Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Before this season started, Missouri center Evan Boehm was named to the Rimington Award and Outland Trophy watch lists. The awards, respectively, go to the best center and interior lineman in the country. Boehm, one of the Tigers’ representatives at Southeastern Conference Media Days, planned to aim high this year.
Saturday, he took that a little too literally.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel estimated his center had eight high snaps in the Tigers’ 31-27 home loss to Indiana. Though none resulted in turnovers, it added to the workload for quarterback Maty Mauk, who was already facing constant pressure from the Hoosiers’ offensive line.
“As we all know, it’s difficult quarterbacking when the ball’s all over the place,” Pinkel said. “It’s tough enough as it is.”
Boehm is trying to leave it in the past.
“I had a day,” Boehm said. “And I don’t have an excuse for it. I don’t say, ‘This is why I did this. This is why I did that.’”
Boehm, a 6-foot-3 315-pound junior, said when watching tape he noticed he was flicking his wrist and sending the ball high.
But it wasn’t just a mechanical issue.
“It’s really a mental thing,” offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said. “Honestly, I’ve been there, done that. You start thinking about it instead of just doing it, and that was the issue.”
Ricker played center for Missouri and was a Rimington semifinalist in 2001. Boehm said having a coach who has played his position is beneficial.
“He’s the one that really calms me down and makes me realize, ‘Hey, we’re going to be fine. It’s going to be OK,’” Boehm said. “Everybody has those days, and mine just happened to come on Saturday.”
Ricker compared Boehm’s difficulties to a second baseman being unable to make the short throw to first, a la Chuck Knoblauch. Offensive coordinator Josh Henson also brought up the baseball comparison. Pinkel, at the expense of the media scrum, chose a different sports analogy.
“If you’ve ever golfed — and I know you are all such great athletes that you have golfed — your putting’s not working, and you’re just, you’re struggling. You just keep doing it,” he said.
A Lee’s Summit West grad, Boehm said it helped after the game to have family live so close.
“They came up and they said, ‘You know what happened.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I do know what happened.’” he said, referring to his disappointing game. “They just made me forget about it. We sat there and we talked, and it was good being around family.”
Mauk added: “Being a coach’s kid, he’s kind of like me. I’m beating myself up, too, but I think he’s moved past it. He beat himself up maybe that day, but he’s moved past it, and he’s ready to focus and get ready to go this week.”
Mauk and Boehm, whom Pinkel referred to as best friends, stayed after practice Sunday to get in 25 extra snaps. Missouri’s coaches said during that practice, the Tigers’ first since the loss, Boehm snapped flawlessly.
“You get it out of your system,” Ricker said. “He didn’t have one bad snap. It’s amazing.”
But for Boehm, who gets an immediate snap report from Mauk after each play, it’s not amazing. It’s what he expects.
“They should be perfect, and that’s the standard I hold to myself,” he said. “That’s why I get so upset when I hear I do have a bad snap, when it’s high and over Maty’s head and all that stuff. … I just probably needed to focus on it and go out there and get that muscle memory back. Just go out there and execute.”