Moe and Egnew emerge as Mizzou's playmakers
SEP 22, 2010 10:41a ET
By Nate Latsch
September 22, 2010
The Missouri football team went into the 2010 season with questions about who would be the go-to playmaker at wide receiver following the graduation of All-Big 12 wideout Danario Alexander.
After three weeks this season, those questions have been answered.
Sophomore wide receiver T.J. Moe and junior tight end Michael Egnew, who had a combined nine catches and 55 yards and no touchdowns coming into this season, have emerged as junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert�s favorite targets and have made big contributions in the Tigers� three non-conference victories.
�The same guys have been doing it all during two-a-days,� Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said following the Tigers� 27-24 win over San Diego State. �What both those guys are doing is their confidence level is rising.�
Moe, the former high school quarterback who had two catches for eight yards a year ago, has been Missouri�s leading receiver this season with 30 catches for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He currently ranks third among Division I-A players in receptions and 14th in receiving yardage.
�I just try to be sure-handed for (Gabbert) and give him somebody he�s got confidence in and I think I�ve been that for him,� Moe said following the win over Illinois. �Obviously Blaine, he�s the best quarterback in the country so he�s going to put the ball where it needs to be and we just need to go catch it.�
Moe�s 68-yard catch-and-run touchdown reception with 51 seconds left on Saturday lifted the Tigers to a dramatic 27-24 come-from-behind victory over the upset-minded Aztecs and a 3-0 record.
The 6-foot sophomore from Fort Zumwalt West High School in O�Fallon, Mo., who had uncharacteristically dropped two passes in the first quarter, said humbly that he was glad he could help his team.
Pinkel called it a great player making a great play in a big-time situation.
�That�s how you know a player,� Egnew said. �When you�re down, you have adversity. The guy that makes a play, that�s how you know if you�re a player or not, if you can make it in the face of adversity. He did a heck of a job.�
Egnew�s career performance on Saturday helped the Tigers stay in the game. He had 13 catches for 145 yards and has 29 receptions � which ranks fourth among Division I-A players � for 257 yards and one touchdown this season.
�He knows he�s good now.� Pinkel said after the game. �He knows, �Hey, I have a chance to be a really good player, maybe a great player.� He just made a lot of plays.�
In his first two seasons, Egnew had seven catches for 47 yards.
The 6-6, 235-pound tight end from Plainview, Texas, admitted following Saturday�s game that he�s a lot more confident now.
�Just catching the ball more obviously and getting more playing time helps, too,� Egnew said. �Just catching the ball and doing what I can do.�
Gabbert, who has thrown for 852 yards and four touchdowns, said he has confidence in all of the Tigers wide receivers.
�All of our receivers, they are doing an awesome job,� he said. �I know they are going to be with me there till the end fighting, having my back on every single play. It�s really comforting to have guys like T.J., Michael, Wes (Kemp), Jerrell (Jackson) ready to step up at any point in time.�
Jackson and Kemp, Mizzou�s other starting wideouts, have combined for 17 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown. Jackson also made a key block to prevent two defenders from catching Moe on his big play.
Moe was asked after the San Diego State game if his confidence was shaken at all after those two early dropped passes on Saturday.
�I wasn�t shaken,� he said. �We talk about refocusing all the time. I was like, Blaine�s a great quarterback and he�s going to have it to where I get another chance and we�re going to get open. This offense, a lot of it is good players but a lot of it is this offense is built to get guys open. For the last however many years, there have been guys running free. It is a lot to do with the system. It�s a really good system and it�s gonna get us open.�