September 30, 2006

Disrespect fuels defense on fourth down

The stat the Missouri Tiger defense was most interested in after Saturday's 28-13 win over Colorado was not that the Buffs were 0-for-5 on fourth down. It was that Colorado attempted to convert that many times at all.

"I definitely felt disrespected because they did it, what, three times?," asked defensive end Brian Smith.

Smith was then informed the Buffaloes went for five fourth down conversions.

"Five times?" he responded. "I'm at a loss of words for that. I don't understand. I know that they're 0-and-4 or whatever and being down late in the game, I understand that, but I mean, that's just being too greedy."

"We were highly disrespected," added safety William Moore. "We were saying before the game they weren't going to respect us. We knew they weren't going to respect us. They said we ain't played nobody, but we had to make a point today."

Point made. Five times. The Buffs may have rolled up 373 yards in total offense, but they found the end zone just one time. The Tigers kept their scoring defense among the best in the nation due in large part to the initial fourth down stop of the game. Down 14-3 in the opening minute of the second quarter, the Buffaloes faced fourth and goal on the four-yard line. Instead of sending Mason Crosby on to the field for his second try of the day, Dan Hawkins went for it.

Hawkins said, in explanation, "At some point, you've got to play to win and not play to lose."

Pinkel's players did not care about the motivation. They used the repeated fourth-down attempts as motivation.

"When we see they were still standing on the field we were like, 'Shoot. Well, okay, let's go then,'" Smith said. "It's total disrespect. Let's smash it back down their throat. We rose to the occasion."

And because they did, the Tigers stand 5-and-0 for the first time in 25 years.

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