Tigers were passing fancy

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- With an evolving offensive attack, one point of emphasis for No. 19 Missouri appears answered, at least for now.

The coaching staff, which wants to expand the passing game this season, saw positive results in the Tigers' season-opening 52-20 win against Arkansas State on Saturday.

Quarterback Brad Smith, considered a Heisman contender primarily for his running ability, racked up 233 yards on 14-of-22 passing. He threw three touchdowns, tying a career high, to just one interception.

The passing output was just the opposite of the last season, when the Tigers finished 11th in the Big 12 Conference in passing yardage. After the effort against Arkansas State, the Tigers lead the conference with a quarterback efficiency rating of 184.63.

Smith averaged 16.6 yards per completion, seven yards more per pass than he averaged last season. On Monday, Smith deflected the credit, complimenting the play of his receivers instead.

"I just thought we played well together," Smith said. "That was the thing that helped us out. Sometimes, you just put the ball up there and those guys will go make plays for you."

Wide receiver Sean Coffey was one of those guys. Coffey caught five passes for a career-high 113 yards and one touchdown. All of his catches were important-- four gave Missouri (1-0) a first down and the other was a 60-yard grab for a score in the second quarter.

Tight end Victor Sesay made four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Smith also gained 72 yards on the ground, including a touchdown in the second quarter.

Missouri visits Troy on Thursday and will face a defense that surrendered just 177 yards of total offense in a 17-15 upset victory at Marshall on Saturday.No. 18 MISSOURI 52, ARKANSAS ST. 20

Arkansas St.71030--20
Missouri2114143--52First Quarter

MU--Rucker 24 pass from Smith (Tantarelli kick), 11:46.

MU--Nash 21 run (Tantarelli kick), 8:11.

MU--Pitts 49 interception return (Tantarelli kick), 5:29.

AS--O'Neal 6 pass from Noce (Neihouse kick), :58.Second Quarter

AS--FG 30 Neihouse, 11:38.

MU--Coffey 60 pass from Smith (Tantarelli kick), 9:20.

MU--Smith 34 run (Tantarelli kick), 5:10.

AS--Wood 18 pass from Noce (Neihouse kick), :39.Third Quarter

AS--FG 21 Neihouse, 6:27.

MU--Nash 15 run (Tantarelli kick), 4:24.

MU-Sesay 35 pass from Smith (Tantarelli kick), 1:12.Fourth Quarter

MU--FG 17 Tantarelli, :19.

A--57,012.INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING--Arkansas St., Bracey 11-49, O'Neal 5-22, Roy 5-6, Higgins 1-6, Warren 6-4, Noce 7-1, Hollins 1-0. Missouri, Nash 15-126, Woods 10-65, Smith 6-63, Coleman 1-8, Viehmann 1-3, team 1-(minus 2).

PASSING--Arkansas St., Noce 19-26-2-240, Hollins 7-11-0-110. Missouri, Smith 14-22-3-233, Coleman 2-2-0-10.

RECEIVING--Arkansas St., Walker 6-126, Stegall 5-60, Dejohnette 4-49, Wood 3-42, Higgins 3-22, Brooks 2-17, Vincent 1-19, Warren 1-9, O'Neal 1-6. Missouri Coffey 5-113, Sesay 4-80, Ekwerekwu 2-17, Rucker 1-24, Franklin 1-7, Woods 1-3, Ray 1-3, Omboga 1-(minus 4).

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