This spring, coach Gary Pinkel stressed how important it would be for his team to be able to pass this season. Pinkel believed opposing defenses would focus even more on shutting down junior QB Brad Smith's running ability, stacking as many defenders close to the line of scrimmage as possible.
Pinkel reiterated that concern this week, citing how pleased he was with Smith's performance in the Tigers' 24-3 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. Smith managed 277 yards on 24-of-56 passes, including an interception. The offense could not make big plays when it mattered, however, and ended up with a tough-to-swallow loss in Lincoln.
Senior WR Thomson Omboga has been a beneficiary of the expanded passing game, as he recorded eight catches for a career-high 96 yards against the Cornhuskers. One of the more outspoken players on the offense, Omboga shared his thoughts on the unit's struggles with InsideMizzou on Monday afternoon…
On the frustration of personally playing well but still losing: "Both times I hit eight catches (the other was against Arkansas in the Independence Bowl last season), we lost. Throw it more to me, man, or never not throw it to me."
On the mood of the offense after going more than six quarters without a touchdown: "It is pretty frustrating. We just can't lose focus, knowing that we are a good offensive team with a lot of weapons. We're just sort of in a slump right now. We know we're gonna get over this real soon, this Saturday hopefully."
On how an entire unit can slump simultaneously: "We're all on the same offense, so it would be selfish for me to say, ‘I caught eight passes; I did good.' That wouldn't be good. Our whole offense is doing bad. We don't have any big-time studs right now."
On Smith passing 56 times against the Cornhuskers: "I never thought I'd see it, just because of the way he runs. We know he's a great runner. Of course, when they put nine guys on the line of scrimmage and take away your run, you're gonna have to pass. We know teams aren't that retarded where they will just keep sitting back with five safeties and DBs and let Brad run. He's a great passer and he's got good receivers, so we're not worried."
On letting down the defense by struggling offensively: "We know that our defense is playing real great and doing a good job of getting us the ball back. We gotta go out there and get their back a little. We know they've got our backs. We just know that they've been playing their hearts out for us so we're gonna have to do something to get some points on the board and keep them off the field."
On the defense having to score for the Tigers to win: "It should be a goal for a defense to want to score some points. As far as them having a responsibility to do that, no, it shouldn't be like that. We have enough playmakers on offense where we should be able to score our own points."