With his team coming off a 31-10 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, Missouri coachGary Pinkel
said Wednesday that he was not caught off guard by the talent of the Gamecocks, but was still disappointed with his team’s performance.
“I’m disappointed in how we played,” Pinkel said. “We understand we played two really good football teams with Arizona State in the middle of the two, but I also think they were disappointed we haven’t played better.”
Missouri, 2-2, sandwiched a 24-20 win over Arizona State on Sept. 15 with losses to No. 6 South Carolina and No. 5 Georgia, two of the best teams the Southeastern Conference has to offer.
“What I saw is two top 10 football teams in college football and they might be in top five (in the country), so it’s what I expected,” Pinkel said. “I don’t care what league they’re in, those teams are where they should be, ranked-wise.”
Pinkel said that under normal circumstances, Missouri would never play such a difficult three-week stretch, as Arizona State is currently 3-1. But MU’s defection from the Big 12 to the SEC last fall led to an unorthodox schedule.
“From a scheduling standpoint, we’d never schedule Arizona State in between (those two schools), that would never happen,” Pinkel said. “We recognize, you know, that in this league you’re gong to play SEC games right off the bat in September, but scheduling non-conference games right – as we’ll be able to do in the future – at least gives you a better opportunity to do things the right way. I call it intelligent scheduling.”
Pinkel also addressed a few tactical concerns. For one, South Carolina completed a number of easy, short passes to its tailbacks and tight ends, which kept drives alive.
“We try to force the ball to be dumped off and to the running backs or the tight ends or whoever they have as their secondary receivers, and we did a good job , except for maybe once or twice, doing what we wanted to do,” Pinkel said. “And then it’s just a reaction that you have to do when the ball is thrown, how you pursue it, and we didn’t do a very good job of that. When a ball was thrown, we didn’t anticipate well…we thought we had some breakdowns, and give them credit for catching the football, turning it up and turning 6-yard gain into 10- or 12-yard gain.
Pinkel also said that his team needs to do a better job of stretching the field, vertically.
"There's no question about that,” Pinkel said. “When the score started separating a little bit, the game plan is not quite the same. When you're calling plays and things aren't working, the last thing you want to do is throw it deep and get another second-and-10. “You know, I've been doing this a long time. I called plays when I was at Washington and generally, when you’re struggling on offense, two things are going to happen – one, the play-calling isn't right, that's the way it is, and then there's fingers pointing at the quarterback. So we understand that we've got to vertically stretch the field, and I wish we could have done that more."