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Thursday, October 23, 2003
Missouri preparing for high-powered Texas Tech


COLUMBIA, Mo. -- For Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, the Texas Tech game plan is simple.

"They get the ball and they just score, score, score," said Pinkel, whose Tigers (5-2, 1-2 Big 12) host the Red Raiders (5-2, 2-1) Saturday in their homecoming game at Faurot Field.

"I don't think there's a trick there. You just want to make sure you have more points at the end of the game than they do."

The arrival of Texas Tech means Missouri will be facing the nation's No. 1 scoring offense for the second straight week. No. 1 Oklahoma held the top spot entering last week's game against Missouri, a game the Sooners won 34-13.

But Texas Tech took over as the offensive leader after a 51-49 loss to Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are averaging 47.1 points per game.

Texas Tech also leads the nation in total offense with 627 yards per game as well as in passing offense, with 524 yards per game.

Most of Texas Tech's yardage comes from 5- to 7-yard routes between the linebackers and defensive backs. But once the defense starts playing up, they'll throw it deep for big plays.

Most observers doubted that Texas Tech could duplicate the offensive numbers put up last season by Heisman Trophy candidate Kliff Kingsbury. But B.J. Symons, Kingsbury's replacement, leads the nation in five passing categories, including yards with 3,506 and touchdowns with 32. He's averaging a nation-best 513.6 yards per game of total offense.

"They're going to get their yards," Pinkel said. "What you want to do is limit the number of points they get."

Symons said he wasn't discouraged by last week's shootout loss to Oklahoma State.

"We put up 49 points and it was just two points too few," he said. "Basically what it comes down to is we just have to put up more points."

That's because, at the other end of the rankings is Texas Tech's defense, 113th out of 117 NCAA Division I-A teams, surrendering 490 yards per game. Opponents are averaging more than 33 points per game.

They'll face a Tigers team featuring sophomore quarterback Brad Smith, who has put up good numbers against both Nebraska's and Oklahoma's defenses -- both ranked tops in the nation defensively when they played the Tigers.

"He's the ultimate multidimensional guy," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "There are all these guys that people claim they can run and throw, and the truth of the matter is that most of them can't. This guy can really do both."

Both teams were knocked out of the top 25 last week -- Texas Tech is 26th, Missouri at 27th.