Mistakes plaguing Missouri

Coach Pinkel says his team continues to make too many mistakes.
Thursday, August 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:02 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coach Gary Pinkel’s opinion of the Missouri football team hasn’t changed in the past four days.

He isn’t impressed.

On Wednesday, the Tigers held their final scrimmage before opening the season against Illinois in St. Louis on Aug. 30. Pinkel didn’t see enough improvement since Saturday’s scrimmage, after which he said his team was “OK.”

“I just thought it was average,” Pinkel said Wednesday. “I thought it was an average scrimmage all the way around. I’m disappointed. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Pinkel said he is most disappointed in the lack of consistency from the No. 1 offense and defense. Without citing specific examples, he said the Tigers are making too many mistakes with only nine days before the Illinois game.

“I can act like everything’s pretty and nice and everything’s good and exciting, but I don’t really feel that way,” Pinkel said. “You name it, I’m concerned.”

There is competition at several positions, and Pinkel said the new depth chart will be released Monday.

“The competition’s about over with now,” Pinkel said. “Now you’ve got to declare who the guys are and get ready to play.”

Quarterback is one position that is not up for grabs. Sophomore starter Brad Smith played two series against the second-team defense, going 7-for-9 passing for 45 yards.

On Smith’s first drive, the No. 1 offense started at its 43 and drove to the 3 before junior tailback Tyrone Roberson fumbled. Roberson has split time with sophomore Damien Nash on the No. 1 offense since senior starter Zack Abron suffered a sprained left ankle Saturday. Abron has worn a cast this week, but it comes off today.

“He might be able to go great on Friday, he might not go until Sunday, he might not go next week,” Pinkel said. “I don’t know.”

Neither Roberson nor Nash has taken full advantage of Abron being sidelined, for each has played well at times, but both have struggled with fumbles. Roberson ran for 24 yards on five carries, but his fumble stopped the first-team offense’s best drive.

“I thought he did some good things,” Pinkel said. “There are some things he needs to improve on.”

Pinkel said he felt the same way about Nash, who ran for 27 yards on seven carries.

“I thought he did some good things,” Pinkel said. “There are some things he needs to improve on.”

Nash did improve since Saturday, when he fumbled twice. On Wednesday, he was sure-handed and broke a 13-yard run that nearly went much longer. Nash swept left, broke three tackles and faked out two more would-be tacklers before getting hit low and taken down.

“I had one man to beat,” Nash said. “I didn’t even see him. If I would have seen him, it was off to the races. I should have tried to run him over instead of trying to make him miss. I saw him too late. It won’t happen again.”

As was the case Saturday, turnovers plagued the offense. The defense forced three fumbles, one of which was lost, and cornerback Marcus King intercepted a Sonny Riccio pass.

“They’re doing a good job of making us look bad,” Nash said. “But as an offense, we cannot have fumbles or we will lose games. We’ve been fumbling, having interceptions and dropping passes. Those are all three zeros that we can’t have.”

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