COLUMBIA — David Yost is, in his own words, frustrated and disappointed with the Missouri offense’s lack of production. He is not the only one, of course, but rest assured, no one takes these struggles harder than Yost, the Tigers’ offensive coordinator.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“You take it personal,” said Yost, who also coaches MU’s quarterbacks. “I feel responsible for the offense, personally, so when we’re not executing well it bothers me, keeps me up, makes me want to work harder and do more.”
Presumably a bye week before Saturday’s home game against Kentucky should have allowed Yost to do just that. The Tigers’ defense hasn’t played lights-out, but there’s little doubt their out-of-sync and banged-up offense has become a focal point for those looking to place blame for MU’s record, 3-4 overall and 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference.
Missouri ranks 11th out of 14 SEC teams in scoring offense and 12th in total offense. Even more disconcerting, the Tigers are 13th in pass efficiency, have the league’s lowest team completion percentage (54.7) and are dead last in third-down conversation percentage (37.1).
“A lot of our efficiency issues are self-inflicted,” Yost said, “way more than what they have been in the past.”
That means breakdowns in execution, some of which is because of play calling and some of which is because of player mistakes. But injuries have something to do with the struggles, too. MU has started several different offensive line groups and junior quarterback James Franklin — who made the offense go last year with his dual-threat capabilities — has been banged up all season.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Wednesday that Franklin — who was just beginning to look like his old self before he sprained his knee in MU’s 19-15 loss to Vanderbilt — is expected to return for MU’s game at No. 2 Florida on Nov. 3.
In the meantime, however, there is a game to win.
“I think we’re trying to simplify and do the things our kids are best at,” Yost said. “That (break) kind of gave us a chance to look back and say ‘OK, these are things we’ve done well, we’ve got to do them more, and these are the things we haven’t done well’ … we need to maybe eliminate those things or do them less to put our kids in the best position to be successful.”
That, of course, starts with Franklin’s replacement, redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser. He has been harassed by opposing defenses, but also has struggled with accuracy and has shown a tendency to hold the ball too long.
“He’s a tough guy in a way; he wants to stand in there and make the throw,” Yost said. “We’ve had this discussion; throwing it as you’re being hit doesn’t normally result in the ball going where you want it to … there has to been an understanding of how much time we have, and we have to get it off.”
Yost added the Tigers’ line has not handled blitzes well, which leads him to believe they will see more pressure.
The good news, Yost said, is that Berkstresser has done a better job of reading blitzes in practice; now it has to transfer to the game.
“Our game plan is around Corbin and his strengths,” Yost said, “and what he can do to attack the Kentucky defense.”
Yost also said the Tigers will also make an effort to get their solid group of running backs — who are averaging 5.5 yards per carry — more involved.
“Whatever it takes,” Yost said. “We’re going to dig ourselves out.”