There’s no mistake on the Missouri depth chart. There, under running backs, in the second spot, Tony Temple’s name is listed. How it arrived there, though, depends on who you ask.
The junior running back from Kansas City lost his starting spot for the first time this season, it was announced Monday. Instead of Temple lining up next to Chase Daniel when the Tigers face Nebraska on Saturday in a battle for the Big 12 North lead, sophomore Earl Goldsmith will make his first career start.
Temple has lost a fumble in three games this season, including one in each of Missouri’s losses. He also strained his left shoulder on a big hit from Oklahoma’s Darien Williams on Saturday. Temple fumbled the ball on the play and did not play the rest of the game.
Coach Gary Pinkel had a clear explanation why the move was made.
“You’re not allowed to fumble,” Pinkel said. “I don’t mean to be cold. But I don’t know what else to say. You’re not allowed to fumble.”
Pinkel said the move was to help Temple focus, and said in his coaching history he has always been able to cure a fumbling issue with a
“I remember Chester Taylor (Minnesota Vikings running back), at Toledo University, when I moved him down once as a last resort,” Pinkel said. “He worked hard because he’s a competitor, and he ended up doing OK. I expect Tony to do the same thing.”
Temple walked into media day about a half-hour later. After slowly slinking across the room to reporters, he was asked about this reaction to the move.
“Yeah I know, I know now,” Temple said. “I know when you’re hurt, you’ve got to move down when you’re hurt.”
Here’s where the situation got interesting. Temple was then told that Pinkel said Temple lost his starting job because of fumbling problems.
Temple had assumed it was because of the injury, not because of the reason Pinkel gave.
Temple’s body language didn’t change, but his response was that of surprise.
“Oh. Well, that wasn’t explained to me,” Temple said. “I just know they said because my shoulder was out, they were going to move Earl up. But you learn something new every day, right?”
It was clear Temple was frustrated and disappointed by the move. He said he won’t complain about losing his starting job and will work in practice to try and get his spot back. But the situation appears as if there might have been a miscommunication between player and coach.
“All I know is, I was hurt,” Temple said. “It is what it is. He’s No. 1. You can’t change it. There’s nothing I can say here, that’s going to happen, that’s going to change it. He’s No. 1 and I’m No. 2.”
INJURY UPDATES: Pinkel said Temple will be healthy enough to play despite his slightly injured left shoulder. Wide receiver Brad Ekwerekwu has a knee strain and safety William Moore is recovering from a mild concussion, but both are probable for Saturday. Cornerback Domonique Johnson will travel to Nebraska and is listed on the depth chart for the first time since spraining a knee ligament. Pinkel said he is close to playing. Cornerback Trenile Washington is still a few weeks away from a full recovery from his broken leg.
BAD MEMORIES: The most recent trip the Tigers made to Lincoln did not go smoothly. In 2004, the team’s plane got stuck in the mud in Columbia the day before the game. The Tigers had to fly to Lincoln the day of the game, and lost 24-3.
“I just remember we were turning like we usually do, and all of a sudden the plane sort of went to one side, and we weren’t moving, and everybody was looking around before they told us we had to leave the next day,” tight end Martin Rucker said.