It took Missouri one drive to shake off the aftereffects from its loss to Troy.
Starting from the Tigers’ 20-yard line, running back Damien Nash carried for no gain. Quarterback Brad Smith hit Thomson Omboga for 2 yards. Smith scrambled left for 5 yards, then Brock Harvey punted.
Unlike they did against Troy, though, the Tigers’ offense didn’t panic, found near top form and cruised to a 48-0 win against Ball State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“First couple plays we had a couple mishaps, but we knew we would bounce back after that. We had to bounce back after that and get it going, and we did,” wide receiver Sean Coffey said.
The Tigers (2-1) seamlessly and efficiently moved the ball against a beleaguered Cardinals defense, gaining 471 yards. The Tigers became the second straight team to score more than 40 points against Cardinals. In the fourth quarter, nearly all the backups played.
Purdue defeated Ball State 59-7 and had 599 yards of total offense.
Smith, who gained 36 rushing yards at Troy, led the Tigers with 296 total yards. Smith also completed 18-of-32 passes and two touchdowns. It is the first time this season Smith hasn’t thrown an interception.
The effort, coming off the struggles at Troy, recovered the team’s confidence in its ability to be a top-notch unit.
“We just knew if we executed our stuff right, we would come out with a victory,” tight end Victor Sesay said. “It gives us a nice advantage going into these next two weeks. We’re going to get a lot of rest and get ready for Colorado.”
The defensive effort was also hard to overlook. The Tigers had their first shutout since they beat Eastern Illinois 37-0 in 2003. The Tigers held the Cardinals (0-3) to 142 total yards, their lowest output of the season.
“Anytime you can get a win after a loss, it builds up the confidence of the guys,” Smith said. “It was more than just what you saw on the field that changed, and that was a good thing.”
The offense got its jump start from Omboga on special teams. Omboga returned a Reggie Hodges punt 49 yards to the Ball State 33. Eight plays later, Joe Tantarelli opened the scoring with a 20-yard field goal.
On the first play of the second quarter, Damien Nash scored from two yards to cap a 10-play drive that covered 86 yards.
On the Tigers’ next possession, they went 91 yards in 12 plays to extend their lead to 17-0. Smith rushed for 29 yards on the drive and finished it with an impressive effort from 3 yards. He faked a handoff, rolled to his left, stiff armed Ball State’s Randall Moss at the 6 and easily jogged into the end zone.
After the two long touchdown drives, the Tigers didn’t need much time to score their next two touchdowns. Seventeen seconds, exactly. Smith hit Nash for a 43-yard touchdown pass, and after a fumble, Smith hit Coffey on a 15-yard fade pass to make it 31-0.
“I feel good that we responded,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “We’ve got a long way to go to be a good football team, but I think we have a lot better team. I thought we responded well, and I’m pleased with that.”
After the loss to Troy, the offense had received criticism for its bland play calling, but the Tigers used several trick plays, which were, for the most part, unsuccessful.
Smith said he hopes more trick plays appear in the game plan against Colorado.
“We just have fun on those,” he said. “It just loosens everybody up.”
In the first quarter, Smith threw to Brad Ekwerekwu after lining up behind only two lineman and Ekwerekwu. Omboga carried the ball on a reverse, and Smith threw deep to Coffey on a flea-flicker in the second quarter. In the third, Nash completed a screen to Smith for a 5-yard gain.
“We felt like we let our fan base down by going down there and getting upset,” Omboga said. “We just practiced all week hard and knew we still had a good team, and we let a chance get by. We had just had to go back and get it.”