Tigers' defense looks to bounce back at Tech

Thursday, November 4, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- No. 14 Missouri has rebounded from being on the wrong end of a record-breaking performance before. Not that long ago, either.

The Tigers' defense is looking for a bounceback effort this week at Texas Tech after getting stung in their first loss of the season. Roy Helu rushed for a school-record 307 yards Saturday.

Last November, Baylor third string quarterback Nick Florence threw for a school-record 427 yards against Missouri. The next week, the Tigers shut down Kansas State.

"The message that we've been getting is that you have to put Saturday's game behind you," cornerback Kevin Rutland said. "You can't go on and be victorious keeping a performance like that on your side. We have to let it go."

Much was made in the days leading up to the Nebraska game about the Tigers' team speed negating freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez on runs. Instead, Helu did the damage with 139 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter as Nebraska built a 24-0 lead that Missouri (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) could not overcome in the 31-17 loss.

Nebraska burned the Tigers for six plays of 20 yards or longer.

"Those few plays were devastating, obviously," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We run the same defenses against the same looks all the time and the execution wasn't what it needed to be, so it's up to the coaches and the players together to make sure we execute better."

Rather than point out mistakes, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel decided to blame only himself, a tactic often used by coaches.

"The amazing thing is that on all six plays we were in six different calls," Steckel said. "I just have to do a better job at calling things at the right times. It starts with me getting the right calls."

The task may be a little less daunting for Missouri as they travel to Lubbock on Saturday to take on Texas Tech (4-4, 2-4). The Red Raiders are 97th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 116 yards a game. The Tigers' defense is determined to put the early struggles of the Nebraska game behind them and focus on finishing out the remainder of the schedule unscathed.

"We just have to win out, that's our goal," linebacker Andrew Gachkar said. "It's kind of hard to turn down a one-loss team at the end of the season."

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