Pinkel owns up to bad coaching

Tigers coach wants more out of players and himself.
Tuesday, October 7, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:50 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

After a blowout loss to Kansas, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel took the blame for his team’s performance.

There was nothing unusual about that. Pinkel usually shoulders the blame for his team. On Monday, Pinkel was more direct about his shortcomings, saying he needed to improve his coaching like his players needed to improve their game.

It would be easy for him to blame his team, Pinkel said, but he prefers to look at himself first.

“If you lose a football game, obviously I didn’t coach well enough,” Pinkel said. “The first thing I do is point to myself. I just take responsibility for it and I expect my players to do the same.”

MCCOY BACK AT PRACTICE: On Sunday, senior tight end J.D. McCoy practiced for the first time since partially tearing the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee in the fourth quarter against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 20. McCoy suffered the injury when he caught a 4-yard pass on fourth down in the Tigers’ 41-40 overtime victory.

“I left it straight for about a week, a little over a week, and we starting bending it last Monday,” McCoy said. “It’s coming along real good.”

Junior Victor Sesay is No. 1 at tight end in this week’s depth chart. Sesay was a bright spot for the Tigers in their 35-14 loss to Kansas, catching three passes for 25 yards.

BYE-BYE REDSHIRT: Freshman receiver Brad Ekwerekwu made his debut against Kansas, entering the game in the second quarter. Ekwerekwu made no catches in limited action and is no longer eligible to redshirt this season.

“He’s a very mature young man and certainly a guy who can do some good things with the football in his hands,” receivers coach Andy Hill said. “We feel like if he’s ready to play then we are going to play him.”

Ekwerekwu has been No. 2 on the depth chart behind Darius Outlaw since the week before the Illinois game, but he has improved without the possibility of a redshirt.

“Obviously you have a lot more thoughts in your head now,” Ekwerekwu said. “You pay attention more, make mental reads better and quicker. You just get better and more prepared.”

Pinkel said he expects Ekwerekwu, who teammates call “Ek,” to help an ailing passing game. Missouri passed for a season-low 62 yards against Kansas. Ekwerekwu’s 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash could be one of the Tigers’ missing pieces in their air attack.

“He has done some good things there,” Pinkel said. “He’s got some real good skills. We expect to play him more this week. ”

PICKING OUT SOME TIPS: As a throng of reporters talked to quarterback Brad Smith on Monday, redshirt freshman Brian Smith stood close behind them and listened intently.

He grasped his hair pick like a tape recorder and furrowed his eyebrows. After a few minutes, he walked over and did the same with senior center A. J. Ricker.

Smith, a defensive end, didn’t ask his teammates any questions, but he said he was trying to learn some strategies for interviews from Brad Smith and Ricker, two interview pros.

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