Tag Archives: Jaron Baston

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

Mizzou makes a statement

Missouri silences critics in blowout of Illinois

Jared Perry and the Missouri offense could not be stopped on Saturday. (AP photo)

Jared Perry and the Missouri offense could not be stopped on Saturday. (AP photo)

The Missouri football players had heard all the doubts.  They had seen all the underwhelming predictions.  They had heard about all the critics.  And in just over three hours they managed to silence all of them.  In an opening game demolition of Illinois, Missouri made its statement.  They made it loud and clear.  Missouri football is here to stay.

“All I know is we bust our butts,” said defensive tackle Jaron Baston.  “We want to prove to the world that Mizzou football is here to stay.”

We are only one game into the 2009 season, but so far, that’s exactly what the Tigers have done.  Already critics are backpedaling.  ESPN writer Tim Griffin, who was less than kind to Missouri this off-season wrote on Sunday:

“We might have written off the Tigers’ chances to contend in the North Division a little too early if Saturday’s performance is any indication.”

Monday at media day, Baston joined in on ripping another ESPN writer, Kirk Herbstreit.  Herbstreit had predicted that Missouri was the number one team on the decline this season.  Baston made a point Monday to poke fun at him.

“Somebody (talking about Herbstreit), said we were the first to go down or something like that,” Baston said with a smile on his face.  “Hey, I guess he did a good job of making that decision or whatever he said,” the starting tackle continued jokingly.

The players were expecting to beat Illinois, but not even linebacker Sean Weatherspoon could have predicted the total beat down that Mizzou handed the Illini.

“I expected it to be a better game,” Weatherspoon said.  “I thought it’d be a lot tougher.   But when you go out there and prepare the way we did, you can’t be surprised when it goes like that.”

In case you missed it, the “like that,” that ‘Spoon’ was referring to, was a complete dismantling of an Illinois team that was supposed to be the program’s most talented roster in years.

On offense, defense, and special teams, Missouri was completely dominant.  They made a veteran Illinois team look ill prepared, demoralized, and just downright bad.

When first time starter Blaine Gabbert wasn’t distributing passes all over the field, he was making plays with his feet.  When a clearly improved Missouri secondary wasn’t forcing Juice Williams into bad throws, the defensive line was harassing him.  As former Missouri standout Jeremy Maclin told Weatherspoon following the game, Mizzou’s performance, “Almost brought tears to his eyes.”

Blaine Gabbert was the Big 12's highest rated passer in week one. (AP photo)

Blaine Gabbert was the Big 12's highest rated passer in week one. (AP photo)

Following Missouri’s drubbing of Illinois it would be easy for the team to get overconfident.  However, Head Coach Gary Pinkel is making sure that will not happen as Mizzou prepares for its home opener this Saturday against Bowling Green.

“Every player has things they can do to improve,” Pinkel said.  “We’re not good enough to be overconfident.”

After yet another victory in the Arch Rivalry, the Tigers are looking forward to returning home to “The Zou.”

The University is trying to get the nickname, “The Zou,” to catch on this year.  The nickname has been added to the new scoreboard and the sides of the stadium.  Whether you call it Faurot Field or The Zou, Pinkel just hopes it is filled this weekend.

“I’ll be real disappointed if we don’t have 70,000 people there in gold,” he said.  We’re trying to create that as one of the toughest places to play in the United States.”

Weatherspoon agrees with his coach about Saturday’s attendance.

“I’ll be disappointed as well [if there aren’t 70,000 in attendance].

If Missouri plays like they did last Saturday, not only will they not be disappointed about attendance, but also their outcome on the field.

-MG

“The old Danario’s back.”

"The old Danario" torched Nebraska for 56 yards and a touchdown in 2007. (AP photo)

"The old Danario" torched Nebraska for 56 yards and a touchdown in 2007. (AP photo)

The 2009 Missouri Tigers football team resembles the 2008 Missouri Tigers football team about as much as Boise State’s turf resembles natural grass.  Sure there are some similarities, but the bottom line is, it’s different.

Last year, everyone knew what to expect heading into the Illinois game.  We knew Chase Daniel would be solid at quarterback.  We knew Chase Coffman was one of the best tight ends in the country.  We knew Jeremy Maclin was going to be an All-American candidate at wide receiver.

Those areas are all thought to be question marks this year.  However, if you ask members of the current Tigers team, they’ll tell you they once again have an All-American at wide receiver.  That receiver is Danario Alexander.

“The old Danario’s back,” coach Gary Pinkel said.

If you’re an Illinois supporter that is not what you want to hear.

The old Danario is the man who caught nine passes for 82 yards against the Illini in 2007 before suffering a wrist injury.  The old Danario is the man who was originally listed ahead of Jeremy Maclin on the depth chart.  The old Danario is the man who hauled in a 74-yard touchdown in the Sun Bowl as a true freshman.  The old Danario is a man defenses do not want to face this season.

Just ask Missouri defensive tackle Jaron Baston.  He agrees with coach Pinkel that Alexander is on the verge of a great season.

“Oh man that guy is amazing on the field,” Baston said when asked about Alexander.  “He’s athletic.  I’ve never seen in-person an athlete that can do what he can do as far as agility, jumping.”  No, Baston did not just have his eyes closed for the Maclin era.  He is just that serious about Alexander’s resurgence.

“We had an All-American man, but as far as an overall receiver, [Alexander] is special,” Baston continued.  “I think that he has the size, the speed, athleticism to be just as good or even better than some of those All-American guys we’ve had.”

Photo from stltoday.com

Photo from stltoday.com

The question for Alexander has never been his talent.  It’s been his health.  But now 100 percent healthy for the first time since 2007, Alexander is anxious to hit the field on Saturday.

“I’m just looking forward to playing,” Alexander said.

So while people will continue to discuss the differences in this year’s Missouri team from last year’s, those differences are not always a negative.  The Tigers are hoping one difference will include a healthy Alexander for an entire season.

If that happens, the so-called drop off in talent at wide receiver might not be as extreme as everyone expects.  Tiger fans, we only have a few more hours before we find out.

-MG