|Defense steps up in shutout of Colorado|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 26 October 2008 23:17|
Holding the opposition off the scoreboard, now that's exceptional.
Missouri's lightly regarded defense, 10th worst in the Big 12, made all but the first touchdown extraneous by stuffing Colorado in a 58-0 rout Saturday night that helped the Tigers climb two spots to No. 14 in the AP poll. It's the school's first shutout in four seasons and the first over a conference foe in 22 years.
Missouri's offensive stars were eager to take a back seat after Colorado (4-4, 1-3) was held to 199 yards. Quarterback Chase Daniel, who tied his own school record with five touchdown passes and set a school accuracy mark with 83.8 completion percentage (31-for-37) said the real heroes were on the other side of the ball.
``They were third and long every third down, it seemed,'' Daniel said. ``They played exceptional.''
op-ranked Texas a week earlier in a 56-31 blowout loss. Coach Gary Pinkel wanted the shutout enough to put the starters back in near the end of the game.
Colorado was inside the Missouri 10 when the game ended, the only suspense in the Tigers' first shutout since a 48-0 win over Ball State in 2004 and first in conference play since the days of the Big Eight, a 48-0 victory over Kansas in 1986.
``Our defense, they've been getting beat up a little bit,'' Pinkel said. ``In this day and age, with all the points scored all over the country every Saturday, it's just very unusual to be able to do that.''
Colorado helped make it possible, at the beginning and the end. Right away, the Buffaloes were demoralized by mistakes and ineffectiveness, down 14-0 just over four minutes into the game.
Coach Dan Hawkins elected not to kick a cheap field goal in the waning seconds, going for the touchdown. Behind 35-0 at the start of the second half, he went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Missouri 17.
Colorado's streak of scoring in 242 consecutive games ended with the school's first shutout loss since a 7-0 setback to Nebraska on Nov. 12, 1988.
``I think his thing was, 'Heck, we're going to score a touchdown. It's ridiculous to score a field goal in a situation like this,''' Pinkel said. ``I don't know if I'd have done the same thing.''
i sacked Colorado quarterbacks four times. Stryker Sulak had two sacks, one forcing a lost fumble. A secondary that has been the weakest link of the defense allowed 158 yards passing.
Pinkel said he was upbeat with players during the practice week while emphasizing focusing on Colorado and not dwelling on the rock-bottom performance against Texas and an upset loss at home against Oklahoma State the previous week.
``We had to flush it,'' Sulak said. ``We knew this was the game we could play. Coming off two losses like that, we knew we had to change our attitude, and I think that's what happened.''
Even if they tried to forget the losses, players couldn't forget the feeling that drove them to prove themselves anew.
``You've got a lot of thinking, all the what-ifs that might be going through your head,'' defensive tackle Jaron Baston said. ``Those were two of the hardest weeks for our team to go through, and it's not enough yet. We're not content.''
Part of that could be the opponent. Colorado's offense has sputtered for some time, and totaled 14 points each of the previous three games.
The Buffaloes have lost four of five overall after a 3-0 start. Hawkins described his team as ``kind of fragile in a sense'' after the school's most lopsided shutout loss getting walloped 59-0 by Nebraska in 1981.
``Certainly, when they got up big early, that hurt our confidence,'' Hawkins said.
ill, Pinkel noted that shutting out any team is a major accomplishment and is bound to keep the defense motivated next week at Baylor.
``You play who you play, and you evaluate how you play against that particular opponent,'' Pinkel said. ``I thought we had a very good day.''