Big game for Harrington

Dedrick Harrington made his presence known early and often vs. Illinois. In the second quarter, he made one of the biggest plays of the game forcing a key fumble in the open field. talked to Harrington about his collegiate debut.

Dedrick Harrington was flat out beat.

Illinois' Melvin Bryant had blown past him, and quarterback Jon Beutjer found Bryant for a 10-yard reception. Harrington was beat, but he wasn't done.

Harrington, a redshirt freshman outside safety, caught up to Bryant and, with a prize-fighting punch, knocked the ball out of Bryant's hands. Missouri recovered the fumble, stopping the Illini drive.

"I don't know how many coaches I thanked after the game for that," Harrington said. "That's all we every talk about: takeaways, takeaways, takeaways. I saw my opportunity, and I thought, ‘Now or never.'"

With that forced fumble early in the second quarter, Harrington established himself as a cornerstone of this new defense, and he kept on making plays. He had seven tackles and broke up a pass, not to mention he seemed to be close to every play. It's still not enough for Harrington.

"I'm not really satisfied with it, but as my first game, I guess I'll have to take it," he said. Anyone at the game would have thought that scout team linebacker Matt Coonley was making all the plays because of a mix-up with the public address announcer. Coonley also wears No. 33.

"That's why I don't listen to the P.A. announcer," coach Gary Pinnkel said.

However, for the real No. 33, Pinkel was pleased with Harrington's first show. Harrington rarely missed a snap, and there were a lot of snaps to play on Saturday with Illinois dominating the clock.

"For a first game, a huge game, I was very pleased with his performance," Pinkel said. "I think he'll get 10 times better. Dedrick takes everything personal, he's smart, he's a competitor, and he'll look at the things he needs to do to get better.

"He's got a very bright future."

Harrington won't make excuses. "We can't keep allowing teams to march down like they did a couple times on us," Harrington said. "We can't say the offense didn't do this or that, whenever we're on the field, we have to take care of our plays.

"As a defense, we're going to get better. We just have to stop their long drives."

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