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Archive for Saturday, September 18, 2004

MU still hurting from loss to Troy

September 18, 2004

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— Nothing irks Missouri coach Gary Pinkel more than when his team beats itself. And after last week's loss to Troy, he found plenty to be upset about.

Pinkel stresses ball control and good decisions, a policy the Tigers rode to an 8-5 record and a trip to the Independence Bowl last season. That showing, combined with lofty projections for quarterback Brad Smith, landed the Tigers with a No. 18 ranking as the season began.

It all came crumbling down last Thursday, when Missouri lost 24-14 at Troy and dropped out of the rankings. The Tigers hope to begin a turnaround today with a home game against Ball State (0-2).

Against Troy, MU (1-1) committed three turnovers and had a punt blocked. Missouri led the nation in fewest turnovers each of the past two years.

"Those things can't happen if you want to be a good football team," Pinkel said.

"We had some penalties and some stressful situations out there."

Missouri scored on its first two possessions, than was shut out for the game's final 52 minutes, surrendering a 14-0 lead in the process. Missouri was held to just 52 yards rushing in the final three quarters of the nationally televised game.

Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said the Tigers' struggles were not the result of an overwhelming defensive effort.

"The difference in that game was not what Troy did," Christensen said. "The difference in that game was our lack of execution and the mistakes that we made."

Missouri's defense had breakdowns, too, most noticeably on a trick play and a broken play.

Pinkel said the problems can be fixed before the Tigers begin Big 12 play Oct. 2 at home against Colorado.

"Obviously, I'm remarkably disappointed and very, very frustrated. I also think my goals for our football team and the program and where I think we can go haven't changed a bit," Pinkel said.

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