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  1. Mizzou Searching For Answers Behind Injured Russell Hansbrough

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    “One play into the season? Really? Oh, no. Is that THE sideline?”


    I imagine that was the reaction most Mizzou fans had after watching starting running back Russell Hansbrough scamper down the sideline for 20 yards on his first carry of the 2015 season, only to see him limp toward the trainers moments later. A Southeast Missouri State defender had rolled up onto Hansbrough’s ankle. He came back for one more carry later in the quarter before shutting it down for the day.



    “That first play that he had, that was typical of what we’ve seen (at fall camp),” Pinkel said. “He’s just a different player than he was a year ago, and a year ago he was pretty good. He’s going to be okay, which is a good thing, but I was really frustrated for him, and for us, because he’s a difference-maker with the football. So hopefully we can get him back.”


    It sounds like Hansbrough will be back on Saturday. He told the media on Monday that he would have been able to play if circumstances were different. That is to say, if Missouri were playing Georgia as opposed to SEMO, Hansbrough would have gone back into the football game. Alas, he went to the locker room, showered, and came out of the locker room wearing street clothes and eating a cheeseburger, according to the ESPN broadcast.


    But what happened to the Tigers’ rushing attack after Hansbrough left the game was something that Mizzou fans should keep an eye on. Hansbrough rushed for 23 yards on his only two carries of the game. Backup running backs Ish Witter, Tyler Hunt, Morgan Steward and Chase Abbington combined for 72 yards on 24 carries, good for 3.0 yards-per-carry. That’s not going to cut it against a conference foe. It’s certainly not good enough against an FCS opponent.


    “I just think they have to play more,” head coach Gary Pinkel said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “Ish did some really good things. We’ll get Hunt back to 100%. He was suffering with a groin up until that game. Morgan’s getting better. A few weeks from now he might be 100 percent. And we’ll bring Abbington in and get him ready to play, too. Obviously, if we get Russell back, and he stays healthy, that will take care of a lot of problems.”


    This isn’t the Tigers’ run game that we’ve grown accustomed to over the past couple years. Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy rushed for at least 500 yards on better than five yards-per-carry in each of the past two seasons. The last time the Tigers’ backfield had such little depth behind a proven starter was in 2012. Kendial Lawrence was the starter, and then-backups Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough combined for less than 100 carries on the season.


    The running backs weren’t the only ones that carry the burden for the team’s rushing performance on Saturday, though. The offensive line also didn’t have its best day after All SEC-caliber center Evan Boehm sprained his right ankle. Boehm hurt himself on the Tigers’ second play from scrimmage. He was able to play for the remainder of the half, but he came out of the tunnel in street clothes and a boot after halftime. With their leader out and a two first-time starters getting their first action of major college football, the Tigers struggled to consistently win at the point of attack.


    “It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t the best,” Boehm said on Monday. “We’re going to go out there this week and we’re going to correct that. We showed some weaknesses that we have on the offensive line. And that’s the same film that Arkansas State is getting. They’re going to attack those weaknesses.”



    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


    Boehm said that Alec Abeln and Nate Crawford made some uncharacteristic mistakes in their Mizzou debut. Abeln was moved from left guard to center after Boehm went down, which certainly didn’t help things. Add in a solid SEMO defensive front, and you have the makings for a rough day up front.


    “A lot of it, we’re one guy away every time,” offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said. “You have four guys on the right guy, or five guys on the right guy, and one guy misses a block. That’s what I mean when I’m talking about being consistent.”


    The offensive line and running backs will both look for some sort of consistency as they take the field again on Saturday against Arkansas State. A 2.7 yards-per-carry  performance against SEMO results in the game staying closer than you want for longer than you want. The same type of performance against a solid Arkansas State team could be much more devastating.


    “I don’t think the score of the USC game showed it, but they’re a dang good defense,” Boehm said. “It’s going to be another tough game for us. It’s hard to win in division one football… It’s going to be at their place, a night game, and their season opener. I know they’re excited, and we’re just as excited.”



  2. The Big Show: Troy Schulte

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    Troy Schulte covers Arkansas State for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to preview Saturday’s matchup between the Tigers and the Red Wolves.




  3. Mizzou Media Day: Coaches & Players Sound Off

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    The Mizzou coaches and players met with the media on Monday in order to break down the team’s 34-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State, and to preview the Tigers’ upcoming game against Arkansas State.


    The big topics of the day were, naturally, freshmen standouts Drew Lock and Terry Beckner Jr. The coaches and players also broke down the struggles of the running game, the injuries to Evan Boehm and Russell Hansbrough, and the importance of preparation before the team travels for their first road game of the season on Saturday.




  4. The BK Lounge: Lock(ed) Up, Running in the Mud & #DLineZou, Take Two

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    Week one is officially in the books, which means it’s time to break down what took place in Mizzou’s 34-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State. This will be a new weekly feature on It’ll be our way to put some closure on the weekend’s game, and move on to the next week’s opponent.


    1) Lock(ed) Up: Drew Lock performed the way many of us expected. He was 6-10 for 138 yards and a touchdown. After charting his throws, I do think it’s important to note that he made a lot of quick, one-read passes. That’s not to say he’s not capable of doing more – he is, and he showed as much on the 78-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hunt – but it’s something to keep in mind.



    I had Lock throwing three corner routes (2-3), two tight end flair routes (2-2), two bubble screens (1-2 with a drop), a fade (dropped), a 10-yard curl (drop), and a wheel (?) route that resulted in Tyler Hunt’s insane touchdown. Of his 10 pass attempts, 9 were catchable and three were dropped. All in all, a hell of a debut for the true freshman quarterback.



    2) Maukvember? It’s easy to forget Maty Mauk’s performance after watching Drew Lock, but Missouri’s redshirt junior quarterback had a pretty darn good day himself. Mauk finished the day 12-22 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The completion percentage looks like ‘vintage Maty’, but it’s a bit deceiving.



    I counted three passes from Mauk that were dropped, and one pass to Sean Culkin that was catchable, but I wouldn’t classify it as a ‘drop’, per-se. Two of those drops proved to be costly, as both would have resulted in touchdowns. Add in Culkin’s near tight-wire act along the back of the end zone that resulted in another touchdown coming off the board, and you can see that Mauk had a pretty solid day, all things considered. A 16-22 for 220 yards, four touchdowns and one interception type of day was not out of the realm of possibility.


    3) Running in the mud? Starting running back Russell Hansbrough ran for 20 yards on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage. Mizzou had 10 yards on its next 13 carries. That ain’t great, obviously. Hansbrough went down with an ankle sprain, and All SEC-caliber center Evan Boehm hobbled around with an ankle sprain for much of the 1st half, after a SEMO player rolled up on his leg on the second play from scrimmage. It’s fair to expect your offense to struggle when two of its best offensive players go down to injury. But the extent to which Missouri struggled running the ball in the first half is a concern.


    That said, the running game did improve in the second half. The Tigers ran the football 19 times for 68 yards after the half, an average of 3.6 yards-per-carry. You would like to see that higher against an FCS opponent, but at least they improved from their 1.3 yards-per-carry in the first half.


    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


    As for who is to blame, I’m not sure one party deserves more credit than another. It’s not like the offensive line was opening gaping holes that the running backs flat-out missed Trent Richardson style. But the backs also didn’t create much of their own good-fortune. The backup running back position was very much a question before week one, and Missouri’s game against SEMO did nothing but solidify that as one of the biggest question marks going forward.


    4) WR-U? These wide receivers won’t be mistaken for the 2013 team’s that featured Dorial Green-Beckham, L’Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas, Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt, but they’re certainly not the liability that many believed them to be. There were drop issues here and there, sure. And Mauk had to coach up Nate Brown after he broke the wrong way on a route, and DeSean Blair after he stopped short of where the football was thrown – a play that nearly resulted in an interception. However, the receivers did make some plays.


    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


    J’Mon Moore went up and high-pointed the football in a way that coaches will be showing their players for weeks to come. Nate Brown ran crisp routes, created separation and sustained blocks down the field that allowed receivers to gain extra yards on a few separate occasions. I also like what I saw from Keyon Dilosa on those quick bubble screens. He could be a guy that this team can go to three or four times a game for some quick offense. Add in Sean Culkin and Jason Reese, who masquerade as wide receivers more often than they’re in-line as a true “tight end”, and you have the makings of a really solid position group heading into the more difficult portion of the 2015 season.


    5) #DLineZou Take Two: This defensive line won’t rack up 40+ sacks the way the Tigers did each of the past two seasons. But they put constant pressure on SEMO’s quarterback, and I really liked what I saw from Mizzou’s young players. Charles Harris was active early, and never really slowed down. Terry Beckner Jr. seemed to get better as the game went along, as one would expect for a kid getting his first action on a division one football field. Rickey Hatley was the biggest surprise performer. Coaches have said all throughout fall camp that Hatley among the best Mizzou defensive linemen. On Saturday, we saw why. He was making the types of plays that Lucas Vincent made last season, collapsing the pocket and forcing running backs out of their lane.


    Oh, and there was this Kenya Dennis sack, too.



    Add in the fact that Nate Howard has one of the fastest get-offs that I’ve ever seen from a freshman, and the Tigers are really building something along this defensive line.



    6) Oh, Brother. My goodness, Kentrell Brothers. 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and a blocked quick punt. And, honestly, the stats don’t quite indicate just how active Brothers was throughout the day. David Morrison had a great stat in his “Snap Decisions” post – “Brothers’ 16 tackles came in 51 snaps, or 3.19 snaps per tackle.” That ish is bananas. B-a-n-a-n-a-s.


    7) #NoFlyZone: Mizzou’s secondary allowed 56 passing yards. Total. Oh, and Kenya Dennis is still really good at this football thing.



    That’s it for today. We’ll be back next week with our breakdown of Mizzou vs. Arkansas State. Hopefully we’ll be breaking down a 2-0 Tigers team before they come back home to take on UCONN.


  5. The Big Show: Bill Connelly

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    Bill Connelly of SB Nation joined Matt and BK for his weekly appearance on The Big Show to break down Mizzou’s 34-3 win over SEMO. Hear Bill every Monday on The Big Show from 4-6 pm on ESPN 103.1 FM in Columbia or online at


  6. The Sports Wire: Anthony Becht

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    Anthony Becht is on the call for Mizzou vs. SEMO. He joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss his early impressions on the Tigers, and what he expects to see at Faurot Field this afternoon.


  7. The Sports Wire: Paul Bessire

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    Paul Bessire of simulates every game 50,000 times before the game is played. Where does his system project Mizzou to finish this season? And who is the favorite to win the World Series? The answer may surprise you.


  8. The Big Show: Kim Anderson

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    Mizzou basketball coach Kim Anderson joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss the Tigers on the Prowl, and how the Missouri basketball team is progressing as fall practice gets going.


  9. College Football Coaches Sound Off on Maty Mauk

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    ESPN released a really interesting ranking of the SEC quarterbacks. And while their ranking system seems to be flawed – they don’t take into account current backup quarterbacks, but do look at 2016 and 2017 recruits, which penalizes Missouri for having Drew Lock already on campus – the quotes that ESPN analysts Sam Khan Jr. and Derek Tyson got from college football coaches about Missouri’s starting quarterback Maty Mauk were hugely interesting.


    “I think that guy is a hell of a player,” one SEC defensive coordinator told Khan and Tyson. “He can make plays in the fourth quarter. That’s his M.O. He gets it done. It isn’t always pretty, but I thought he played really well.”


    The numbers bear that out, of course. Mauk completed 56 percent of his passes for 8.5 yards per attempt with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the fourth quarter of 2014 games. Those are much better numbers than his 53 percent completion percentage for 6.0 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in the first three quarters.


    Another head coach said he “isn’t as sold on him as others are,” and a defensive coach who faced Mauk last season called him “very average.”


    “Smart,” the defensive coach said. “Does not put the football at risk. Average arm. His instincts are good. I don’t think he has a good arm. He throws a good deep ball, but it’s the deep digs and deep out cuts that he can’t make. He’s a very good game-manager. He’s Major Applewhite-ish. He doesn’t make mistakes. He runs the show. They believe in him. But do they fear him? No.”


    This is where I think the quotes start to get really interesting. I don’t think of Mauk as an Alex Smith-esque quarterback. I think of him as more of a playmaker. A guy that can make things happen, and typically looks for the big play. Other coaches, apparently, don’t view him that way.


    “I will say this: If I was in the SEC and I had to win a game with somebody, Mauk does nothing but win,” (the same coach) said. “He does nothing but win with lesser teams. He doesn’t lose the game for you. He ain’t the best one, but he ain’t going to lose for you. If you put Maty Mauk at LSU, they might not lose a game.”


    Another quote, another reference to Mauk being a good game manager. I do find it interesting that this coach sees Missouri as a “lesser” team despite Marcus Lucas, Dorial Green-Beckham, Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and L’Damian Washington (Mauk’s top receivers over the past two years) each spending some time with NFL teams. Also, Mauk’s offensive line has included Justin Britt (2nd round pick), Mitch Morse (2nd round pick), Evan Boehm and Connor McGovern, both of whom will be drafted in 2016. So, has he really done “more with less”, or is the perception among college coaches simply slow to change? I think it’s more of the latter, which is also interesting.


  10. The Big Show: Erin Unerstall previews Mizzou vs. SEMO

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    Erin Unerstall covers the Southeast Missouri State football team for the Southeast Missourian. She joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to preview the upcoming matchup between Mizzou and SEMO.