Veteran secondary yields big yardage

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Cornerback Calvin Washington doesn't blame opposing teams for testing Missouri's secondary.

The most experienced part of the Tigers' defense has struggled through the first three games, allowing an average of 230 yards passing. That's a stark contrast to last season, when the Tigers' pass defense was the best in the Big 12 and third-best in the nation, allowing 150 yards per game.

Missouri (2-1) ranks eighth in the Big 12. The only interception came from linebacker Dedrick Harrington. The Tigers have this weekend off before hosting No. 2 Texas on Oct. 1.

"If I was them [opponents], I would definitely go deep and try us, too," Washington said. "You can't blame them. We're not making the plays where we should."

It's not like the Tigers have been hurt by the loss of players. Fifth-year seniors Washington, A.J. Kincade and Marcus King anchor a secondary believed to have made considerable progress since Gary Pinkel arrived as coach in 2001.

Back then, Pinkel learned the Tigers only had one cornerback on scholarship and that player was having season-ending surgery.

"Talk about a rude awakening when you get a job," Pinkel said.

So Pinkel asked a couple of players to switch from wide receiver to cornerback. Washington was one of those players.

Washington broke the school record for receiving yards during his senior year at Lancaster High School in Dallas. The switch to cornerback "was something I was told to do," he said. "There are a lot of guys that make a transition like that and they really can't handle it. I had my ups and downs where I wanted to go back, but I stuck with it."

Washington's sophomore season was spent learning the nuances of the game. Last year in a backup role he continued to learn and develop, making 13 tackles.

Washington still believes the best is yet to come.

"I think we've really got a secondary that can really shut people down," Washington said. "It comes to the point where we've just got to execute things. We've got the talent to do it."

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