At 3-4, Missouri football team looks to improve after break

Saturday, October 13, 2012 | 8:41 p.m. CDT; updated 12:26 a.m. CDT, Monday, October 15, 2012
Fans stand in the rain in the first quarter of the Missouri vs. Alabama game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

COLUMBIA — It was pouring. Alabama had just gone up 27-0. And the Missouri football team needed a break.

Lightning struck.

With 8:40 left in the second quarter, the game between the Tigers and the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide was suspended.

Usually, SEC rules don't allow fans to re-enter stadium, but in this case, that rule was waived. But why would Missouri fans want to come back?

Even at their best, the Tigers would have a hard time keeping up with the Crimson Tide. This Missouri team was far from its best in a 42-10 loss. Even the break during the game couldn't save the Tigers in this one.

T.J. Moe, normally a reliable receiver, dropped a pass on a third down.

Heavy rain was soaking fans. Tackles caused large splashes on the field.

The Missouri band was playing "Till the World Ends" by Britney Spears as the Tigers were getting blown out.

Most fans used the lightning as an excuse to head out early. They needed a break.

Even though Missouri's defense had a stronger effort in the second half, Alabama had more than put the game away before the delay.

Even Missouri coach Gary Pinkel admitted that the defense's strong performance after the break didn't matter much because the offense failed to do anything against the Alabama defense. The Tigers gained just 129 yards of offense in the game.

During the delay, Alabama fans and a few dedicated Missouri fans hid under the shelter of the stadium. Others gathered under tents in the parking lot.

One Missouri fan, on his way back up to his suite, saw two men carry a keg of beer into the elevator.

"Take that to the Missouri coaches. Stat," he joked.

They could have used it.

In the Missouri locker room, Pinkel fumed. He screamed at his team, using plenty of expletives.

Pinkel and his team are ready to finally have a week off.

"Heal. That will be a good start," Moe said. "Try to turn over a new leaf here."

Other Missouri players felt the same way. They want to come back from the break with a new mindset.

"Right now is when we really need to just draw the line in the sand and be like 'Hey let's get going, let's finish off the season strong and let's get to a bowl game,'" Missouri wide receiver L'Damian Washington said.

Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson wants to improve, but he didn't try to sugarcoat the situation.

"I'm disappointed. Period. I mean, we don't just want to play in the SEC. We want to beat teams in the SEC. Period," Richardson said. "There's no, 'Oh, we gave it a good run against Alabama.' No, we want to go kick the s--- out of Alabama."

Richardson also agrees that Missouri must improve after the week off.

"Either that or we're going to keep getting L's," he said.

After the delay, only the southwest corner of Memorial Stadium, the Alabama section, was anything close to full. The rain had mostly stopped. About 75 percent of the seats in the stadium were empty. The No. 1 team in the nation was playing and hardly anyone was still around to watch.

The rain picked up again. But the fans left in the stands didn't mind it. They were clearly committed to staying at that point.

The final minutes dragged on. Tight end Eric Waters was injured and carried off the field on a stretcher. Pinkel said it was precautionary.

According to his father, Eric Waters was admitted to University Hospital and is now stable. He suffered a back injury but can move all extremities.

The few remaining fans watched the Tigers jog off the field as the game ended. They applauded as the final 30 seconds ran off the clock.

They could finally go home.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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