MU looking to pressure Texas Tech quarterback

Thursday, October 18, 2007 | 12:02 a.m. CDT; updated 7:37 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Opposing quarterbacks haven’t run much from the Tigers’ defense this season. Junior defensive end Stryker Sulak wants to see that change quickly.

“We want a lot of hurries,” Sulak said. “We feel like they (Texas Tech) will finally allow us to let loose.”

The Tigers’ pressure on quarterbacks has been sub-par in 2007. Go back to the 2006 season and look at the sack production through the first six games. The Tigers got to the quarterback 26 times, roughly four sacks per game. This year they have 11 sacks, just under two a game.

When looking those numbers, one can’t discount the graduation of Xzavie Jackson (four sacks last season) and Brian Smith (seven-and-a-half sacks).

Players and coaches have noted the quality of offensive linemen, yet they are not using that as an excuse.

“Every team we have played this year has had a good offensive line and we have had different schemes for each,” Sulak said. “But we want to get back there and disrupt the passing game.”

Defensive personnel would like to sack the quarterback more, but in this weekend’s game against the Red Raiders, disrupting the pass might be all they can hope for. The Red Raiders’ offensive line has given up just eight sacks on the season. And with an offense that thrives on quick passes, players know this is the week they have to break through.

“We can anticipate the pass a lot more now,” Sulak said. “It’s a mind-set.”

Anticipating the pass is a generous statement. The Red Raiders throw the football about 71 percent of the time, which is about 55 pass attempts per game. That statistic alone should increase the amount of contact defensive players have with Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell.

“With a guy throwing that much, we need to be hitting him about half the times he drops back,” defensive tackle Lorenzo Williams said.

The size and skill of opposing lines has been a problem for the Tigers, but Williams also points to a lack of willingness to stick with pass rushing techniques.

“The commitment to pass rushing techniques has been getting lost in the heat of battle,” Williams said. ”They (Texas Tech) look good on film, so hitting and putting them down will be really important.”

Those hits could also prevent the Red Raiders from making the big play on the Missouri defense. MU linemen said they will not be surprised by anything the Red Raiders run, since they’ve played against a similar style of offense in practice the past three years. Williams accounted for one of the four sacks that MU got against the Red Raiders in last year’s contest, and he knows that Texas Tech will rack up yards.

But the Tigers’ defense has had a “bend but don’t break” quality to it for the first six games of 2007, and the defense feels it can really break the game open if Harrell is down more times than he is up.

“They (the offensive line) have to be good if they’re throwing the ball for 700 yards a game,” Williams said. “I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I think we are up for it.”

COFFMAN GETS NATIONAL RECOGNITION: Junior tight end Chase Coffman was named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week on Wednesday by the Nassau County Sports Commission. Coffman caught 10 passes for 102 yards, both career highs, last week against Oklahoma. It is the second consecutive week a MU tight end has received the award, as senior Martin Rucker received the award for his performance against Nebraska.

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