Special teams play special role for Tigers

Sunday, September 24, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo.-- Blocking kicks usually is not a major part of Missouri's practice schedule under coach Gary Pinkel. But in its first four games, it has been a major part of victories.

The Tigers blocked a field goal and an extra point in the first half of Saturday's 31-6 win over Ohio.

The two blocks came a week after Lorenzo Williams blocked a fourth-quarter field goal against New Mexico and three weeks after Sean Weatherspoon's blocked punt in the season-opener against Murray State.

"Coach tells us about fundamentals and stuff like that, and we went out there and we finally executed," said Xzavie Jackson, who was not officially credited with the second block but called it a "team effort."

Marcus Bacon started the block party by getting in front of Matt Lasher's 38-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, which would have given Ohio a 3-0 lead. Three plays later, quarterback Chase Daniel hit a streaking Will Franklin down the left sideline for a 68-yard touchdown.

Then in the second quarter, Williams blocked an extra-point attempt that would have tied the game at 7-7.

Missouri's offense then put together a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard TD pass to Franklin.

That score gave the Tigers a 14-6 halftime lead.

"Two blocked kicks in a game, you're going to win," said Daniel, whose fumble on the second play of the game led to the Ohio field goal attempt that was blocked. "They could have had the early lead on us."

Bobcats coach Frank Solich said the kicks by Lasher, who also handles the kickoff and punting duties, came off his foot too low.

"Certainly, those two that were blocked were our fault," he said. "The kicks were very, very low, and they didn't have a chance."

But Pinkel praised defensive backs coach Cornell Ford.

"That's his specialty as a coach, field goal block," Pinkel said. "The thing you have to have if you're going to be a good field goal block team, you have to have a great, relentless effort."

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