September 20, 2008

Survive and Advance

The Missouri locker room hardly resembled one of a team that had just won by three touchdowns. Despite a 42-21 win over Buffalo on Saturday, the Tigers were hardly in the mood to celebrate.

"It was all right," Danario Alexander said. "That's what the mood was like in the locker room. It was okay."

The head coach was not even that complimentary, calling the Tigers' fourth win to start the season a "comedy of errors."

"I like to think I'm a pretty good coach and we're a well-coached team," Gary Pinkel said. "We didn't look like that today."

Chief among the Tigers' concerns were three fumbles from receivers that thwarted Missouri drives on the Buffalo side of midfield. In addition, Missouri gave up a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and prolonged a Buffalo scoring drive with a personal foul for roughing the kicker.

"There were a lot of mistakes," Pinkel said. "Usually, you don't survive that."

However, the Tigers did survive…and did so relatively easily. Buffalo drew within 27-21 in the third quarter, but Mizzou then put the game away with two touchdowns and a safety while holding the Bulls scoreless.

"Maybe you can look at it from the side of we got a little adversity and I thought we handled it pretty well," Pinkel said. "We probably overdid the adversity a little bit."

That the Tigers responded the way they did perhaps said as much as anything about how far the program has come.

"A couple years ago, we'd have probably been overjoyed," Alexander said. "We set our standards so high that we want to come out and dominate every team that we play."

"People take winning for granted," Sean Weatherspoon said. "When you got an offense with Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and guys like that, I know you expect us to score 60 points a game, but it's not going to happen…I knew there was going to come a time when the defense was going to have to step up and make some plays and the offense wasn't going to do as well, but they did enough to get the win."

More importantly, the Tigers felt they would get things figured out quickly.

"These aren't rocket science mistakes," Pinkel said. "Those mistakes will get fixed right now. We don't need two weeks to work on them."

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