Pinkel flashes wild side in upset of Nebraska

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Gary Pinkel may not be ready to supplant the St. Louis Rams' Mike Martz as the mad scientist of coaching, but the Missouri coach's normally conservative game plan has taken a turn for the unpredictable.

The Tigers (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) play No. 1 Oklahoma (6-0, 2-0) Saturday in Norman, and Pinkel has given the Sooners something to think about.

Criticized for his conservative play-calling after a 35-14 loss at Kansas on Sept. 27, Pinkel opened things up substantially in Saturday's 41-24 upset of No. 10 Nebraska, the Tigers' first win over the Cornhuskers since 1978.

Missouri used a reverse on a kickoff and a lateral throwback to quarterback Brad Smith that resulted in a touchdown.

But the biggest play of the game probably came midway through the fourth quarter when the Tigers lined up for a game-tying 21-yard field goal, only to run a fake and score on a touchdown pass that put them ahead for good. Backup quarterback and placeholder Sonny Riccio converted the play with a soft touch pass to Victor Sesay.

It was a play Oklahoma might recognize -- the Sooners used the same fake to help beat Missouri 31-24 last season in Columbia.

Pinkel admitted his play-calling left even his coaching staff wondering what was going on.

"I think some of the people were shocked," Pinkel said. "On the sideline some of the coaches looked at me because I haven't done that a lot. I've had in my whole coaching career maybe around four or five fakes total in 10 years."

Pinkel began mixing things up on Missouri's first possession of the second quarter.

On first down on the Nebraska 47, Darius Outlaw came across the field for a reverse, stopped, and fired the ball back to Smith on the opposite side of the rain-soaked field. With a wall of linemen in front of him, Smith ran untouched to the end zone.

"We put it in the game plan for certain situations in the game," Outlaw said. "We got that situation and coach called it without hesitation. Big games in the Big 12, you have to pull out whatever you got."

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