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Missouri has just three QB sacks this season (with PODCAST)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Before the season started, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam said the Tigers had a goal of getting at least 30 sacks this season.

While the season is far from over, early returns haven’t quite lived up to that promise. Through two games, the Tigers have just three sacks for a total loss of nine yards.

An early cause for concern? Not quite yet according to coaches and players.

“We’d like to get more sacks,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. “I think (quarterbacks) have been pretty good in terms of getting rid of the football.”

Pinkel said he felt Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens got rid of the ball quickly thanks to a lot of short dump passes and screens. All threes of Missouri’s sacks came in the season-opening win against Murray State.

“He didn’t put himself in position to be back there very long,” Pinkel said of Owens. “That ball was gone.”

Getting pressure on the quarterback has seemed to be a point of emphasis for Missouri since preseason camp. The Tigers struggled to get much heat on the quarterback last season when they recorded just 21 sacks. That was down from 27 in 2011 and 38 in 2010.

Missouri’s defense will be at a disadvantage for part of Saturday’s game at Indiana (7 p.m. Big Ten Network-TV).

Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson will sit out the first half after being ejected for targeting during the second half of the Sept. 7 game against Toledo.

Wilson has six tackles so far this season.

“It wasn’t like he had a hit and he wanted to hit the player there,” Pinkel said. “There certainly was no vengeance on his part. He’s never had that kind of penalty before even before the rule existed. There’s lessons to learn there.”

Wilson, who has led the Tigers in tackles the last two seasons, appeared to lower his head and extend his forearm when he hit Toledo’s Bernard Reedy on a reception across the middle. The play warranted a flag and an immediate ejection. Although the ejection could have been overturned by a review in the booth, the call stood.

“I’m not going to change the way I play at all,” Wilson said. “I’m just going to keep hitting people, hit them a little lower and a little harder.”

Michael Scherer, a redshirt freshman from MICDS in St. Louis, is slated to get the start Saturday in place of Wilson.

Wilson’s loss could be felt for the Tigers against an Indiana squad that likes to move the ball up and down the field at a fast pace. The Hoosiers (2-1) are averaging 50 points per game in three games against Indiana State, Navy and Bowling Green.

Indiana seems to fit that mold of fast throwing quarterbacks as the Hoosiers have allowed just four sacks in three games.

“You just don’t look at the sack numbers, you look at everything,” Pinkel said. “We want to get more sacks, there’s no question about that.”

Although the Tigers haven’t been getting sacks, interceptions are up this season. Missouri had just seven all of last season, but has six already this year.

Pinkel said he can’t explain the reason why the Tigers are getting more interceptions.

Now, the Tigers would like to see the sacks to go with the interceptions.

“Even with the screens they run, that’s no excuse,” Golden said. “If the quarterback’s passing the ball, I feel like we should at least get three sacks a game. That’s the goal we set for ourselves and I feel like we can do it.”

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