5 KEYS ANSWERED
1. MISSOURI MUST STOP BALL STATE LINEBACKER LORENZO SCOTT FROM PRESSURING BRAD SMITH. Scott caught Smith once and finished with 15 tackles, second most in the game. Other than Scott’s first-quarter sack, MU’s offensive line kept the Cardinals’ blitzes in check.
2. THE TIGERS MUST MIX UP THEIR OFFENSE AND PASS DOWNFIELD. Together, Smith and Sonny Riccio passed for 171 yards, 69 more than Smith’s total against Illinois, completing 18-of-29. Thomson Omboga responded well to the change, catching six passes for 70 yards.
3. MU NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO AVOID MISTAKES. Although they had no turnovers for the second straight game, the Tigers committed five penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Nino Williams II after he made a tackle on a Ball State receiver who was overthrown.
4. MU MUST TREAT BALL STATE AS IF THE CARDINALS ARE IN THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE. Although the Cardinals have a high school-size stadium, the Tigers did not ease their intensity. Pinkel emphasized preparation this week, and the Tigers listened.
5. THE TIGERS’ SECONDARY MUST HOLD BALL STATE’S PASS-HEAVY OFFENSE TO FEWER THAN 250 YARDS PASSING. Cardinal quarterbacks Andy Roesch and Talmadge Hill combined to throw for 203 yards. Roesch suffered a slight shoulder separation.
HIGHS & LOWS
MU’S RUNNING GAME: The Tigers rushed for 290 yards, and tailback Damien Nash made his long-awaited contribution. Tyrone Roberson also played, rushing five times for 17 yards.
THOMSON OMBOGA: After missing the final three games of last season because of suspension, Omboga seems to have changed his “Me first” attitude. Coach Gary Pinkel called it a “personality change.” Omboga led the Tigers with six receptions for 70 yards, despite being tightly covered for most of the game.
BLOCKED PUNT: The block and recovery by Ball State’s David Gater led to the Cardinals’ touchdown. Pinkel said it was “an indictment” against him as a coach.
PENALTIES: The Tigers were whistled five times and moved backward 40 yards, and free safety Nino Williams II received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he flexed after making a tackle.