Turnovers haunt Tigers in first two games

MU’s inability to take care of the football is unusual under Pinkel.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:15 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Since Gary Pinkel arrived at Missouri, the Tigers have been one of the best teams in the nation at not beating themselves, by committing penalties or committing turnovers.

Heading into the season, the Tigers led the nation with fewest turnovers since the beginning of the 2001 season, giving the football away only 41 times. Minnesota and Northern Illinois are second on the list with 51 giveaways.

These types of mistakes are what Pinkel refers to as “Missouri beating Missouri.”

This season has been a struggle for the Tigers to not beat themselves. Missouri has had five turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles, in two games. Last season, Missouri lost the football only 13 times in 13 games. The Tigers led the nation and set a school record with 12 turnovers in 2002.

The Tigers helped beat themselves Thursday when they committed three turnovers, none bigger than when Brad Smith was intercepted by Johnny Faulk at the 10-yard line. The Tigers’ offense had taken over at the 25, after Marcus King intercepted Aaron Leak.

“The one time we got the ball on the 25-yard line, it was a great opportunity, and we didn’t do anything with it,” Pinkel said. “That’s something you have to be able to do if you want to be a good football team.”

Smith, who threw six interceptions in each of his first two seasons, has thrown three this season. “I guess it’s just the mindset you have to have. It’s just attention to detail,” Smith said.

Two of Missouri’s running backs, Damien Nash and Marcus Woods, have lost fumbles. Woods fumbled on his first collegiate carry.

Penalty Problems

The three turnovers were not the only mistakes that hurt Missouri in the 24-14 loss. Missouri committed six penalties that cost key yards and stalled drives.

“We got ourselves with penalties and some long-yardage situations,” Pinkel said. “Which you get yourself in too many of those you reduce your chances of converting third downs.”

The Tigers were flagged only twice in the season-opening 52-20 win against Arkansas State on Sept. 4. The team’s two turnovers in the opener were both in the red zone, giving Arkansas State two great opportunities. MU’s defense held the Indians to three points off the miscues.

Pinkel hates penalties and turnovers, but he was probably most upset when Troy blocked a Brock Harvey punt.

“We had a punt blocked and that is inexcusable,” Pinkel said.

Pinkel said the block was a result of a missed assignment that has been corrected, but it still means the Tigers are not where he wants them to be.

“Those things can’t happen. I mean they just can’t happen if you want to be a good football team,” Pinkel said. “Obviously, I am remarkably disappointed and very, very frustrated.”

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