Missouri coach Gary Pinkel continued to reiterate that losing defensive end Markus Golden for the Indiana game isn’t an excuse for the shocking loss.
“He’s one of the best players on our team, but we don’t have excuses,” Pinkel said of the preseason second-team All-SEC player, who suffered a hamstring injury during practice and didn’t suit up. “It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. We gave up too many big plays, regardless of if he was playing or not. We’ve had some trouble with that in a couple of our games.”
That much is true, but Golden’s presence might have made a difference on some of those plays. It’s impossible to speculate.
Still, it’s hard to argue that Golden’s absence didn’t have an impact.
Indiana didn’t have any negative plays running to the right at Missouri’s left defensive end position, where Golden usually would have been.
The Hoosiers primarily ran up the middle in the first half, gaining 46 yards on 18 carries with nine plays netting a yard or less.
Running right in the first half, Indiana netted 61 yards on eight carries.
The Hoosiers adjusted and ran to the right more in the second half, picking up 59 yards on eight carries — though Tevin Coleman’s 49-yard burst came on a run up the gut.
Indiana managed 71 yards on six carries between the tackles after halftime, but only 22 on five carries aside from Coleman’s big-gainer.
For the game, Missouri allowed 120 yards on 16 carries on runs to the right and only ran left — toward the Tigers’ other stud defensive end, Shane Ray, nine times.
Indiana gained 37 yards running to the left, averaging 4.1 yards compared with 7.5 yards on runs to the right.
The Hoosiers’ two biggest pass plays, a 47-yard bomb to Nick Stoner in the first quarter and the 44-yard screen pass to Coleman on the game-winning touchdown drive, also went to the right.
“It’s very difficult to play consistent defense if you’re giving up big plays,” Pinkel said. “we were very good on third down, but that didn’t really apply in this particular game.”
Missouri again will work on its gap integrity, tackling, containment and maintaining proper leverage — the fundamentals that have been lacking at times this season.
South Carolina, which hosts Missouri at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN, has had its own defensive issues this season.
Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill torched the Gamecocks for 511 yards passing in the opener.
“They struggled against A&M in the first game of the year, but they just keep getting better,” Pinkel said. “The win against Georgia was huge in a pressure-packed situation. It was just a great college football game. … “They’ve got a very good football team and I think (South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier) knows it.”
Spurrier’s assessment wasn’t quite so glowing after a 48-34 comeback win against Vanderbilt last weekend, a game that featured two kickoff return touchdowns by the Commodores.
Pinkel again dismissed the notion his Tigers were affected adversely by the double-overtime loss against the Gamecocks last season.
He said the loss to South Carolina taught Missouri a lesson about finishing last season, a lesson the Tigers apparently learned judging by the fourth-quarter performances against Mississippi, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State down the stretch.