Monday, September 12, 2011
Missouri dealing with the cost of injuries
By ESPN.com staff
After Missouri's first drive against Arizona State, all De'Vion Moore could do was watch from the sideline with his ankle wrapped in ice.
The Tigers were down another starter -- they entered Friday night's game without six -- and a backfield with four ready running backs was reduced to one.
Two offensive linemen were sidelined, including starting center Travis Ruth with a sprained knee. All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher will miss the season after injuring his patellar tendon in fall camp.
Senior linebacker Will Ebner also missed the game after suffering a high-ankle sprain against Miami (Ohio), right before Jacquies Smith went out with a dislocated elbow. Kendial Lawrence also suffered a broken fibula, and Jerrell Jackson dressed for Friday's loss but didn't play because of a hamstring injury.
"This is my 21st year as a head coach, and I’ve been fortunate enough not to be in this situation. But we handle it around here," said coach Gary Pinkel. "Obviously, we’re a different football team than we were August 1st."
It might be a team forced to do some unconventional things in the near future to adjust. Receiver T.J. Moe gets some touches in Missouri's running game with jet sweeps and direct snaps, but that role might be a bigger one with 190-pound Henry Josey the last man left standing with any experience in the backfield.
"We’ve discussed that we can do some things with T.J. Obviously, he can do a lot of things," Pinkel said. "We’ll put plays in for him, hopefully from a preparation standpoint, just a backup."
Moe joked after Friday's loss that he could line up at running back, but Pinkel says more work will be available for 250-pound walk-on fullback Jared Culver, as well as freshman back Greg White.
"Big game, a big arena, he has not carried the football once. I did not want to [play White]. Bottom line," Pinkel said.
Missouri hosts FCS opponent Western Illinois on Saturday after suffering the Big 12's only loss through two weeks of play.
"We’re not going to have excuses. Players understand that people have got to step it up," Pinkel said. "We live with reality. The kiss of death to me is feeling sorry for ourselves or for anybody within our organization. We don’t do that here."