|No. 6 Missouri moves to soft portion of sked|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 05 September 2008 06:55|
A week after being pushed in a 52-42 victory against No. 20 Illinois, the Tigers enter a three-game stretch where they should do all the pushing. Nevada and Buffalo at home, follow Saturday's game against an FCS team. The first-stringers could be done by halftime of that one.
Southeast Missouri State had to make up a 16-point deficit to beat Division II Southwest Baptist in overtime in its opener last week and is 1-12 against BCS teams.
``You've still got to go out and perform,'' all-purpose All-American threat Jeremy Maclin said, pointing to a trend of early upsets. ``Proof of that last year. Proof of that already this year.''
Even if there's no danger of an upset the opener provided a perfect teaching point for the coaching staff, especially on defense. Illinois quarterback Juice Williams had a career day with 451 passing yards and five touchdowns, and coach Gary Pinkel pointed out the offense scored 38 points, not 52, with the other two scores coming on kickoff and interception returns.
``To act like it's all good on offense, it's not,'' Pinkel said. ``I don't care who we play opponent-wise. This is still about our offense and defense playing at a high level.''
Southeast Missouri State is high on the national charts at the FCS level, with quarterback Houston Lillard leading with 351 yards total offense, Miles Edwards leading with 204 receiving yards per game and Eddie Calvin coming off a three-interception game.
But the Redhawks, one of four Ohio Valley Conference schools playing up in division this weekend, are just 8-15 in coach Tony Samuel's third season. Southeast Missouri stepped up last year in its opener, too, losing 59-3 to Cincinnati, and lost 63-7 to Arkansas in 2006.
``Once a year, we've got to do it,'' said Samuel, who played at Nebraska. ``You always get money games, that's just the way it is.''
Samuel said Missouri has a ``great team,'' but stopped short of saying his school had no chance. Just like Missouri, he wants to get experience for players heading into the conference schedule, and having 33 in-state players on the roster can't hurt.
``Most of them have been in that stadium and seen games,'' Samuel said. ``So it's exciting for them. We want to get an idea of how we stack up against that kind of competition.''
Missouri is 7-0 against teams from the FCS, and under Pinkel has outscored Illinois State, Murray State, Eastern Illinois and Southwest Texas State by a combined 162-30. Illinois State put up the best fight in a 38-17 decision last season.
The Tigers' offense, among the nation's best last season, was nearly unstoppable until the fourth quarter against Illinois when a 45-20 cushion was narrowed to 10. Chase Daniel threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns, shaking off an off-target start that included a second-quarter interception returned for a touchdown.
Maclin had a 99-yard kickoff return and a 45-yard punt return, and expects to play coming off a sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter. Derrick Washington had 130 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns in his first career start. Washington replaced Tony Temple, who ran for a Cotton Bowl record 281 yards in his final college game.
``I tell people the Tony Temple era is over,'' Washington said. ``I came out to prove myself and I think I did that.''
Missouri linebacker Van Alexander missed the opener while rehabbing from knee surgery but is expected to get his first playing time on Saturday.