With Farmer out, Outlaw gets his shot as starting quarterback

Thursday, October 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Darius Outlaw is taking over at quarterback for Missouri with the attitude of every athlete _ relishing the chance to start, but disappointed that it comes because of an injury to a teammate.

Outlaw, redshirted as a freshman, now is in charge after Kirk Farmer suffered a broken left clavicle Saturday in the 42-24 loss to second-ranked Nebraska.

He will make his first start this Saturday against Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) as the Tigers try to stop a three-game losing streak.

``Every guy wants this shot,'' Outlaw said. ``This is mine. Kirk did a great job though, and I have big shoes to fill.''

Farmer passed for a career-high 214 yards in less than three quarters against Nebraska, and it seemed like the sophomore was starting to click with Missouri's new offensive scheme. Then Farmer was injured, and the Tigers (1-3, 0-1) found themselves starting over.

``I'm going to go out there and compete,'' Outlaw said. ``I'm going to give it all I've got, no matter if I have the worst game of the year or the best game. It's just not a me-thing anymore, it's a team-thing.''

The Missouri offense demands that quarterbacks read defenses quickly at the line of scrimmage, and then track up to five wide receivers.

It is a challenge for sophomore.

It is the area where Farmer, who was expected to be out at least a month, improved the most as the season went along. It's also the area where Outlaw really has to prove himself.

``As far as throwing accuracy, strength of arm, quickness, athletic ability _ I don't worry about those things,'' coach Larry Smith said. ``It's a matter of when the play is called. He has to go to the line and make a decision.''

Outlaw was the scout team quarterback last season, running plays spelled out on note cards as he mimicked opposing quarterbacks.

``This offense needs a quarterback that can make good decisions rather than just going out and playing,'' Smith said. ``When he was on the scout team, reading plays off cards, he was fantastic because he does have ability, a lot of ability. But there you don't make decisions, decisions are made for you right on the card.''

Smith and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit believe Outlaw has improved his decision-making since spring practice, and the new quarterback agrees.

``The offensive scheme, it's wide open,'' Outlaw said. ``I'm real comfortable with it now. During the spring I wasn't too comfortable, and that showed. As you can see Kirk progressed every week, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to be perfect, but I'm going to progress.''

Outlaw has been marginal so far. He has played in three games, completing 8-of-15 passes for 61 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Against Nebraska, Outlaw hit 5-of-11 passes for 34 yards and showed off his speed with a 29-yard run. But he also was intercepted, and only drove the Missouri offense into scoring position once.

``He came out in a tough situation Saturday and played well,'' said defensive lineman Justin Smith. ``I think no one really expected that from him, except Darius ... The way he played there really showed his character, and the team's not worried at all.''