October 7, 2015

Mizzou/UConn preview: Running game needs a boost and offensive line must play better (VIDEO)

Look for more run plays from Maty Mauk when Mizzou hosts the Huskies (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Look for more run plays from Maty Mauk when Mizzou hosts the Huskies (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

With a game against BYU coming up later in the season at Arrowhead Stadium, the Missouri offense has one more non-conference game to figure out the offensive issues that have plagued the team in the first two weeks of the season, before the start of SEC play.  The Tigers are back home for an 11 a.m. kick against the UConn Huskies, in the first ever meeting between the two teams on the gridiron.

In the first half of last week’s 27-20 win at Arkansas State, Maty Mauk had a 27 yard gain on the ground.  Other than that big scramble, the Mizzou run game produced just 12 yards on their 12 other carries.

So what is the issue?  The injury to Russell Hansbrough is having a bigger impact than expected?  Is the offensive line overrated?  Does the lack of a consistent passing game hurt the ground game?

Joining me to help look at the issues is Seth Merenbloom, Managing Editor campuspressbox.com and podcast co-host of SEC 411.

Seth also gives us his surprises and disappointments through the SEC after two weeks.  Plus, we do talk about the dominating Mizzou defense that should give the Huskies fits.  Take a glance at some of the interesting stats.

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Arkansas State racked up 402 yards of offense against 8th ranked USC. Why this will be a nice road test for Mizzou (VIDEO)

Michael Gordon is Arkansas State's top rusher (photo/astateredwolves.com)

Michael Gordon is Arkansas State’s top rusher (photo/astateredwolves.com)

Arkansas State will play its much-anticipated 2015 home opener Saturday at 6 p.m., when it hosts defending SEC East champion Missouri at a new-look Centennial Bank Stadium.  With fans from Missouri’s Bootheel and just a short drive for Tigers’ fan, Red Wolves play-by-play guy Matt Stoltz thinks the atmosphere in the 30,000 seat stadium will be electric.

Matt joins me on a Google Hangout (watch below) and said there were a lot of encouraging signs from Arkansas State despite losing 55-6 to 8th ranked USC.  The offense put up 402 yards, but turned the ball over four times, which led great field position and easy scores for the Trojans.

The experienced defensive line sacked Cody Kessler four times.  While I think Missouri’s offensive line is still figuring things out and with center Evan Boehm being questionable, Saturday night’s game will be a good test for the group.

Playing their first game this season at Centennial Bank Stadium, the Red Wolves will carry a ten-game winning streak in home openers into the contest. A-State has proven highly successful at the stadium over the last decade, accumulating a 46-10 home record since 2005 for an .821 winning percentage.

Mizzou has won ten-straight true road games. One of the ten-game win streaks will end.

This season’s contest will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools, which also included games in 2004 and 2005. The most recent meeting saw Missouri claim a 41-19 victory in Columbia in 2013.   This was a game that Arkansas State led in the third quarter and were only down eight with 7:30 to play.

Red Wolves by the numbers:

1 100-yard rushing performance for Michael Gordon to become the 8th player in school history with 10+.
2 straight top-25 opponents to open the season for the first time since 2004.
3 players from the state of Missouri — Dalton Ford (Fr., OL), Brendan Weis (Fr.-R, OL), Jonah Hill (So., TE).
4 school records held by J.D. McKissic, including single-game (15), season (103) & career receptions (242).

Tigers look to make it 11 straight road wins, traveling to Arkansas State to face an energetic Red Wolves team (VIDEO)

Follow Bill Pollock on YouTube and check out our other videos

Follow Bill Pollock on YouTube and check out our other videos

Mizzou, coming off their 34-3 victory over Southeast Missouri to kick off the 2015 season, will play their first road game at Arkansas State.  The Red Wolves opened its season with a tough road test at #8 USC, losing 55-6.  The ASU offense managed 402 yards of offense on the night (including 209 rushing yards), but suffered four turnovers as USC put up 509 yards of offense in the win.

Mizzou’s defense was outstanding holding the Redhawks to just three points, led by Kentrell Brothers who, had a career high 16 tackles.

Mizzou has a school record 10-game road winning streak, dating back to Sept. 21, 2013, at Indiana. It is the third-longest streak in the nation, trailing only Ohio State and Florida State.  During this streak Mizzou has:

-39 sacks over the last 10 road games and at least 1.0 sack in nine straight
-13 interceptions and has recovered eight fumbles (21 total TOs)
-Allowed just 21.4 points per game during the streak
-Averaging 38.4 points per game in the streak with just 10 turnovers
-Averaging 5.0 yards per rush during the streak, gaining 175 yards or better on the ground in seven of the 10 games.
-Scored 24 rushing TDs during the streak – opponents have just 26 total TDs during the streak.

However, there are still some questions that need to be answered and while this should be Mizzou’s 11-straight road win, ASU will provide a good test.

Austin Kim from KMIZ-TV/Columbia joins me to look at what Mizzou has done well and how they can improve in week 2.

How some high schools are using video to instantly correct mistakes. It creates a huge advantage, but MSHSAA says it’s legal (VIDEO)

Tim Rulo, the head football coach at Helias Catholic in Jefferson City, used video replays on the sidelines last season at South Callaway and took his team to the Show-Me Bowl.  Blue Springs South head coach Greg Oder was beat a couple of times by teams using video replays and has installed a video system for his Jaguars football team to compete at a higher level.

MSHSAA’s Communications Director, Jason West, tells us that the use of watching videos on the sidelines or in the dugouts is legal and is open for use by any Missouri high school team.  What video replay allows teams to do, particularly in football, is after the offense comes off the field, view plays on a monitor to see how the opposing defense is reacting.  It allows for adjustments.  The same can be said for a team’s defense as well.

Video could also be used by baseball or softball teams, if players want to use video to analyze their swing or for a pitcher to examine their mechanics.

West joins me on our latest discussion as we talk about how to balance technology and fairness in sports.

#Mizzou A.D. Mack Rhoades seems to be adjusting to life in Missouri just fine (VIDEO)

Mack Rhoades and Bill Pollock catch up before the football season (Photo/Kayla Thoenen)

Mack Rhoades and Bill Pollock catch up before the football season (Photo/Kayla Thoenen)

Mack Rhoades, the new Director of Athletics for Mizzou, was in Jefferson City this week to talk with the executives from Learfield Sports, the marketing partner for the Tiger Network and Mizzou Sports Properties.  Our company has had a long and prosperous relationship with the University of Missouri’s athletic department and it was an opportunity for both sides to get to know one another better.

After their meetings, a brief reception was held for Mack and he was gracious enough to take a few minutes to chat with me on camera.

It sounds like he and his family have adjusted to life in Columbia, and he’s bringing some fresh ideas and a great approach to continue to move Mizzou athletics in the right direction.  You’ll see for yourself, he’s a pretty down to earth guy.  After visiting, I’m excited about the future of Mizzou Athletics.  Enjoy our visit in the Learfield Lounge.