Following Missouri’s 38-18 win over South Dakota in the season opener, the Tigers were pleased to have a win under their belt. But, they weren’t necessarily pleased with everything about the way they had played. On offense, players and coaches agreed that, while they had done some good things, and had made some good plays, the consistency of execution wasn’t where they want it to be.
After an internal assessment, the consensus was that just about everyone had taken turns making mistakes, and that the inconsistent play had been evident within each position group.
Earlier this week, Missouri assistant coach A.J. Ricker took a few minutes to speak with ShowMeMizzou.com, and he talked about how the Missouri offensive line performed in their first game, the offensive line depth, and a little bit about what the Tigers have to do to improve against Toledo.
“As Coach Pinkel said, it’s always good to win,” said Coach Ricker. “But, we’ve got a lot to work on. And it really starts with our fundamentals. I don’t care what the weather is. I don’t care (about) any of that. It’s about us. We’ve got to play better, and really be more consistent. You know, what’s great about these guys is they know that. You know what I mean? I didn’t have to say a word to them. They knew that they didn’t play up to our expectations. And that just drives them. And, that’s fun to watch those guys like that.”
Coach Ricker went on to assess some of the issues his unit had experienced during the season opener.
“It was a lot of communication stuff,” said Coach Ricker. “You know, one time, we’re passing the ball, and we’ve got one side of the line doing one thing, and the other side of the line doing (something else)…………………………… And two guys come free. I mean just little stuff like that. That’s correctable. But, we’ve got to get it corrected…………………………………… The effort was there. We’ve just got to play lower. And maybe our demeanor’s got to be a little bit better……………………………………… We’ve just got to be more consistent up front. That’s for sure!”
I asked Coach Ricker about the competition that had developed during camp for the final starting spot along the offensive line between Taylor Chappell and Mitch Hall? How’d that turn out? And, is that ongoing?
“They were competing,” explained Coach Ricker. “That’s what you want. I mean, at one point in camp, they were even. You know, go win the job!”
“I think what it did is it lit a fire under Mitch Hall’s rear end a little bit,” continued Coach Ricker, explaining how Hall emerged from camp as the starter. “And he raised his level of play. You know, Chappell’s right there. He’s the next guy in.”
“Really, Chappell’s the next guy in at tackle,” said Coach Ricker. “And (Jordan) Williams is the next guy in at guard. He’s that swing guy. He’s got to be able to play right and left guard.”
I asked Coach Ricker about how Nate Crawford’s doing?
“(He’s doing) good,” replied Coach Ricker. “It’s not physical with him. It’s just learning the plays. You know, you’d have liked to have had him all spring to where he knew this. It’s a lot coming from defense to offense. He’s a great kid. And, he wants to be great.”
Coach Ricker had already shifted his attention toward preparing for Missouri’s next opponent, the Toledo Rockets.
“(Toledo) runs multiple fronts,” explained Coach Ricker. “We’ll have to do a lot better job with our pad level, and obviously, protecting the quarterback. They come after you. They like to pressure. They’ll pressure from the boundary or from the field. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen.”