success.  The 2009 team is lacking many of the tangible assets that gave the 2007-2008 squads such fruition.  The team is lacking proven superstars.  No more Chase Daniel, no more Jeremy Maclin, no more Chase Coffman, and “no mo” Willy Mo. 

While star power has diminished on the roster, it has also diminished in the booth.  Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen booked it to Laramie to begin a horseshoe business (and head Wyoming’s football program), while defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus ran to the NFL.  With their departures came two new familiar faces.  Commanding the offensive side of the ball is Dave Yost, the former Missouri quarterbacks coach who looks more like he belongs at afternoon meetings on the beach scoping swells with Laird Hamilton than he does scoping Big 12 defenses.  Dave Steckel, the muscular linebackers coach is taking over as defensive coordinator for Eberflus. 

Would you rather have this guy coaching your surf club or your football team?  I will take football.

Would you rather have this guy coaching your surf club or your football team? I will take football. (Photo by L.G. Patterson, AP)

            With all of these losses from a year ago, it would be silly to put any stock into this year’s Missouri squad, wouldn’t it?  Two weeks ago, my answer would have been yes.  I was commanding the bandwagon of doubters, sipping on ‘haterade’ and just wishing that the ‘ole boys could come back for one last season; one last shot at a Big 12 Championship.  The news of Sheldon Richardson being academically ineligible to attend the university had me listening to Adam Lambert’s gloomy version of ‘Mad World’ for weeks.  I would have never even dreamt of saying that Mizzou could knock off Illinois, who albeit struggled last year, still has a boatload of talent returning this season.

            Finally, after weeks of swimming in a sea of doubt, I woke up from the doldrums.  I attended Mizzou training camp scrimmages and saw the potential that this year’s team has.  Blaine Gabbert looks like he is the real deal.  At 6’5”, 240 lbs. Gabbert has the NFL body that Chase Daniel didn’t have, and the quickness that every coach dreams of having in a signal caller.

Gabbert has the body to run over people, if necessary.

Blaine Gabbert has the body to run over people, if necessary. (Photo by Julia Robinson, Columbia Daily Tribune.)

Gabbert is not alone, however.  Danario Alexander will be his primary target, and rumors have swirled saying that some players think Alexander could be better than Maclin, if healthy.  Well, Danario is healthy now, so let the debate begin. 

Derrick Washington returns.  De’Vion Moore will have an increased role.  Andrew Jones has the potential to become the next great tight end at ‘Tight End U.” 

Sean Weatherspoon is no longer sandwiched between talented defensive stars in Ziggy Hood and William Moore.  But, Spoon does seem hungrier than ever and he put on the weight over the summer to crack enough hard hits to make up for their losses.

I do not want to run through the whole roster and tell you who I think can replace holes from last year’s team.  That would just bore you, and considering that the opener against Illinois is tomorrow night, I’m sure you all are already clued in.

What I’m trying to accomplish with this elegantly scribed column is that Mizzou football is not as destitute as people like Kirk Herbstreit think (in case you didn’t hear, Herbstreit picked Mizzou as his No. 1 team on the move down in 2009.) 

Gary Pinkel has his own eye for talent.

Gary Pinkel has his own eye for talent. (Midwest Sports fans photo)

While it may not protrude as much as in the past couple years, Mizzou’s talent is still there.  You just have to look a little harder and give some of the younger guys a chance.  If anything, I have always thought that it is Mizzou’s system that makes players great.  Gary Pinkel does an excellent job at developing players and recruiting for his system.  So, while there isn’t a plethora of four and five star recruits distributed across the roster, I trust what the coaching staff is doing.

Don’t think too long and hard about predictions for tomorrow’s game with Illinois.  It will drive you crazy.  Trust me.  I have hopped from one side of the fence to another for weeks trying to figure out this one.  I am settling on, “It’s gonna be a good game.” 

If the talent-laden Illinois team shows up in full force, then Mizzou will have some trouble.  Arrelious Benn is as dominant receiver as any in the country, and if Juice Williams can get him the ball without making too many mistakes, then Missouri will need to adjust effectively if they want to succeed.  The Illinois team may look better on paper, but all too often, game are won with intangibles like leadership, strategy, and aggressiveness.  As we saw last season with Illinois, a team with Rose Bowl talent can easily become a 5-7 team if not coached effectively. 

Arrelious Benn should be lockdown target No. 1 for Mizzou's defense on Saturday.

WR Arrelious Benn should be lockdown target No. 1 for Mizzou's defense on Saturday. (Athlon Sports photo)

Mizzou is entering this season extremely hungry, determined to prove that there will not be as big of a drop off in achievement as everyone thinks, if any.  One more thing: After the crew here at the Columns told Sean Weatherspoon about Herbstreit’s comments, he said that he will deliver one hell of a pregame speech on Saturday and keep the ESPN analyst’s comments in mind.  As far as I’m concerned, I would not want to be running out on offense to line up against a defense that was just motivated by Spoon, who jokingly said that “some tears might be involved” in his pregame hollering. 

-PF