COLUMBIA — Against overmatched Murray State, Missouris pass rush made an impact with three sacks and four quarterback hurries. But that pressure disappeared a week later against Toledo.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Its among the many concerns for Tigers coach Gary Pinkel entering a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday against 2-1 Indiana at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.
Once again, Missouri, which is 2-0 for the first time since 2010, faces a pass-happy team, which puts a premium on the Tigers defense getting after the quarterback.
Wed like to get more sacks, but I think people have been pretty good as far as getting rid of the football, Pinkel said.
The Tigers didnt record any sacks and only had one quarterback hurry against Terrance Owens in a 38-23 win Sept. 7 against the Rockets, but Pinkel doesnt think the MU pass rush was ineffective.
Both Murray State and Toledo worked the screen game and concentrated on underneath routes, deploying three-step drops and designed rollouts to avoid Missouris pressure.
We created some poor throws that led to two interceptions I think, so I think were doing some good things, Pinkel said. But we certainly want to get more sacks.
That will be the goal against Hoosiers sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who has lit up opposing defenses for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns in three games this season.
Still, the Tigers think there will be opportunities to hit Sudfeld.
Watching film, I know theyll try to hit us with the quick passes and the screens to catch us off balance, but I think they also incorporate a few more five-step passes and a little longer passes, said MU sophomore defensive end Shane Ray, a Bishop Miege graduate. That will probably give us an opportunity to get to him.
Finding ways to ramp up pressure on the quarterback was a point of emphasis during Missouris bye week and as the Tigers prepare for their first road game.
Weve been focusing on one thing we each can do better individually, said junior nose guard Lucas Vincent, an Olathe North graduate. Everybodys is different. For me, I want to get off the ball faster.
In 2012, Missouri finished with 21 sacks, including 4 1/2 from senior defensive end Michael Sam and 3 1/2 by junior defensive end Kony Ealy, with 31 quarterback hurries, but those numbers probably need to be better for the Tigers to improve on a 5-7 season.
Its definitely bothering us right now, Ray said. As D-linemen, thats our job. The first two teams weve played game-planned pretty well against our pass rush. But were just going to keep coming and keep bringing pressure. Its going to pay off.