After an uninspired effort against Kansas on Saturday, the Missouri football team still had no answers Monday to what went wrong, particularly with its running game.
The Tigers finished with negative 6 yards rushing. Quarterback Brad Smith was held to negative 41 yards.
Even wide receiver Thomson Omboga, who usually is not short on words, was at a loss to identify the problem. Omboga said he had no answer for Missouri’s offensive inefficiency.
Running back Damien Nash, who paced the Missouri’s offense with 38 yards rushing, said the main culprit in a laundry list of problems was Missouri’s lack of desire.
“(Kansas) had a good game plan, more enthusiasm, more intensity, more everything,” Nash said. “They wanted it more, that was the big thing.”
Still, Nash said the Jayhawks plan for stopping the Tigers was nothing new. Missouri was prepared for everything Kansas did on defense; a lack of executing undercut the Tigers’ offense.
Senior guard Joe Gianino also said the Tigers were prepared for Kansas’ defense and expected Missouri to beat the Jayhawks up front. Instead, Kansas dominated the line of scrimmage and put constant pressure on Smith.
Gianino said the large deficit was the reason the Tigers lost yards, because sacks are normal when any team attempts to pass the ball so many times. Missouri threw the ball 40 times and Smith was sacked on six other plays, which led to the Tigers losing 53 yards.
Missouri was forced to pass when Kansas went up 28-0 with more than 11 minutes left in the third quarter. Coach Gary Pinkel said after the game that the hole led to Missouri changing its plan, which led to negative yardage.
“We got out of our game plan today,” Pinkel said Saturday. “We were behind so much, I think it was rather obvious to everybody that we were in a position where he had to throw the football a lot more than we wanted to.”
Pinkel said that after the Jayhawks’ score to start the third quarter, Missouri was forced to play against the clock as well as against Kansas.
With the Tigers passing the ball nearly the entire second half, Gianino said negative plays are common, but are still not an excuse for Missouri’s ground game getting stuck in reverse.
“I still think after watching the film that everybody up front played hard and we threw the ball 50 times. You’re going to give up a couple bad plays,” he said. “But still, you don’t want to give up that many.
“We were trying to get back in the game and obviously we gave up a couple sacks, the offense did, the O-line did, and so that hurt our total a little bit. But definitely not ever, not even with any circumstance do you think you’d get negative yards.”
Offensive tackle Scott Paffrath said that before Saturday it was unfathomable to think the Tigers would be totally shut down running the football with Smith, Nash and Marcus Woods in the backfield. While Gianino said the Tigers were successful on the ground early, Paffrath said a lackluster beginning led to the collapse.
“They had a good defense, good linebackers and we knew they were going to play well, but we didn’t get untracked. When we don’t get untracked early, things aren’t going to work,” Paffrath said.