Slow out of the gates: Turnovers and missed opportunities cost Racers

A crowd of 9,848 gathered Saturday evening at Roy Stewart Stadium to watch the Racers take on the Central Arkansas Bears. || Andy McLemor / Contributing Photographer

A crowd of 9,848 gathered Saturday evening at Roy Stewart Stadium to watch the Racers take on the Central Arkansas Bears. || Andy McLemor / Contributing Photographer

It’s only two games into the season, but the Racers are just 3-9 in scoring attempts inside the red zone.

The lack of execution has left too many points on the field and not on the scoreboard, lending to an 0-2 record and tough start to the season. The most recent loss was a 42-20 drubbing Sept. 7 at home to the No. 20 Central Arkansas Bears.

The loss particularly stung senior quarterback Casey Brockman, who threw three interceptions on possible scoring drives and missed several open receivers downfield for big gains and potential points.

“When you miss as many throws as I missed and made as many red-zone turnovers as I made, you just can’t win a game like that no matter who you’re playing,” Brockman said. “You just can’t win a game when you’re playing like that.”

The Central Arkansas offense didn’t make it much easier for Brockman and the Racers, as Bears quarterback Wynrick Smothers tossed four touchdowns in the first half, putting Murray State in a deep 28-7 hole early on in the second quarter.

Head Coach Chris Hatcher was quick to remove all of the blame from Brockman’s shoulders, pointing to several key factors affecting the final outcome of the game.

“We made way too many mistakes and didn’t finish drives,” Hatcher said. “We got behind in a big hole early, we were inconsistent on our special teams which is something that has been plaguing us, but I saw enough good things out of our team that are correctable things in order for us to move forward and I still think we have a good football team.”

The mistakes have hopefully been corrected just in time to hit the road and face the Missouri State Bears, who are looking for vengeance from the last time the two teams met in 2010.

In an October Homecoming game, Murray State and Missouri State combined for 131 points, as the Racers escaped with a thrilling 72-59 victory after scoring 27 points in the final frame. Though 5-1 against the Bears, the Racers lone defeat came to Missouri State on the road. Junior linebacker Qua Huzzie, who was named Pepsi Athlete of the Week for his stellar play against Central Arkansas, said the defense hasn’t made many adjustments since week one and the team is just looking for more consistent play on the outside.

“They run the spread, so they have a little bit of run and a little bit of pass,” Huzzie said. “They hardly screen, so we’re going to come in and try to stop the run and hope our DBs come in and stop the pass and they have nowhere to go.”

Junior running back Jordan Morrow, who scored his first Racer touchdown against Central Arkansas in dazzling fashion using a spin move to juke his defender, said working the linebackers would be key to breaking the defense for a big play.

“They run an odd defense, which means the running backs will have to recognize the linebackers walking up two at the line,” Morrow said. “We’ll have to pick up the two linebackers blitzing to protect Casey, and so

we’ve been working on picking up blitzes in practice.”

“We play a good Missouri State team this weekend, Hatcher said,” a team that has played two good FBS opponents to start the season. It’s kind of hard to tell what they got because, like us at Florida State, they’re just playing some better players. The schedule has not gotten any easier for us, and to go onthe road and play a team of this caliber is going to be a big test again for our team early in the season.”

Kickoff is 7 p.m. this Saturday at Plaster Field in Springfield, Mo.

The game will be televised on the Racer TV Network and broadcast on the radio at Froggy 103.7 FM.

Story by Edward Marlowe, Staff Writer