Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Nebraska Cave-In, Mu Digs out, Looks Ahead

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Nebraska Cave-In, Mu Digs out, Looks Ahead

Article excerpt

With winless Iowa State dead ahead, Larry Smith doesn't want his own victory-starved team looking backward.

So the University of Missouri football coach opened his weekly press luncheon by declaring:

"The most important thing is that we get on with the week and the season and put the Nebraska game behind us."

Before trying to forget that unforgettable 42-7 cave-in, Mizzou fans might want an explanation for the pivotal play of the game.

The Tigers trailed 14-0 at the start of the third quarter when Nebraska fumbled away the ball at its 10-yard line.

On the first play, freshman tailback Brock Olivo stormed 9 yards to the 1.

Then, inexplicably it seemed, Olivio left the field for the starter he had replaced, senior Joe Freeman.

On the very next play, Freeman was about to fall into the end zone when the ball fell out of his hands. Nebraska recovered, went on to score two third-quarter touchdowns and the annual rout was belatedly on.

Why did Smith change tailbacks?

He didn't, at least not intentionally.

Freeman put himself in, although not in defiance of the coaches.

What happened is that Mizzou wanted to change to a formation with three tight ends and two running backs.

The voice signal for that switch is "Flush."

"We get on them in practice," Smith said. "They're supposed to get in and out. Joe went in with the `Flush' group, because he was part of the `Flush' group. We practiced it all week."

But Freeman practiced "Flush" as the starter. When Olivo got the nod to start the second half, he should have remained in the game with the "Flush" bunch.

Smith absolved Freeman and took the blame for himself and his staff.

"I can't fault him for putting himself into the game," Smith said. "I fault us because we didn't catch him.

"But understand, that's one of those details in a football game you have to be on top of. If (the ball) doesn't come out, it doesn't matter. …

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