Missouri’s offense isn’t this bad. Really.
Just think back to three weeks ago. The Tigers scored 41 points, amassed more than 500 yards of offense and dominated Nebraska. Remember?
Or what about the Tigers’ season opener against Arkansas State? Seems like so long ago, but it was the current Missouri team that shredded the Indians’ defense for 657 yards and punted just three times.
It seems like the only thing on anyone’s mind these days, however, is MU’s atrocious offensive output in the past two games.
One hundred and twenty minutes. One touchdown. Nine points. Four turnovers. Two embarrassing losses.
“We had two big games there and I don’t know,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “...We just didn’t play in either of those big games very well.”
According to Pinkel and his players, the biggest culprit is mistakes. No matter how well an offense runs on most plays, a few bad ones will still end a drive; two six-yard gains mean nothing if they’re sandwiched around a 10-yard penalty or a sack.
“I wouldn’t say anything needs to be done differently,” senior guard Tony Palmer said. “We’ve just got to execute. It seems like at every position, there’s one little breakdown.”
One of the biggest mishaps has been the Tigers’ running game, once ranked in the nation’s top five but held to less than 90 yards in three of the past four games.
The Tigers tried to get running backs Marcus Woods and Tony Temple more carries in Saturday’s loss to Colorado and did for a while.
“This particular game, by the middle of the third quarter, points-wise we were pretty much out of it,” Pinkel said. “So to assess the running game, when
you’re down three touchdowns, your game plan changes.”
Temple made a couple of nice runs early in the game, but any confidence the sophomore developed took a hit when he lost a crucial fumble in the second quarter.
Pinkel said Temple had a great practice Sunday and that he wouldn’t let the fumble affect him.
“He’s in a position ... where the spotlight is on him but there’s a lot of other mistakes that go on out there,” Pinkel said. “His was one, but there were many, many others.”
The Tigers (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big 12 Conference) need one more win to qualify for a bowl game, the same position they’ve been in for the past two weeks.
Quarterback Brad Smith said that if the offense performs the way he’d like, there won’t be any speculation about whether the Tigers will play in a bowl.
“We’re definitely upset about the way the games have turned out,” Smith said. “That’s motivation for all of us and a chip on our shoulder maybe a little bit.”
But even that won’t do Missouri any good if it can’t stop riddling itself with mistakes.
“It has a lot to do with preparation and mental focus, basically,” Palmer said.