October 25, 2008

Tiger Notebook: Pitching a shutout

The Missouri Tigers have had a rough couple of weeks.

"These last two weeks felt like two years," Jaron Baston said, exaggerating perhaps only slightly.

Coming off two losses, and a performance in which it offered up almost no resistance to the Texas Longhorns, the Tigers may not have had a statement to make to the country, but they had something to prove nonetheless.

"I think we had something to prove to ourselves," Chase Daniel said.

The Tigers did just that with a 58-0 domination of Colorado that Pinkel called Missouri's best effort of the season.

The game was over nearly before it started. Missouri marched 56 yards in 69 seconds for a 7-0 lead. Colorado dropped the ball on two of its first three plays and then again when trying to punt. Missouri took over on the five-yard line and punched it in, taking a 14-0 lead less than five minutes in. Against a team that had scored only 14 points in each of its last two games, that would prove to be plenty. But the real story of this one wasn't finalized until the last 90 seconds. That's when Pinkel sent his defensive starters back on the field with Colorado sitting at the Missouri 35 yard-line, looking to put some points-any points-on the scoreboard.

The Tiger defense finished off the Buffs, stopping them just inside the 20-yard line as the final seconds ticked off. It was Missouri's first shutout in four seasons, its first against a conference team since 1986. It was the first time Colorado had been held without a point since November 12, 1988, a string of 242 consecutive games.

"They've been getting beat up a little bit," Pinkel said of his defense. "I think that was real important for them."

"That was very important to us," linebacker Brock Christopher said. "We were over on the sidelines kind of begging coach."

It was Christopher who delivered the message to his defensive teammates earlier in the week.

"Earlier in the week, it was just a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. I think a lot of people took it to heart tonight and played really well," Christopher said. "I just said we've got to stop talking. We know the capability we have on the defensive side of the ball and none of us are playing to our ability."

Christopher delivered his message before last Sunday's practice. It was a message reinforced by the Tiger coaches throughout the day.

"Sunday was a tough day in our football offices. A very tough day," Pinkel said. "Sometimes, there's things that you have to say."

On Saturday, Missouri did its talking on the field.

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