Missouri heads into Oklahoma State with new quarterback

Friday, October 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Long before Kirk Farmer started to look like a quarterback who could someday lead Missouri past Nebraska, some had those hopes pegged on a recruit from Powder Springs, Ga.

Maybe that's just because he has a name made for college football. On Saturday against Oklahoma State, Darius Outlaw _ and the Tigers _ find out if he's got the game to go with it.

``In a lot of ways, it's like starting all over again,'' said Missouri coach Larry Smith. ``Particularly with the quarterback.''

Farmer is probably out for the rest of the season after breaking his left clavicle in a 42-24 loss to then top-ranked Nebraska. It's the second straight year the Tigers (1-3, 0-1 Big 12) have lost Farmer in the middle of the season, and the results the first time around were disastrous.

``Last year, I felt it was like somebody took the air out of a balloon on the sideline when he went down,'' Smith said.

Missouri staggered after Farmer broke his leg against Iowa State, losing four of its next five games and getting shut out in three.

That leaves Outlaw in a precarious spot. Stepping in for Farmer, who had a career-best 214 yards passing against Nebraska, is one thing. Asking a redshirt freshman to rally a team that's lost its last three games, and has lost several starters to injuries, suspensions and dismissals, is another.

``Mentally, it hasn't really hit me yet,'' Outlaw said. ``I'm going to be the same person. I'm going to laugh and joke and have fun playing football. But we'll see how Saturday hits me.''

Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1) has 18 sacks thus far. Even after giving up 205 yards rushing in a 42-7 loss to Texas last week, the Cowboys are the best team against the run in the Big 12.

Missouri's offensive line didn't allow a sack at Nebraska, and Smith said a repeat performance is required with an inexperienced quarterback like Outlaw getting the start.

``It kind of gives you the impression they're going to line up in every possible front you can imagine,'' Smith said. ``You're not sure where they are going. They're going to be all over the place.''

Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons is trying to fix a secondary abused by Texas quarterback Major Applewhite, who threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns last week. That included a 96-yard touchdown completion that led to five straight scoring drives.

Missouri, Simmons knows, isn't the running team it used to be, and is wondering how well Outlaw will drop into Farmer's place.

``You have to be prepare for the fact he is a pretty good athlete,'' Simmons said. ``I don't know much about him and I don't know how well he throws.''

Outlaw had been getting about half the snaps during the week in practice. Smith said he, like the offense as a whole, has progressed since the team's 62-9 loss at Clemson. Stepping in against Nebraska, Outlaw was 5-for-11 for 34 yards and an interception.

``Kirk progressed every week and that's what I'm going to do,'' Outlaw said. ``I'm not going to be perfect, but I'm going to progress. I'm going to get my teammates to make plays and I'm going to try and make some plays myself.''

He'll have to do it without wide receiver John Dausman, whose career is over after he tore two ligaments in his left knee against Nebraska. That, combined with the dismissal of Travis Garvin, leaves the Tigers without their top two receivers

``It's funny,'' Smith said. ``I've been in coaching now for 38 years and you can never figure that out. I've had years with no injuries, and other years where we've had a lot.''