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April 7, 2007

Offense on the attack

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There are questions about this Missouri football team halfway through spring ball. But very few of them are on offense. With the season still five months away, fans and observers are already projecting record numbers from the Tiger offense. The unit did not disappoint in the first scrimmage of the spring.

Missouri's third-team offense gave up an early touchdown on a LaRoderick Thomas pick six. From there on, the defense was fairly defenseless. When the media stopped following the score, the Tiger offense led 58-17.

"I'm happy," said starting tailback Tony Temple. "We're not content by any means because we have a lot of things to work on, but we'll get that figured out and just keep on rolling."

False modestly aside, it was difficult to find much the Tiger offense needed to improve. Chase Daniel was 11-for-14 for 176 yards and two touchdowns on the day. His TD passes came on back-to-back snaps, one a 17-yarder to Martin Rucker and the second a 50-yard bomb to a wide open Jason Ray.

"You saw a little bit of it today," Daniel said. "We executed today. The first group, we were 11 of 14, two drops and one throwaway so we were pretty efficient. The running backs ran real well today, Tony ran awesome and we caught pretty much everything except for the two drops."

Temple carried the ball seven times for 39 yards and Rucker led all receivers with eight grabs for 87 yards and the score. Even more encouraging for the Tigers was that the dropoff was so slight once Daniel took a seat. Junior Chase Patton completed 11-of-19 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and was not intercepted.

"I think he did some good things. You have to look at the video and everything, but I thought Chase was a little bit more poised back there," said head coach [db]Gary Pinkel[/db]. "I thought he did a good job."

Patton showed a little bit of toughness as well, lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow to freshman linebacker [db]Luke Lambert on one scramble. But it was his arm, not his legs, that impressed the most. Patton's touchdown pass came on a perfectly placed throw to Chase Coffman in the front corner of the end zone from 14 yards out.

About the only news that was not completely positive for the Tiger offense centered on Coffman. After catching three passes for 50 yards, the junior tight end sat out the last part of the scrimmage after taking a hit from Hardy Ricks and Van Alexander.

"Chase has a hip pointer. It's very sore, but if that's the worst he ever gets hurt, then we're lucky people around here," Pinkel said. "Other than that, I think we came out pretty good."

Good, but according to the players, not good enough.

"We've just got to be consistent," Temple said. "Hopefully we can keep this up. It starts every day in practice."

That begins on Tuesday, when the Tigers will hold another abbreviated scrimmage. After being forced indoors by the temperatures on Saturday, Pinkel hopes to be able to get outside for that one.

Official Scrimmage Statistics

Passing

Daniel: 11-14-176, 2 TD
Patton: 11-19-125, 1 TD
Tillman: 6-9-58, 1 INT
Grooms: 7-13-75

Rushing

Temple: 7-39
Jackson: 7-34, 1 TD
Woods: 6-2

Receiving

Rucker: 8-87, TD
Franklin: 4-62
Bracey: 4-53
Coffman: 3-50, TD
Ray: 1-50, TD
Maclin: 3-22

Kicking

Wolfert: 3-for-4 (made 34, 36, 44, missed 44)

Crossett: 1-for-3 (made 34, missed 36, 44)

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