Tigers find room to run

Missouri boasts the sixth-best rushing game in the country.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:00 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

On any given play, chances are more than favorable that Missouri will run the ball.

The Tigers gain 235 rushing yards per game, No. 6 in the country. Their pass offense is No. 95, averaging 174 yards.

In the Tigers’ win against Texas A&M on Saturday, they gained 362 rushing yards compared to only 89 passing yards.

Gary Pinkel
“We want balance, it’s in your favor if you can do both well,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “Last week, I think we had a tendency to lean a little bit more in that direction, and it worked, but balance is still what’s the right thing to do.”

Pinkel will take a strong running game instead of a passing one any day, though.

“I think a lot of times when you’re running the ball well, you ask any defensive coordinator, the thing that’s more difficult for a defense is if they can’t stop the run,” Pinkel said. “When the running’s working we have a tendency to lean on it. Maybe too much.”

The Tigers’ Brad Smith-centered offense has a lot to do with that. Smith is third in the Big 12 Conference in rushing with 1,089 yards.

Smith’s tendency to often keep the ball instead of passing satisfies Pinkel.

“A lot of times he pulls it down and goes, and that’s fine, because he makes a lot of yards,” Pinkel said. “A lot of sportscasters sit back and say he’s got to stay in the pocket, stay in the pocket.

“I tell Brad, ‘We’ll tell you when you have to stay in the pocket or not. If you’re breaking out of protection, then we’ll let you know that. Don’t listen to anybody else.’ That’s a great threat on defenses.”

Abron closes in

Tailback Zack Abron needs 83 rushing yards against Kansas State to pass Brock Olivo’s career record of 3,026.

Breaking the record against the Wildcats will be tough for Abron, though. Kansas State’s defense is No. 17 in Division I against the run, allowing 107.2 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry.

Abron set career records for scoring and touchdowns against Texas A&M when he scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It was his 39th touchdown and put his point total at 234, passing former quarterback Corby Jones in both categories.

As has been his custom, Abron said he isn’t thinking much about the record, but the thought of winning the Big 12 North is at the front of his mind.

“It don’t matter if I don’t even break the record,” Abron said. “I just want to win.”

Currying favor

Defensive back Terrence Curry isn’t back in Dellwood, Mo., but he is home again.

Curry made his first start at cornerback, his original position, since the Michigan State game in 2000 on Saturday.

Curry is at the top of the depth chart this week ahead of A.J. Kincade. At various times this season, Curry has played wide receiver, free safety and outside safety before moving back to corner.

“(Kansas State) is going to be huge,” Curry said. “I have been sitting, waiting my turn, but a big opportunity like this; what else can you ask for?”

First half huge

Missouri has made a habit of winning games it leads at halftime.

Since Pinkel became coach Nov. 30, 2000, the Tigers are 13-0 and 7-0 this season when they hold a halftime edge.

When MU has trailed at the half, it has gone 2-17 under Pinkel.

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