The fact that Missouri allowed 350 passing yards against Arkansas State is easy enough to understand.
Comprehending how that happened is a different story. At Monday's media day, coach Gary Pinkel pointed to a handful of issues.
"I think it was a lack of some fundamental issues, certainly some discipline issues that we had (and) some mental errors," he said. "A combination of all those three things led to not a very good performance from a pass defense standpoint."
Pinkel said he was "disappointed" in the results of the pass defense. Arkansas State, led by two inexperienced quarterbacks, picked the Missouri secondary apart Saturday. Nick Noce and Devin Hollins combined to complete 26-of-37 passes, averaging 13.5 yards per completion. The Indians converted several third-and-long situations, with Noce often finding receivers just shy of the first-down marker who made it across the line just before the Missouri defenders arrived.
Whether or not this is a problem with the defensive scheme is moot, as Pinkel and the players pointed to failures in execution, not game plan, on Monday.
"It was all probably errors on ourselves that we brought up," sophomore LB David Richard said. "We just gotta practice harder this week and make sure we execute on the plays that Coach calls for us."
Pinkel said the errors he saw appear to be correctable. The team has a short week of practice before it faces Troy on Thursday evening, but the number of practices this week will not change; the Tigers practiced Monday afternoon, and will practice Tuesday and again Wednesday morning before leaving for Troy that afternoon.
"For how disappointed I was, still most of those things can be corrected and we're working very hard to do it," Pinkel said. "We have an opportunity to make ourselves better and hopefully we will."
Senior LB James Kinney, the lone starter with experience at the position, said that he thought the defense could have been more active against the Indians.
"Just be more aggressive to the ball," he said. "When you're right there, go up and make the play…
"We had a good game plan, we just need to execute it better and make more plays out there."
Depth movement: The Tigers had one minor, but expected, change to the depth chart Monday.
With K Alex Pettersen having left the team after losing his starting job to walk-on K junior Joe Tantarelli, current kick-off specialist Adam Crossett slid into the back-up placekicking duties.
Tantarelli said he was disappointed that Pettersen left the squad.
"I was sad to actually see him leave," he said. "I would have liked to see him stay here and continue on with it and stuff like that. But we all have to go our own ways at some point in time. That was his decision, but I would have liked to see him stay here."
Southern exposure: Missouri will play in front of a nationwide audience Thursday, as ESPN2 will carry the game. Much like they do in basketball, Missouri has struggled on ESPN, going 1-6 on the network's channels, including 0-1 on ESPN2. The sole win was the 1998 victory against West Virginia in the Insight.com Bowl.
Still, the game, which is scheduled against the NFL season opener, gives the Tigers much-needed national exposure.
"Some teams in our league might not do this, but for the University of Missouri as we build our program, we need the exposure," Pinkel said. "Certainly dollars are an issue, but the bigger issue for me is exposure. We're not in a position at all to turn down a game like this. It's a great opportunity for us."
Fresh meat: WR William Franklin was the only true freshman to make his Missouri debut Saturday. Franklin fared well, recording one catch for seven yards. Pinkel raved about Franklin throughout training camp and said Monday that he has "excellent big-play potential."
Pinkel also hinted at his plans for redshirting other players. He said there are a few freshmen whose redshirt could still go either way.
"Four or five freshmen are right on the bubble right now," Pinkel said. "Some depends on injury, some depends on performance. Generally, by the fourth game, you'd like to make a decision whether you're going to (redshirt) or not."
Pinkel did not mention specifically who the players are, but TB Tony Temple, QB Chase Patton and walk-on C Colin Brown are likely among them. Other candidates could include WR Jerrill Humphrey and DE Stryker Sulak.
Wide-(left)-out?: A big game from junior WR Sean Coffey, who set a career high with 113 yards against the Indians, overshadowed the struggles of senior WR Thomson Omboga, who made just one catch, for a loss of four yards. Pinkel said Monday that the Tigers' offense will feature many players and that Omboga will certainly get his chances.
"We don't go around and try to make sure everybody's happy," Pinkel said. "We have a pass offense; if certain players are open, we throw the football to them. If they're covered, we don't. Thomson will have some games when he'll catch nine footballs and maybe the tight ends will catch two. This isn't, ‘make everybody feel good,' this is, ‘have the offense move the football.' That's the way it's designed, the way pass offenses are."
Omboga led the Tigers with 52 receptions last year, the ninth most grabs in a single season in Missouri history. It is safe to say junior QB Brad Smith and the coaching staff have not forgotten about the Grand Prairie, Texas native.
"Thomson will be one of our top receivers, without question, at the end of the season, like he's been," Pinkel said. "It just didn't work out that way this particular game."