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Despite the win, penalties prove to be a problem for Missouri

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The Tigers had 12 penalties for 122 yards throughout the game. Luckily, nine total touchdowns bailed them out.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Almost everything went right for Missouri in its homecoming win over Memphis.

The offense put up 646 all-purpose yards, the defense totaled two interceptions four pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries, and Corey Fatony even got to celebrate another patented 50-yard punt. In a 32-point victory, there isn’t really much to gripe about.

The one negative that stands out, though, is the amount of penalties called on the Tigers.

Missouri was flagged for 12 penalties totaling 122 yards throughout the game, gifting Memphis more opportunities to drive down field that it otherwise wouldn’t have had.

“We haven’t been anywhere close to that (many penalties),” head coach Barry Odom said. “Way, way too many to have an opportunity to win in a close game, and we’ve got to make sure that gets corrected and fixed.”

In the second quarter, the Tigers forced what should have been a three-and-out and were set to take over on offense, but Tre Williams was called for a late roughing the passer penalty to give Memphis the first down. Only a field goal came out of it, but a drive that should have ended with a Missouri possession instead sparked a 17-point run that cut the lead to just four.

Late in the first half, on the most controversial call of the night, Adam Sparks received the boot after being called for targeting on a Johnathon Johnson punt return. While there is the argument that this might have been a solid block, it still left a hole in the Tigers’ secondary.

Luckily enough for Missouri, its 28-point lead mitigated any negative effects from Sparks’ disqualification, and Sparks will not miss any time next week against Kentucky.

“It could’ve been a way harder hit than what it was,” Terez Hall said. “Honestly, I understand what’s going on, you’re trying to make every player safe, which is cool ... I don’t know, I’m just glad we’ve got him back for the next game.”

When it seemed like the penalty plays were behind Missouri in garbage time, Hyrin White was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Even though Memphis ran out the clock afterward to seal the blowout, in a closer game against a tougher opponent, penalties like this one can cost a team the game.

“(We) can’t have those penalties. I put it on myself, I think I had about four of them,” Christian Holmes said. “Can’t have them in big games. Just got to learn from them.”

In the end, the Tigers were called for almost every penalty in the book, from holding to illegal hands to the face. Whether the penalties are caused by a lack of discipline in the heat of the moment or not, cutting down on the amount of flags will be something Missouri has to focus on moving forward.