Gary Pinkel has been on both sides of fourth-quarter comebacks many times, but J.D. McCoy’s catch on Saturday was one of the most impressive he has seen.
With 3:12 remaining in No. 23 Missouri’s 41-40 overtime win against Middle Tennessee State, McCoy, a senior tight end, had a fourth-down reception that brought ball to the Tiger’s 39.
“That was one of the greatest fourth-down catches I’ve ever seen since I’ve been coaching,” Pinkel said.
With the Tigers on their 35 needing 2 yards for a first down, McCoy ran to the right and looked over his right shoulder for the pass from quarterback Brad Smith. The ball was behind and to the left of McCoy, but he caught the pass between defenders for the 4-yard gain.
“He’s got the whole program in his hands if he drops that football,” Pinkel said. “If you’re the greatest receiver in the world, 70 percent of the time you drop that football, 80 percent of the time.”
McCoy did not immediately get up after the catch and had to be helped off the field. Afterward, he said he sprained his right knee, but expects to be able to practice again the week before the Oct. 11 game against Nebraska.
“The way he caught it, he just laid his body out and sacrificed it for the team,” Smith said. “The whole team was on his shoulders at that point.”
McCoy also caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter Saturday, giving him three on the season, but Pinkel said he was proud of McCoy for his late game heroics in particular.
“Without that fourth-down catch, nothing happens. It’s over. It’s done,” Pinkel said.
INFRACTION REACTION:After Missouri’s overtime touchdown, Smith’s 3-yard run to tie the score at 40, officials whistled the Tigers for unsportsmanlike conduct citing excessive celebration. After the game, wide receiver Thomson Omboga admitted he was flexing his arms to pose for a photo.
The penalty required kicker Mike Matheny to attempt an extra point from 36 yards.
After reviewing a tape of the game, Pinkel said Monday he thought Omboga’s celebration was minor.
“It’s real clear in college football that you can’t have any kind of display that kind of points to yourself,” Pinkel said. “…To think that we could lose the game on that is amazing.”
Pinkel said he will ask Big 12 Conference officials to review the call.
“My only concern is the consistency,” he said. “That call could control the football game. If you’re going to do that call, do it every week to every team, or don’t do it. I’d just as soon they’d do it every week to every team, but I’ve been in this league for 21/2 years and I have seen that very inconsistently called.”
QUARTERBACK BLOCK?:So far this season, Smith has shown teams he can beat them by running or by throwing. On Saturday, Smith displayed another threat.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Smith handed the ball off to tailback Zack Abron at the MU 31. While trailing Abron, Smith threw a block and knocked the Middle Tennessee State defender to the turf.
Abron, who had a career-long 64-yard rush on the play, thought wide receiver Sean Coffey made the block for him.
“I didn’t even think it was Brad,” Abron said. “He did a great job in throwing my block. It was a great block.”
For the play, Smith received the team’s weekly “big hit” award.
“I just told him I don’t want to give him any more awards for hitting,” Pinkel said.
JACKSON BACK SOON:Freshman Xzavie Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end, resumed practicing a week ago after he broke his foot during the preseason. Although it won’t be this week against Kansas, Pinkel said Jackson will play this season.
“He’s getting a little bit stronger all the time,” Pinkel said. “He’s been able to plant, drive, change direction. I think that’s the confidence level he needs to get back to.”
Pinkel said he had planned for Jackson to forego his redshirt season before the injury. Jackson said his coaches will decide whether he will play
“The strength and conditioning coaches have been pushing me real hard,” Jackson said.