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Missouri's promising season turns miserable after four defeats

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  • Missouri's promising season turns miserable after four defeats

    Nov. 17, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    COLUMBIA, Mo. -- One miserable month has wiped away all the promise Missouri started with this season.

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    The Tigers (4-5) have lost four straight and the star running back and the father of the star quarterback have questioned the play calling.

    Coach Gary Pinkel's mid-major background, his perceived stubbornness and his apparent decision to transform Brad Smith into a dropback passer have all come into question.

    With two games left, it's hard to believe this team began the season with the grand expectations of a Heisman Trophy contender and a No. 17 preseason ranking.

    "It's been a tough month," Pinkel said.

    Pinkel appeared to have accomplished the big turnaround last season, leading the Tigers to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the Independence Bowl -- their first postseason appearance in five years and only the third in 20 years. Near the end of last season he signed a contract extension through 2008.

    Even earlier this year, it looked like Missouri, as the school advertising slogan goes, was "on the move."

    Missouri began the year 4-1, the only blemish a 10-point loss at lightly regarded Troy in Week 2. That was the first in a series of collapses threatening the season.

    The Tigers scored two quick touchdowns at Troy, then nothing. They ran out to a 17-0 lead against Oklahoma State before losing by three at home, and in their last game two weeks ago they were poised to end an 11-game losing streak against Kansas State with a 21-0 second-quarter lead that also evaporated in a 35-24 loss.

    "If we were playing two halves, I don't think we'd be having a problem," offensive tackle Scott Paffrath said. "That's what's so disappointing about the way we've played. It's not like we've gotten beat, we've let these games go."

    Behind the scenes, things were going just as poorly. Running back Damien Nash was suspended for a loss at Nebraska after remarks about play-calling were overheard by a reporter. Smith's dad, Phillip Smith, telephoned a Kansas City radio show to complain some more about philosophy and memorably said that Pinkel had the personality of a "dill pickle."

    Potentially more harmful, Pinkel snapped recently at members of a booster club, people who might be able to influence his future. He's consistently been curt with the media.

    This week he's seemed more accepting of the firestorm surrounding his program, although he went on the offensive in some aspects. He attempted some spin when he said Saturday's game against border rival Kansas was perhaps more important than a bowl trip and improbably, a possible Big 12 title game appearance, that still hang in the balance despite a 2-4 conference record.

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    To make it to the championship game, Missouri needs to win out and have Colorado win at Nebraska in its regular-season finale on Nov. 26.

    "You have to have a short memory in football and a lot of sports," safety Jason Simpson said. "You can't dwell on the past, you have to just move forward and push it all behind you."

    As for shackling the nimble Smith, Pinkel believes its more myth than fact.

    Pinkel notes that Smith is third in the Big 12 in total offense. He expressed some disappointment in Smith's inconsistencies, but also said perhaps fans have expected too much from the player who was supposed to lead Missouri to a Big 12 championship game.

    "I think what everybody expects Brad to do is have these huge, huge games," Pinkel said. "I think the expectation level was so high, I don't know if he'd have a chance to meet what the expectation level was.

    "On the other hand, he's done a lot of good things, a lot of positive things."

    Pinkel also said opponents should be credited with recognizing Smith's talent and taking steps to neutralize it.

    Missouri's up-and-down offense has wasted a breakthrough year by a once-porous defense that is No. 1 in the Big 12 and 10th in the nation in yards allowed.

    "This year it's like we're kind of the big brother and we've got to help them out," Simpson said.

    In his time of need, Pinkel has sought out some of his mentors. But he knows ultimately the Tigers' demise is on his head.

    "I've had my tough times before and I think you draw from those things," he said. "I made a couple of phone calls but it's not real complex.

    "You try to be positive, you try to correct problems, you try to make sure communication stays at a very, very high level."

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  • DJRamFan
    Utah trying for first 9-0 start in school history
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 5, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick is impressed with what former Rams assistant Urban Meyer has done in just two years at Utah.

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    The No. 7 Utes are one win away from the best start in school history and three victories away from a perfect regular season. Next up are Lubick's Rams on Saturday.

    "Since I've been here, I think this Utah team probably is as good as any of them," Lubick said of the conference teams he's seen in 11-plus years at Colorado State.

    Utah (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) is trying for the first 9-0 start in school history. The Utes have opened the season with eight consecutive wins twice, most recently 10 years ago. And if that isn't distracting enough, there is also the rampant speculation that Florida may be interested in hiring Meyer, Utah's Bowl Championship Series standing and quarterback Alex Smith's Heisman Trophy candidacy.

    Yet none of it seems to faze the Utes.

    "I'm glad to say this. There's nothing phony about (Smith), me, the staff, the team. It's one of the most unselfish programs I've ever been around," said Meyer, who has refused to comment on the Florida job since Ron Zook's firing was announced last Monday.

    The Utes have maintained they don't closely follow the BCS list, which could put them in one of the top four bowls when the season ends. Utah has been at No. 6 the last two weeks, although No. 4 California and No. 5 Wisconsin both jumped ahead of the Utes, who beat San Diego State 51-28 last week.

    It was a reminder that teams from larger conferences have a chance to pass up the lesser-known Utes, even if they keep winning.

    "We could care less about the BCS. We have no control over it. All we have control over is winning games. That's all coach Meyer expresses to us," defensive back Eric Weddle said. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

    Smith learned this week that he officially is a semifinalist for the Heisman, which has never gone to a Ute. Smith is third nationally in passing, completing 131 of 203 passes for 1,905 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has also run for eight touchdowns.

    "What makes them so good is their quarterback (Alex Smith) is very fluid and just very composed. Not only can he run the ball, he is very smooth in running it and makes people miss," Lubick said. "He reminds you of a nice sleek halfback. But then he also has the real poise to sit back there and is a very accurate thrower."

    Smith shrugs off Heisman questions. He's still a little bit baffled by all the attention he's been getting and tries not to focus on the early Heisman lists.

    "If I'm out there thinking about the Heisman on Saturday, that's going to be...
    -11-06-2004, 02:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Illinois' Turner might be out after third losing season in row
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 21, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Illinois coach Ron Turner said repeatedly he hopes to stay. His players all want him to come back.

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    Now it's Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther's turn to have his say.

    After weeks of silence, Guenther could announce as early as Monday whether Turner will come back for a ninth season or be fired with two years left on his contract.

    "Of course I'm concerned," Turner said after the Illini's 28-21 overtime loss to Northwestern left them 3-8, their third straight losing season.

    "Ron and I will get together the next couple of days and talk. We really haven't talked much about it," Turner said. "We talked about the Northwestern game, we talked about preparing to win, going out there to try to win. We will get together next time, whenever, the next day or two."

    Turner took the Illini to the Sugar Bowl and a final No. 12 ranking just three seasons ago. But since then, Illinois is 9-26 and has won only one of its last 15 Big Ten games.

    The Illini are 35-37 in Turner's eight years and have had just two winning seasons. They've finished last in the Big Ten the past two seasons.

    "We definitely made progress, no doubt about it," Turner said. "Not enough to get the record where we want to get it, but we definitely made progress. We are a better team now. We are a lot better team defensively.

    "We have made progress and we have a lot of very good young players," he added. "They are going to be outstanding in the future."

    Guenther never said how many games Turner had to win to keep his job, only that he wanted to see progress from the Illini. Granted, Illinois won two more games than it did last year, but one was against Florida A&M, a Division I-AA team.

    The Illini were certainly more competitive. They were in the game against then-No. 15 Purdue until late in the fourth quarter and led then-No. 14 Michigan at halftime. But they were blown out by Minnesota, then lost to Iowa.

    They dominated Northwestern for all but two minutes of Saturday's game, but all their momentum evaporated when Jeff Backes returned a punt 73 yards for a score that tied the game at 21. The Illini missed a last-second field goal attempt, and then played in overtime like a team that was already beaten.

    "It's disappointing," Turner said. "We had a chance to finish it, we had chances to get a win. And we as a football team -- all of us, players and coaches -- didn't get it done."

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    But the players insist Turner isn't to blame for the Illini's struggles. He's been upbeat and worked as hard as ever, linebacker Matt Sinclair said. In...
    -11-21-2004, 06:02 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Marshall player arrested before Ohio St. game
    by DJRamFan
    Posted: Wednesday September 8, 2004 2:23AM; Updated: Wednesday September 8, 2004 2:23AM





    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A Marshall defensive lineman was charged Tuesday with malicious wounding in an Aug. 22 fight outside a bar that injured an Ohio State player.

    Sophomore Roger Garrett was arraigned in Cabell County Magistrate Court, team officials said.

    A telephone call to the court went unanswered Tuesday night.

    "We're going to allow the court system to take its course. Roger will not make the Ohio State trip," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said in a statement.

    Ohio State defensive end Redgie Arden, 22, suffered a broken nose and other facial injuries in the fight.

    Marshall (0-1) plays at No. 9 Ohio State (1-0) on Saturday.

    Following the fight, Marshall defensive end Jonathan Goddard was arrested after allegedly shoving a police officer who tried to pull him off a Huntington man. The Huntington man was later arrested on drug and weapons charges.

    Goddard pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor last week in Cabell County Magistrate Court. He sat out the first half of Saturday's 17-15 loss to Troy, but it wasn't known if the disciplinary action was related to his arrest.

    Arden last season played seven minutes total in seven games, mainly on special teams.

    He was expected to miss most of the current season after suffering a shoulder injury during preseason practice, Ohio State spokesman Steve Snapp has said.

    Buckeyes may live with, learn from QBs' mistakes
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has always said that he will never have a quarterback who regularly coughs up the ball to the other team.

    Maybe now he has no choice.

    Committed to weathering a learning curve with sophomores Justin Zwick and Troy Smith, Tressel says he just hopes his young quarterbacks learn from their mistakes. In other words, the unacceptable has become almost unavoidable.

    "We're committed to growing through the process and there's no doubt about it, our quarterback being mistake-free is huge," Tressel said Tuesday. "There are some mistakes that we're not going to be able to live with, but Justin knows that, Troy knows that. You learn from those experiences."

    Zwick threw two interceptions and had four fumbles in the No. 9-ranked Buckeyes' 27-6 lashing of Cincinnati on Saturday, but kept the starting job over Smith heading into Saturday's game against Marshall.

    Zwick completed 14 of 26 passes for 213 yards and Smith came on to complete 2 of 3 passes for 29 yards. Each had a touchdown pass. Smith gained 7 yards on five rushing attempts and Zwick lost 8 yards on four carries, including the only sack of the game.

    "You've got to win. That's what it's all...
    -09-09-2004, 11:18 AM
  • DJRamFan
    By Eric Esteban Independent Florida Alligator
    by DJRamFan
    By Ryan Colaianni University Daily Kansan
    Lawrence, KS (U-WIRE) -- Although Kansas football coach Mark Mangino has not named a starter for this Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic, all signs are pointing to junior Adam Barmann.

    Barmann started the first eight games last season, before suffering an apparent shoulder injury against Iowa State, ending his season. Barmann has since worked with the first team throughout spring practices and training camp.

    "Adam Barmann has picked up some ground coming out of the summer program. He's probably the most prepared of our veteran quarterbacks," Mangino said. "He still has to continue to improve to win the job."

    At the team's annual media day on Aug. 11, Barmann was asked if the starting quarterback job was his. He confidently answered "yeah."

    He passed for 1,427 yards with 12 touchdowns over nine interceptions.

    Pushing Barmann is senior Brian Luke.

    Luke led the team to victory over Missouri last season, yet was listed behind Barmann and senior Jason Swanson on the depth chart when spring practices ended in April.

    Since then, Luke went to Mangino and told him he wanted to be the starting quarterback.

    "I made it clear that I do not want to be the back-up, that I want to be the starter," Luke said. "But should I be the back-up I will do that with 100 percent pride."

    Mangino appreciated Luke talking to him in his office, rather than hearing it from another coach, Luke said.

    "I am as confident as I have ever been. I know the offense better than I ever have before," Luke said. "I am definitely looking forward to this season."

    Luke saw action in three games last year and his pass-efficiency rating was the highest of any of the team's quarterbacks. He passed for 467 yards and three touchdowns.

    Luke also nearly led Kansas to a victory over Texas, the week before the Missouri contest.





    "Brian Luke is a very good player who has a great command of the offense," Barmann said. "We have a lot of very good players at the quarterback position and it will make all of us better."

    Freshman quarterback Kerry Meier is also still in the mix for the job, Mangino said.

    "The young guy, Kerry Meier, each and every day he learns more and more about our offense," Mangino said. "You can see he's an awfully talented guy."

    Mangino hasn't said whether Meier wouldn't receive a redshirt this season.

    Senior quarterback Jason Swanson, who threw the go-ahead touchdown against Kansas State last season, apparently is not in the race for the starting job.

    "Swanson's been slowed down. He doesn't take many...
    -08-29-2005, 06:10 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Minnesota's Jundt, stung by playing time, leaves program
    by DJRamFan
    By Matt Perkins Minnesota Daily
    Minneapolis, MN (U-WIRE) -- Junior wide receiver Mark Jundt quit the Minnesota football team for the second time on Sept. 11.

    He said he had repeatedly been told he would get playing time, but did not receive any.

    Jundt, a redshirt walk-on in 2002, played 20 downs of the Sun Bowl against Oregon in 2003 in the absence of an injured Jared Ellerson. Jundt quit the team for the first time after the Music City Bowl last season after seeing his playing time significantly decrease over the course of the year.

    After the Gophers week two win over Colorado State, Jundt decided to leave the team for good.

    "The thing is, I thought I had proven I could handle being in a game situation," Jundt said. "It was just a big letdown to me to think that the coaches don't have enough confidence in me to put me in a game where the outcome had already been determined."

    Jundt said it was a difficult decision to come back after quitting the first time, but the coaching staff convinced him.

    Wide receivers coach Luke Tressel talked to him first, before he had been named to the position. Jundt said Tressel called him and told him he was applying for the wide receivers coaching job, and that he would like to see Jundt back on the team next season.

    Hesitant at first, Jundt said he then talked to coach Glen Mason, who echoed Tressel's sentiments. Jundt decided to rejoin the team, and thought he had a good summer and fall showing.

    But after not playing a down through the Gophers first two games, a 41-10 win over Tulsa and a 56-24 romp against Colorado State, Jundt decided to leave the team once again, he said.

    "After being told that [I would get playing time], it hurts," Jundt said. "Because I thought things were going to be different. I put so much work in this summer and this fall and now it's just gone for nothing."





    Mason and Tressel could not be reached for comment.

    (C) 2004 Minnesota Daily via U-WIRE
    -09-20-2005, 03:30 PM
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