Tigers, Redhawks Meet For In-State Supremacy

MUTIGERS.COM Chase Daniel leads the Tigers into their home opener.
Chase Daniel leads the Tigers into their home opener.

Sept. 1, 2008


Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (1-0) vs. #6/#7 Missouri Tigers (1-0)
Sept. 6, 2008 - Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field  - Columbia, Mo.



6:07 p.m. CT.
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (68,349 - FieldTurf surface).  Opened in 1926.  MU is 242-163-20 there alltime (6-0 in 2007) and has won 7 straight, 15 of its last 16 overall and is 25-6 there since 2003.
RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), John Kadlec (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Mark Mills (engineer). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest.
   Satellite radio owners may also find the game on Sirius Channel 118.
TV: PPV through Fox Sports Net (participating systems and ordering information).  Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play), Danan Hughes (color), Jason Ray (analysis), Todd Donoho (sidelines), Phil Mollica (director), Mark Hulsey (producer).
SERIES: Mizzou leads, 1-0, with the only previous meeting a 20-0 Tiger win in Columbia in 1936.
   Mizzou: Gary Pinkel (Kent, `75), 50-37 at MU (8th year) and 123-74-3 overall (17th year).  Pinkel is 4-0 at MU vs. the Football Championship Subdivision.
   SEMO: Tony Samuel (Nebraska, `81), 8-15 at SEMO (3rd year) and 42-72 overall (11th year).  Samuel is 0-2 at SEMO vs. the Football Bowl Subdivision.

   The #6/7 Missouri Tigers (1-0 in 2008) return home to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (otherwise known as The Zou) to play host to the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (1-0), in a matchup of in-state schools. Kickoff for the game, which is being televised on a pay-per-view basis, is set for 6:07 p.m. (central). Tickets remain available for the game, with a crowd approaching 60,000 anticipated.
   Mizzou is coming off a thrill-a-minute 52-42 win last Saturday over #20 Illinois in a game played in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. After falling behind briefly in the 2nd quarter on an interception return, Tiger All-American Jeremy Maclin quickly reversed things as he took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a TD to give MU a lead back that it never relinquished. The Tigers pulled out to a 31-13 halftime lead and the closest Illinois would pull the rest of the way was 10 points on two occasions.
   SEMO also had a thrilling opener to the 2008 season, as the Redhawks claimed an overtime victory over Southwest Baptist by a 35-28 score on Aug. 28th in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The Redhawks trailed 28-12 entering the 4th quarter, but scored 16 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes of regulation to force overtime, where they won it on a 23-yard TD pass and a defensive stop.

2007 vs. Illinois State W, 38-17
2006 vs. Murray State W, 47-7
2003 vs. Eastern Illinois W, 37-0
2001 vs. Southwest Texas State W, 40-6
2000 vs. Western Illinois W, 50-20
1998 vs. Northwestern State W, 35-14
1992 vs. Marshall W, 44-21

   Mizzou is 7-0 alltime against teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) -- formerly known to most of us as Division I-AA. The 7-0 record is only for the modern era, as MU and SEMO met way back in 1936 when the distinction was not made between the levels of schools, thus you won't see that result in the list below.
   MU Head Coach Gary Pinkel is 4-0 against FCS foes in his time at Mizzou, with the average score being 40.5-to-7.5 in favor of the Tigers. The closest margin of victory came last season, when the Tigers were given a competitive game by Illinois State before claiming a 38-17 win at Faurot Field, to move to 4-0 on the season.
   With that, here's a look at MU's previous FCS contests...

   If it seems like forever that Mizzou has played in the friendly confines of Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium, that's because it has been forever. Saturday's home opener will break a stretch that has seen the Tigers play their last 5 games away from home - including one road game (at Kansas State), followed by four straight neutral site games (vs. Kansas in Kansas City; vs. Oklahoma in San Antonio; vs. Arkansas in Dallas; vs. Illinois in St. Louis).
   According to the record books, that 5-game stretch of being away from home is the longest since the 1945 and 1946 seasons, when Mizzou played 6 straight away from home, spanning the end of the `45 season (2 games) and the start of the `46 season (4 games).
   In 1945, the Tigers closed by playing rival Kansas in Kansas City (the last time the two played there, prior to 2007), then faced Texas in Dallas in the Cotton Bowl. Mizzou then opened the 1946 season by playing 3 straight road games at Texas, Ohio State and Saint Louis (going 1-1-1).

Category MU OPP
Points 487 208
Scoring Avg. 37.5 16
1st Half Points 263 101
1st Half Pts. Avg. 20.2 7.8
Rushing TDs 24 10
Passing Yds. 3,910 2,486
Total Offense Yds. 6,276 4,110
3rd Downs 111-192 70-195
3rd Down Pct. 57.8 35.9

   Since nicknaming Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium "The Zou" prior to the 2003 season, Gary Pinkel's Tigers have done a nice job of defending their home turf (FieldTurf surface, which was also installed prior to the `03 season, by coincidence).
   Since 2003, the Tigers are an impressive 25-6 at home, good for a winning percentage of 80.7%, including 15-5 during that time in Big 12 competition (75.0%). That breaks down to records of 6-0 in 2003, 3-3 in 2004, 4-2 in 2005, 6-1 in 2006 and 6-0 in 2007.
   The Tigers carry an active win streak of 7 games at The Zou, and have won 15 of its last 16 at home dating back to midway through the 2005 season. The only loss in that stretch was a 26-10 setback in 2006 to #19 Oklahoma.
   At right are a few statistics that really jump out as being decidedly in MU's favor over the last 13 home games (2006 and 2007 seasons).

   In its previous 117 seasons of play, Mizzou stands 82-31-4 alltime (71.8%) in home openers. Included in that overall figure is a mark of 52-27-3 (65.2%) in home openers since 1926, the year that Memorial Stadium opened for play. Breaking that down even further, since the playing surface at Memorial Stadium was named Faurot Field in 1972 for MU's legendary coach, the Tigers are 25-11 in home openers (69.4%).
   The Tigers have won 2 straight home openers, and 9-of-11 overall, dating back to 1997.
   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel currently stands 5-2 in home openers in his 7 seasons at the helm for the Tigers. After dropping his first game as MU head coach to Bowling Green in the 2001 home and season opener (L, 20-13), Pinkel's teams have gone 5-of-6 in home openers and have scored a minimum of 35 points in each of those last 6 outings at Faurot Field.

   There's not much series history at all between in-state counterparts Mizzou and Southeast Missouri State, as they will meet for only the second time when they face each other Saturday night in Columbia.
   The Tigers won the only other previous meeting by a 20-0 count in Columbia way back in 1936. Back then, Southeast Missouri State was known as Cape Girardeau Teachers College, which is how the game is referred to in the MU record books. That year, 1936, was the second in the then-fledgling coaching career of Don Faurot. Faurot's Tigers defeated SEMO/Cape Girardeau Teachers to begin the season, and eventually went on to a 6-2-1 campaign - the first of 11 winning seasons in Faurot's hall of fame career.

   The only game in the nation on opening weekend featuring two ranked opponents (A.P. poll) featured 94 points, 1,081 yards and tons of big plays, but in the end, the 6th-ranked Mizzou Tigers made more big plays to post a thrilling 52-42 win over 20th-ranked Illinois in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
   Heisman candidate Chase Daniel had a typical big day, as he threw for 323 yards and 3 TDs, while adding 46 yards on the ground, and the Tiger offense rolled to 549 yards en route to the most points ever scored by Missouri against a ranked opponent.
   After Illinois took a brief 13-10 lead in the 2nd quarter, MU All-American Jeremy Maclin took things into his own hands as he took a kickoff 99 yards for a TD to jump-start the Tigers. That was the start of a 35-7 scoring stretch over the next 21 minutes, spanning the 2nd and 3rd quarters, as the Tigers pulled away to a commanding 45-20 lead. Illinois responded, as they did against MU in 2007, and closed the gap to 10 points early in the 4th quarter, before Tiger LB Sean Weatherspoon came up with a pair of interceptions (including one he returned 35 yards for a back-breaking TD with 3:18 left) to help snuff out the rally.
   The scoring surge started by Maclin included 3 passing TDs by Daniel (1 to TE Chase Coffman just before halftime, and 2 to WR Tommy Saunders on consecutive 3rd-quarter possessions), and a 40-yard TD run by sophomore TB Derrick Washington. Washington, making his first collegiate start after playing sparingly as a true freshman in 2007, opened the game with a 7-yard TD run to cap MU's season-opening drive, and ended the night with 130 rushing yards and the 2 TDs on 19 carries.
   Weatherspoon's interceptions came after Illinois closed to within 45-35 early in the 4th. His first came at the Tiger 26-yardline with 10:20 left, and his second was a huge play where he simultaneously caught the ball over the middle with an Illini player, ripped the ball away and ran untouched into the endzone from 35 yards out to make it 52-35 with 3:18 left. The Illini got a TD pass with no time left on the clock to account for the final score.
   While the Illini passing game had success to the tune of 451 passing yards and 5 passing TDs, the Tiger defense was stout against the run - especially impressive given the fact that Illinois has led the Big 10 in rushing each of the last 2 seasons. Illinois was held to 81 yards rushing on 35 attempts, good for an average of just 2.4 yards per rush. Elusive QB Juice Williams was held to just 10 net yards on 19 attempts (0.5 avg.) as the Tiger defenders kept him in their sights all night.
   The big play was the nemesis of the Tiger defense Saturday night, as Williams connected on a whopping 9 passes of 20 yards or more, including gains of 20, 20, 24, 26, 26, 30, 30, 53, and 65 yards.
   The Tiger defense did create pressure all night on the mobile QB, however, as MU recorded 5 sacks, including a career-high 3 from senior DE Stryker Sulak.

Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6
Gary Pinkel 50 8 (2001-Present) 50-37 .575 4
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 8th season at MU and touts a career record of 123-74-3 (62.3%). The Illinois game was the 200th in Pinkel's head coaching career.
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 41-23 (64.1%) over the past 5 seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, has a 7-year record in Columbia of 50-37 (57.5%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 22 of his last 29 games overall.
   MU's win last time out against Illinois last week gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, which ranks him 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU.
   Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.
   For the efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.
   Pinkel has led MU to 4 bowl games, and if his Tigers reach a 5th in 2008, he will join Devine (6 bowls), and Powers (5 bowls) as the only coaches to guide MU to 5 bowl games. After beating Nebraska in 2007 (41-6) for the 3rd time in 5 years, Pinkel became the first MU coach since Onofrio to defeat NU three times.
   Pinkel has guided Mizzou to 4 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007), with those representing 4 of MU's 6 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.

   Mizzou senior QB Chase Daniel began the 2008 season on the short list of Heisman Trophy favorites, according to most prognosticators. If his performance from Saturday's win over Illinois was any indicator, look for the Texas gunslinger to be a major player for that award, and many others, all year long.
   Daniel threw for 323 yards and 3 TDs in helping lead Mizzou to a 52-42 win over 20th-ranked Illinois. The points were a record for Mizzou against a ranked opponent. Daniel had 369 yards of total offense on the night, as he burned the Illini for 46 rushing yards on just 9 attempts (5.1 avg.).
   Daniel was his best in the middle of the game, when he led MU to 4 offensive TDs in a 5-possession span, bridging the 2nd and 3rd quarters. In that stretch, he had TD passes of 17 yards to TE Chase Coffman just before halftime, and followed with TD strikes of 4 yards and 21 yards to WR Tommy Saunders on consecutive 3rd-quarter possessions as MU took a commanding 45-20 lead with 2:50 left in the 3rd.
   The performance was a nice follow-up to his 2007 season, when Daniel continued to smash all sorts of Mizzou passing and total offense records, as he became the school's first-ever Heisman Trophy finalist (finishing 4th in balloting). He helped lead Mizzou to its 12-2 season as he threw for an MU-record 4,306 yards and 33 TDs.
   His signature game in 2007 was in MU's epic win over #2 Kansas that saw the #3 Tigers claim a 36-28 win that catapulted them to the top of both the Associated Press and BCS rankings. In the game, played before a national television audience in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, Daniel was virtually perfect, going 40-of-49 in the air for 361 yards and 3 TDs. Daniel ranked 7th in the NCAA a year ago in total offense (325.64 ypg) and was 15th overall in pass efficiency (147.89 rating), while amassing at least 300 passing yards in 8-of-14 games - including a pair of 400-yard performances (401 vs. Nebraska and 421 at Colorado).
   Among the preseason favorites for Heisman contention again in 2008, Daniel was named the Big 12 preseason Offensive Player-of-the-Year by league media, after he won the postseason award in 2007, as well as claiming Big 12 Male Athlete-of-the-Year for the 2007-08 school season.
   Already at the top of numerous MU records lists, Daniel needs just 297 more passing yards to become MU's career passing yardage leader. He enters the SEMO game with 8,503 yards, and trails only Brad Smith, with 8,799. He also has a shot at reaching Smith's seemingly unreachable total offense career record of 13,088 yards, as Daniel has 9,238 entering the SEMO game (needs 3,851 to break).

   Senior DE Stryker Sulak (pronounced SHOE-lock) got his final season at Mizzou off to a rousing start, as he was a disruptive force all night long against 20th-ranked Illinois. Sulak tallied a career-high 3 QB sacks against the mobile Juice Williams, and had 5 tackles for loss in all - both totals which are Big 12-leading figures through week one.
   Sulak had 8 tackles Saturday against Illinois, and also forced a fumble on an option attempt (recovered by Illinois) while also blocking an extra point in the 1st quarter on special teams. He had 1 QB sack in each of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters, and his last one was a key 10-yard loss that forced a 3rd-and-25 situation for Illinois deep in their own territory that helped force a punt as the Tigers were protecting a 10-point lead in the final 7 minutes of the game.
   Sulak is MU's active career leader in QB sacks, and he now has 15.0 career sacks entering the SEMO contest Saturday. That 3-sack outing against Illinois moved him into 10th-place on the MU career QB sacks list. Next up on the chart is C.J. Mosley, who is 9th with 15.5 sacks from 2002-04.

   Here are some random news and notes uncovered while reviewing the Illinois game stats:

  • Mizzou's 52 points scored against the 20th-ranked Fighting Illini represents the most ever scored by Mizzou against a ranked opponent. The old mark was 51 points by unranked MU at #12 Oklahoma State in 1997 (W, 51-50). That game went to double overtime, however, so the record for most points scored in a regulation-length game against a ranked foe is 46 by unranked MU at #8 USC in 1976 (W, 46-25);
  • Career-best performances against Illinois came from TE Chase Coffman (120 receiving yards), WR Jared Perry (92 receiving yards) and WR Tommy Saunders (2 receiving TDs for the 1st time);
  • Senior TB Jimmy Jackson was very effective against Illinois, as he gouged the Illini for a 9.1 average yards per carry, rushing for 46 yards on just 5 tries. His 26-yard run in the 2nd quarter on a 3rd-and-10 from the MU 35-yardline helped extend a key drive that saw the Tigers score a TD with just :17 seconds left in the half to take a 31-13 lead into halftime;
  • Six true freshmen saw action against Illinois, including TE Andrew Jones (who caught a 12-yard pass on MU's opening possession that helped set up the 1st TD of the game), WR Jerrell Jackson, LB Will Ebner, WR Michael Egnew, DE Jacquies Smith (now wearing #53 instead of #99 as he did initially) and TE/long snapper Beau Brinkley, who is now MU's #1 snapper for all kicks and punts.

   Sophomore LB Sean Weatherspoon, known henceforth and heretofore as "Spoon" had a big outing in Saturday's win over Illinois, and he's been named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Spoon had 9 tackles on the night, including 1 tackle for loss, but his biggest plays came in the 4th quarter of MU's 52-42 win, when he intercepted a pair of Juice Williams passes while the Illini were trying to stage a late rally. His first pick came at the Tiger 26-yardline to snuff out an Illini threat with 10:20 left in the game and MU holding onto a 45-35 lead at the time.
   On Illinois' next possession, Spoon made a pair of tackles, including a stop on 3rd down to force a punt, and on the Illini's next drive, he took things into his own hands, literally, when he caught a pass over the middle simultaneously with an Illini player. He ripped the ball out of the opposing player's hands, and went the other way, going 35 yards untouched into the endzone with 3:18 left in the game for a back-breaking TD that made it 52-35.
   Weatherspoon's 4th quarter was amazing, as 7 of his tackles came in the final 15 minutes, in addition to grabbing his 2 interceptions.
   After earning playing time as a true freshman mostly in a reserve role and on special teams, Weatherspoon emerged on the scene in 2007 as a sophomore. He took over the starting spot at the weakside linebacker position a year ago, and from the get-go was a leader on the defense. He ended the year with a team-best 130 tackles, and was named a 1st-Team All-Big 12 performer by the Associated Press.
   Spoon proved adept at getting his hands on the ball, as he broke up 8 passes on the year (2nd-most on the team), and had two more balls which he deflected on pass rushes that were intercepted by FS William Moore - including one which Moore returned 26 yards for a back-breaking TD in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas.
   Seven times in 2007, Weatherspoon reached double-digits in tackles, including 3 games where he had a career-best 12 stops (Illinois State, Iowa State, Kansas State).

   Is there a more dangerous player in college with the ball in his hands than Mizzou WR/KR/PR Jeremy Maclin? We think not. Okay, we're completely biased, but the performance that Maclin turned in Saturday against Illinois definitely turned any heads who had yet to realize what he can do to change a game.
   Case in point: 2nd quarter, Illinois had just taken a 13-10 lead on a sudden interception return for a TD, and all of a sudden the Illini are fired up and looking to pull the upset. What happens next on the ensuing kickoff? Maclin catches it at the Tiger 1-yardline, speeds up the right seam, using great blocking from upback Earl Goldsmith. He gets to the last line thanks to a clearing block from Goldsmith, fakes right near the MU 40-yardline to get the punter out of the way, cuts back left and he's off to the races untouched for a 99-yard TD to give the lead right back to Mizzou, 17-13. The Tigers never looked back, really, as that began a stretch where MU outscored Illinois 35-7 through late in the 3rd quarter on the way to the 52-42 win.
   Additonally, his return score was the 4th of his career (2 kickoffs, 2 punts), and that makes him the MU career record holder for most combined kick return TDs. He entered the 2008 season co-holding the record with John Moseley (2 punt returns, 1 kickoff return), and Mike Fink (3 kickoffs).
   Maclin ended the Illinois game with 234 all-purpose yards, in spite of the fact that Illinois was undoubtedly game-planning to keep him under wraps. The Illini did limit his damage on offense, as Maclin was held to 4 catches for 31 yards and 2 yards rushing on 3 attempts, but he made his mark clearly in the return game. In addition to the 99-yarder (his 2nd-career TD which makes him only one of 2 Tigers alltime to have more than 1 kickoff return for a TD - Mike Fink is the other, with 3, all in the 1973 season), Maclin had a punt return of 46 that he was one defender away from breaking the distance as he took it to the Illinois 21-yardline. That return was cashed in on the very next play as Tiger QB Chase Daniel hit WR Tommy Saunders for a 21-yard TD with 2:50 left in the 3rd for a 45-20 Tiger lead.
   Maclin would leave the game midway through the 4th quarter with an injured ankle, but both X-rays and later MRI tests proved no serious injuries, other than a strained peroneal ligament in his left ankle. His status for Saturday's game against SEMO is considered probable at this point.
   In 2007, Maclin would go on to become arguably the nation's most dangerous all-purpose threat, as he was the only player in the FBS classification to score a TD via receiving (9), rushing (4), punt return (2) and kickoff return (1). His 2,776 all-purpose yards broke the NCAA single-season record for freshmen, and ranked as the 5th-highest single-season total in NCAA annals. His season total of 2,776 all-purpose yards smashed the previous MU season record of 1,621 by Devin West (1998), and it ranked Maclin 7th on the school CAREER all-purpose yardage chart.
   For his efforts, Maclin was named a consensus 1st-Team All-American as an all-purpose player, becoming the first-ever freshman at Mizzou to earn 1st-Team All-American honors. He became the 9th Tiger to earn consensus 1st-Team All-American accolades, and he shared Big 12 Conference Freshman-of-the-Year honors with Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree.
   Maclin's kickoff return for a TD in 2007 - a 99-yarder at Kansas State - was extremely historic, as it was MU's first kickoff return for a TD since 1982. That broke a string of futility for Mizzou that stretched 287 games and 976 kickoff returns without a score! Maclin ended that game with an MU single game record of 360 yards in the 49-32 win in Manhattan, Kan., and he broke the NCAA freshman season all-purpose record on the historic kickoff return.
   His 2 punt returns for TDs in 2007 made him only the 4th Tiger in history to record 2 career punt returns for scores. And that's the school career record, meaning that if he breaks one in 2008, he'll hold the record to himself.
   When teams geared up to shut down Maclin in 2007, that simply opened up the running lanes for the Tigers, as Mizzou demolished the only 2 foes to hold Maclin to under 100 all-purpose yards. Against #22 Texas Tech, Maclin was held to 66 all-purpose yards, but the Tigers rushed for 212 yards in a 41-10 blowout. Similarly, in the Cotton Bowl against #25 Arkansas, the Razorbacks limited J-Mac to just 63 all-purpose yards, but then TB Tony Temple ran roughshod, going for a Cotton Bowl-record 281 yards and 4 TDs on his own, as the Tigers pounded Arkansas, 38-7.

   For the last 3 years, senior TE Chase Coffman has been one of the nation's top tight ends, yet he was often overshadowed by his own teammate, Martin Rucker, who ended his Tiger career in 2007 earning consensus 1st-Team All-American honors.
   Now, with Rucker gone to the NFL (Cleveland Browns 4th-round draft pick), Coffman has his chance to shine as Mizzou's featured tight end. He did just that in MU's season-opening win over 20th-ranked Illinois, as Coffman caught 9 passes for a career-high 120 yards and 1 TD - a key 17-yarder he grabbed with just :20 seconds remaining before halftime to give MU a 31-13 lead at half. His 9 catches were tied for most in the Big 12 during the opening week of play.
   In previous seasons, the numbers that Coffman, the son of former NFL tight end Paul Coffman, weren't exactly chopped liver, despite sharing time with Rucker. In 2007, Coffman caught 52 passes for 531 yards and 7 TDs, which by most standards are outstanding for a college tight end. However, those numbers were down slightly from his sophomore season where he grabbed 58 balls for 638 yards and 9 TDs.
   Coffman was hampered for the last half of the season with bone spurs in his ankle that limited his mobility. He had to miss the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma, and that undoubtedly played a role in MU's 38-17 loss, as the Tigers uncharacteristically bogged down in the red zone, as they had to kick 3 field goals after reaching inside the Sooner 10-yardline. In MU's regular-season game at Oklahoma (a 41-31 loss in which MU led in the 4th quarter), Coffman proved effective against the Sooners, as he had a career-best 10 catches for 102 yards.
   Coffman had off-season surgery to clean up his ankle, and he was 100% this fall until suffering a broken pinky finger on his right hand in two-a-days. After practicing in pain for a couple of days, team trainers and doctors decided to have surgery to get a pin inserted in the finger to accelerate the healing process. Coffman missed less than a week of practice and returned to catching balls last week. He looked like his old self the first day back, as he caught everything in sight.
   Coffman, who is a 1st-Team Preseason Playboy All-American pick, is also a preseason candidate for the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's top tight end. The Peculiar, Mo. native enters the SEMO game ranked 3rd on the MU career receptions chart, with 166 (needs 38 to break the record of 203 held by Rucker), and is 5th on the career receiving yardage chart, with 1,792. He already holds the school career record for most career TD receptions, with 21, which he broke with a 3-TD performance at Colorado last season, when he caught 5 passes for 60 yards.



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