High-scoring Missouri barely needs punter - KMOV.com

High-scoring Missouri barely needs punter

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Unbeaten Missouri's offense is so potent, players rib well-rested punter Jake Harry that he's a waste of a scholarship. The third-ranked Tigers did not need Harry at all Saturday against Nebraska, and most of their 10 punts this season have come during garbage time.

"We're always joking with him," quarterback Chase Daniel said Monday. "He's cool about it. He's like, 'Just miss this pass on third down, just let me get on the field once or twice a game.'

"Would we like to punt once or twice a game?" Daniel said. "No, not at all."

Missouri (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) is averaging 53 points, second most in the nation, and has yet to go three-and-out in 48 series heading into Saturday's game against No. 17 Oklahoma State. The first-string offense had eight possessions in Saturday's 52-17 blowout at Nebraska and scored on seven of them -- six touchdowns and a field goal.

The lone missed opportunity in that game deserves an asterisk. Jeff Wolfert had the distance but was wide left on a 59-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half, his first missed kick in three Big 12 seasons.

In a three-game span earlier in the season, Missouri scored on 15 consecutive possessions -- all but two of them touchdowns. Sophomore running back Derrick Washington, in his first year as starter, leads the nation in scoring with 12 touchdowns.

"Every time we touch the ball, we want to score -- no matter who we go against," Daniel said. "When we kick goals, we're like, 'OK, it's a B maybe.' We want A-plusses every time we step on the field."

The Tigers have scored on their opening possession in all five games. They score touchdowns fast, too, making a mockery of the time of possession statistic. They're 118th in the nation at 26:07 minutes per game.

The defense barely gets to rest, given 17 touchdown drives that have lasted less than two minutes. Missouri had six sub-two-minute drives against Nevada and had three against Nebraska.

"We try to score as quickly as possible," Washington said. "We want to score on the first play."

The quick-strike offense is partly a product of Missouri's no-huddle, spread offense, with the play clock usually in double digits when the ball is snapped. Daniel's bottomless list of options is also a major factor.

Daniel has completed 76 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and only one interception. Washington averages 100 yards rushing and Jeremy Maclin is fifth in the NCAA with 186.8 all-purpose yards. Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman each are averaging six catches per game, and Tommy Saunders and Jared Perry are effective secondary targets.

"With our offense the way it is, you can't be concerned about time of possession," coach Gary Pinkel said. "The bottom line is when you get opportunities, you want to score."

The tests figure to start getting stiffer in the coming weeks. Oklahoma State (5-0, 1-0) brings its own spread offense, one designed more to generate the running game, to Columbia on Saturday night, and Missouri is at No. 5 Texas in two weeks.

Oklahoma State is averaging 32:47 in time of possession, 10th best in the country. The Cowboys average 315 yards rushing, second best in the country, but also have a quick strike component with 13 touchdown drives clocking in under two minutes.

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

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