Mental errors have bogged down Missouri Tigers’ offense

08/19/2014 6:41 PM

08/19/2014 6:41 PM

Consistency remains the aim for Missouri’s offense, because that’s what has been lacking during the first two scrimmages of football training camp.

The Tigers’ attack, which averaged close to 40 points per game last season, has scuffled with new starters at every skill position and two of the three offensive line spots.

“Inconsistent is the word at the current moment, which is not a good thing,” senior left tackle Mitch Morse said. “We’ve still got guys who are making mental errors — including the first-team guys, including myself. I’m not going to be pointing fingers without pointing fingers at myself.”

Morse said he’s seen what Missouri is capable of on that side of the ball in fits and starts, but collectively the team needs to toughen up mentally.

“We have to believe in ourselves,” Morse said. “There’s spurts where we look unstoppable. You see us clicking and firing on all cylinders, but what happens is, we let one bad play slow us down.”

That has to change.

“If you watch last year’s team or the 2007 team, they’re running up to the ball every snap,” Morse said. “If a guy drops a ball, screw it. They’re right back on the line within 15 seconds, running the next play for a 15-yard completion. It’s a mentality we need to develop.”

Still, alarm bells aren’t ringing.

“I see them making big strides,” senior defensive end Markus Golden said. “Practice is for the mental errors, so when you get to the game you’ll be ready to get out there and do what you’re supposed to do. Everybody makes mental errors. We make them on defense, but fix them. They fix them too. We see them make mistakes, but the next day they are fixed. You’ve also got to remember those guys are competing against a good defense.”

Freshmen receivers continue to impress

Missouri’s staff has been mum about how it plans to use a bumper crop of freshmen receivers, but Lawrence Lee and Nate Brown figure to have a role based on assessments from other Tigers.

Lee, in particular, has impressed after rocketing up the depth chart at slot receiver after sophomore Levi Copelin’s suspension and injuries to seniors Jimmie Hunt and Gavin Hunt.

“Lawrence Lee is coming on,” Webb said. “He’s been coming on well in the past couple weeks. He’s showing well for himself. There are a couple injuries in front of him, but he’s stepping up.”

Webb also heaped praise on Brown, who lines up primarily at flanker.

“He’s been impressive,” Webb said. “He hasn’t gotten that many looks in scrimmages, but in practices he makes plays when he gets the ball.”

Senior wide receiver and captain Bud Sasser said all of the freshmen have picked up the offense quickly and made plays in camp.

“I think those guys are ready,” Webb said. “We need some young guys to step up and those guys are capable of doing that.”

Injury report

Several key players remained sidelined Tuesday with injuries, including senior wide receiver Jimmie Hunt (hamstring) and sophomore cornerback John Gibson (hamstring).

Hunt is day-to-day, a spokesman for MU Athletics said.

Sophomore running back Morgan Steward, a Staley graduate, also missed practice. He injured a hip Aug. 8 during practice and has been sidelined for 11 days.

Senior wide receiver Gavin Otte (ankle) also remains sidelined along with sophomore wide receiver Eric Laurent (hamstring/broken finger).

Senior defensive tackle Matt Hoch (pectoral strain) remained limited at practice, while sophomore walk-on defensive end Tyler Hanneke, a recent convert from tight end, missed practice.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/todpalmer.

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