September 10, 2008

Perry bouncing back so far this season

In six quarters, Jared Perry has nearly equaled his production from 2007. While the Missouri Tigers were riding high toward an historic 12-and-2 Cotton Bowl season, Perry was mired in a sophomore slump.

"My freshman year, I was just out there having fun, really. I didn't know what I was doing, I was just trying to make plays," Perry said. "My sophomore year, I don't know what happened."

What happened was that his production was cut by about two-thirds. Perry caught 37 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns as a true freshman in 2006. He was set up for a huge sophomore season. But then he started dropping the football. His production slacked. And he never really bounced back. While his team rolled to a school-record 12 wins, Perry caught only 13 passes in 14 games for less than 200 yards.

"It got a little mental last year, I think the Ole Miss game was really where it started," quarterback Chase Daniel said. "I think maybe last year, he got a little bit of, not a cocky attitude, but, 'Hey, I've arrived. I'm a freshman all-American, I've done a lot of things, I'm just gonna start, I'm going to go and make plays.'"

Perry himself has admitted that his work ethic was not as good last season.

"My freshman year I came in doing something and then that attitude I had my sophomore year, it really didn't get me nowhere," he said. "I knew I had to make some type of improvement. I had to change something."

Despite the sophomore slump, Perry headed into spring football as a starter--thanks in large part to a knee injury that caused Danario Alexander to miss spring drills. He was named the team's most improved receiver in the spring and kept up the production throughout fall camp.

"All that's part of maturing. He's probably playing better now because of it," Pinkel said. "Real good receivers can do something after they catch it, yards after catch, and he's done a real good job of that."

Through a game-and-a-half (he sat out the second half against SEMO with the rest of the starters), Perry has already caught eight passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. An average week against Nevada should see him eclipse his statistics from all of last season.

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