Daniel's big game helps Missouri bounce back - KMOV.com

Daniel's big game helps Missouri bounce back

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- A few more games like this, and Chase Daniel may just climb back into the Heisman Trophy picture.

Last year's fourth-place Heisman finisher showed Colorado why he was among the early season favorites this year, tying his own school record with five touchdown passes and setting a school record for completion percentage in Saturday's 58-0 rout.

"Chase was his normal, lights-out self, making little or no mistakes," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said.

Daniel's resume was tarnished two games ago when top-ranked Texas bullied Missouri's defense and he wasn't able to muster a response from the Tigers' high-powered offense.

Against the Buffaloes, Daniel completed his first 14 passes, helping the 14th-ranked Tigers put the homecoming game away early and ease worries over their response to a midseason slide that knocked them out of the national title picture. He completed 83 percent of his passes, going 31-for-37 for 302 yards, and jokingly compared himself with last year's Heisman winner.

Describing tight end Chase Coffman's one-handed grab in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown, Daniel said it was "just a little pop pass, a little Tim Tebow action." He added: "I'm going out and trying to be like him as much as I can."

Daniel was far from awful in consecutive losses to Oklahoma State and Texas, completing 75 percent of his passes for three touchdowns. But he also totaled four interceptions in those games, failing to rise to the occasion.

Missouri (6-2, 2-2 Big 12) traded touchdowns with Texas in the second half, but only after falling behind 35-0. His third interception against Oklahoma State kept Missouri from pulling out a victory.

"It was a good way for him to come back and bounce back and get things right," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "But it's not just his fault, it's everybody's fault."

It wasn't hard to get Daniel to buy into coach Gary Pinkel's demand that players forget about the road ahead and concentrate only on the next game. The starting offense mirrored that attitude, scoring on nine of 11 possessions against Colorado to provide momentum heading into this week's game at Baylor (3-5, 1-3).

"Everything was just so much more focused," Daniel said. "There was more of a businesslike atmosphere."

In retrospect, Pinkel said he sensed that something was off during its two-week slide. He blamed poor play on distractions in the final 48 hours before game-time, guessing that players might have occupied themselves watching preview shows and getting carried away with the talking heads.

"We don't ever talk about the future opponent, but all the stuff that's out there, watching yourself on ESPN all the time, it happens," Pinkel said. "We just didn't use that 48 hours to prepare right. There's just a lot of stuff out there, and bottom line is we haven't been playing focused football."

Pinkel wants that same singleminded attitude this week. So on Monday he fended off a question about his interest in the Washington opening after Tyrone Willingham was fired, and stiff-armed a question about Daniel's Heisman hopes.

Pinkel was a longtime assistant under Don James at Washington.

"Right now, we're not talking about anything except Baylor," Pinkel said. "We're not talking about awards or anything."

Daniel doesn't believe players were distracted, just off.

"I just think we weren't playing as well as we possibly could," Daniel said. "It comes down to execution, and we weren't doing it. It's good to get back to the winning side."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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