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September 15, 2008

Pinkel: Fisher has been the key

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After Saturday's 69-17 win over Nevada, Gary Pinkel said he thought his offensive line might be the best he has ever had at Missouri.

That's quite a statement for a position that many thought was the Tigers' major question mark coming into the year, but the numbers back it up. Mizzou leads the nation in points and yards through three weeks. The Tigers have moved the ball through the air and on the ground. Derrick Washington has six rushing touchdowns (just two short of Tony Temple's regular season total from last year) and Chase Daniel has been sacked just twice this season, including one play on which two receivers fell down with injuries on the same play.

Missouri brought back three starters on the line in Colin Brown, Kurtis Gregory and Ryan Madison. There were few questions about new center Tim Barnes. The hole seemed to be at left tackle, where Elvis Fisher took the job from Dain Wise just about two weeks before the season opener. And it is Fisher, Pinkel says, that has spurred the performance of Missouri's front five.

"I think what you do is you look at Elvis Fisher and as a redshirt freshman to play the way he's playing has really been outstanding," Pinkel said. "Fisher's playing like he's been out there for a couple of years…We're going to get tested more as we go, we're going to get tested every week. But I think the key has been Elvis Fisher has been able to come in and play at a high level fast."

Pinkel also singled out Dan Hoch for his efforts against Nevada. Hoch is backing Fisher up at left tackle and got snaps with the first-team offense in the first half for the first time this season.

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