Media day report: Nov. 22

The Tigers met with the media Monday for the final time this season and, not surprisingly, spirits were low. Coach Gary Pinkel addressed several topics, including a refashioned kicking game and just exactly how Missouri's season unfolded as it did. Read on for all the news to come out of the afternoon session.

Rewind your mind to the end of training camp. Heck, take it back just six weeks ago.

The mood surrounding the football program was extraordinarily different then, right? In a span of six weeks, the Tigers have gone from the favorite in the Big 12's North division to a loss away from the cellar. Not surprisingly, this is not what Missouri expected before the season, making Saturday's game against Iowa State difficult to get up for.

"That's what you're faced with, so you just deal with it," coach Gary Pinkel said Monday. "We created the problem, so that's why we're here where we're at. Obviously, we'd like to finish on a positive note, considering the difficulties we've had."

Sure, Saturday's game may not mean anything in the standings, but Pinkel says the Tigers will not change anything. He said he will not played youngsters with an eye on the future over more experienced players, and there was only one change -- which is detailed below -- on this week's depth chart. As far as players and schemes, do not expect anything different this weekend.

"It's just not very good," Pinkel said of the spot his team is in. "The moral of the story is, don't get yourself in this position."

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Tigers' situation is that they have shown flashes of brilliance in nearly every game. The defense remains the best in the Big 12 in terms of yards allowed, and, at some point in every game but one this season, the offense has gotten rolling and amassed serious yardage.

Against Kansas on Saturday, that came early in the fourth quarter, when the Tigers rallied for two quick touchdowns. At that point, there was more energy on the Missouri sideline and the players appeared to want the win much more than they did earlier in the game.

Pinkel said it was better play that caused the change.

"I think we made a couple plays," Pinkel said. "We weren't playing very well. When you start making some plays, the enthusiasm grows and the momentum starts to swing a little bit. But too little, too late. Start making plays in the first quarter."

As far as pinpointing a reason (or reasons) why the long losing streak has lasted so long, Pinkel could not offer anything conclusive.

"You never want to lose two games in a row," Pinkel said. "If you ever lose, you want to get back in that winners' circle because it mounts, it hurts confidence, it destroys a lot of things, the plight of losing."

More disconcerting for Pinkel, he said, was the effect losing has had on his coaching staff and players.

"They're dying," Pinkel said. "It's just disappointing that we have not played consistent enough as a team, at all. That's very disappointing, very frustrating. I haven't gotten it done."

Running nowhere: One of the most confounding stats from Missouri's loss to Kansas was the lack of production in the running game. Despite an experienced carrier in junior tailback Damien Nash and elusive threat in junior quarterback Brad Smith, Missouri finished with -6 yards on 27 carries.

So how did this happen, Scott Paffrath?

"I can't even sit here and begin to make up reasons why," the senior tackle said. "They had a good defense and they played well, (but) we just didn't get on track. When you don't get on track early, things aren't going to work."

It was particularly difficult for Paffrath, who had scores of friends and family in the stands for his last game at Missouri, many of whom had never seen him play at Faurot Field.

"It was really frustrating," he said. "The family just wanted to see you and spend time with you and not worry about a game, but it was kind of disturbing that we're getting beat 28-0 and I had a lot of people there. But that's life; it's not more important than your family."

Even the usually outspoken Thomson Omboga did not have any suggestions on fixing the running game.

"I don't know," the senior wide receiver said. "I have no answer for that one."

Crossett cranks it up: Freshman kicker Adam Crossett handled the lone field-goal attempt against Kansas, but it was from 46 yards, making Crossett and his strong leg the Tigers' best candidate.

Monday's updated depth chart fleshed everything out. Junior Joe Tantarelli, who has handled the field goal duties all season, dropped behind Crossett, who will most likely handle all three aspects of the kicking game -- kickoffs, field goals and punts -- against Iowa State.

"During the bye week, we kind of opened up the competition because we had time to do it," Pinkel said. "We're not sure (about this week) yet, but we had him in field goal and kickoff and punt and everything. He's got a pretty good leg and he's done some real good things for us."

Crossett has the strongest leg on the team, but his accuracy on field goals has been a question mark since training camp. Pinkel said Crossett has shown more accuracy in practice recently.

"He missed that one field goal and I'm disappointed about that, because he's got the leg to do it," Pinkel said. "He hit the turf on it; he had been kicking really well in practice…

"We're certainly pleased with the progress he's made."


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