October 2, 2014

How did it happen? What the Missouri Tigers were able to do to beat South Carolina from the Gamecock perspective (Google Hangout)

Maty Mauk managed to lead the Tigers to a fourth quarter victory.

Maty Mauk managed to lead the Tigers to a fourth quarter victory.

Phil Kornblut, from our sister network, SportstalkSC.com in Columbia, South Carolina was just beaming last year after he cleaned up four pounds of bar-b-que in a bet he made with one of our Missourinet radio affiliates.  This time around, his mood a little somber as he tells me on this Google Hangout that it will be near impossible now for the Gamecocks to win the SEC East.

There are a lot of factors that need to work in their favor, and at the same time, as far as Tiger fans are concerned, Mizzou dodged a huge bullet.

Missouri was down 20-7 and were just 7:25 away from dropping their second game in a row and losing their SEC debut.  The loss would have put the Tigers basically two behind USC, who also has a win over Georgia.  Even though it only would have been one loss, the task of trying to climb out of an early hole may have been too difficult.

Yet, the Tigers somehow found a way.  As Kornblut explains, the weak part of the USC defense was their secondary, but with Maty Mauk losing Jimmie Hunt early in the game and not having Darius White, his options for experienced receivers were down to Bud Sasser and rarely used Sean Culkin.  Offensive coordinator Josh Henson continued to call balance plays of run and pass and it just wasn’t working when Mauk would throw on first down.  At one point he was 1 for 8 for eight yards on first down pass plays.

Then in the blink of eye, it changed with one pass to Sasser for 41 yards.  Just like that, the momentum of the game changed.

Shane Ray returns as SEC defensive line player of the Week. Second time this season the junior has been honored.

Mizzou

Mizzou

Missouri junior DE Shane Ray (Kansas City, Mo.) was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Line Player of the Week for his big game this past Saturday as he helped lead Mizzou to a 21-20 comeback win at 13th-ranked South Carolina.

Ray won the award after recording a career-high eight tackles (all solo stops), including 2.0 quarterback sacks, which ties his personal best.

Ray was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his 7-tackle performance in a win over UCF on Sept. 13th, which included four tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Through five games, Ray’s season totals of 8.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss are both tops in the nation. He’s had at least one sack in all five games this season, including a trio of two-sack outings against South Carolina, UCF and Toledo.

Ray and the defense held the USC offense to season low totals in several categories, including points (20), yards (338), passing yards (219) and 1st downs (18).

This marks the third time in 2014 a Tiger has won a weekly conference award. Prior to Ray’s pair of awards, sophomore QB Maty Mauk won the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on September 8th for his play in MU’s win at Toledo.

Tigers left for dead with 7:25 to play in the game, rally behind Mauk’s arm as Mizzou shocks Spurrier’s Gamecocks

Maty Mauk is bringing the Mayor's Cup home to Columbia, Mo.

Maty Mauk is bringing the Mayor’s Cup home to Columbia, Mo.

When South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson hit Pharoh Cooper for a 23 yard touchdown pass with 7:25 to play, it all but sealed the game for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks.

Up to that point, the Mizzou offense continued to struggle, getting only two first downs and never getting the ball past their 32 yard line.

On the ensuing kickoff, down 20-7, Marcus Murphy returned the ball out to the 32 and one play changed the momentum.  Maty Mauk fired a pass downfield to a backpedaling Bud Sasser who hauled it in for 41 yards, giving the Tigers the ball at the USC 27.  Mauk then hit Wes Leftwich for 26 yards and Russell Hansbrough, started left, then cut back right and went in for a touchdown making it a six point game in the matter of three plays and 36 seconds.

The Missouri defense held South Carolina to a three and out…their sixth of the game and forced a punt.  Marcus Murphy found a hole and returned it 22 yards to midfield.

Mauk threw two incomplete passes and on 3rd and 10, pitched it to Hansbrough who gained nine.  On 4th and 1, Mauk hit tight end Sean Culkin for a first down keeping the drive alive.  The Tigers got a pass interference call in their favor that gave them another first down at the USC 24 and then Marcus Murphy stormed down to the two.

Stopped three times, the Tigers had to go for it on fourth and goal from inside the one and Hansbrough followed Evan Boehm up the middle and on a second effort scored.  Andrew Baggett, who missed the field goal in overtime last year, added the extra point to give Missouri the lead for the first time since late in the first half.

USC failed to get a first down and Missouri ran out the clock for the improbable comeback.

Mizzou jumps out to early lead, then questionable play calling causes offense to sputter. Tigers trail at the half

Here’s the story.  The Missouri Tigers are trailing 10-7 and have gained just 117 total yards, including just 57 through the air.

After the Tigers opening drive turned into seven points, thanks to a bonehead coaching decision by Steve Spurrier, Mizzou’s offense has sputtered thanks to poor first down play calling from Josh Henson.

Since the TD drive, Mizzou has run 13 plays on first down.  Seven of those were passes.  Maty Mauk is 1-of-7 for eight yards on first down.  The Tigers have run the ball six times on first down, gaining a total of 40 yards.

Mauk started the game without his third best receiver Darius White, who is out with a groin injury and he lost his number two receiver Jimmie Hunt early in the first quarter.  The Tigers are stubbornly trying to pass the ball, long downfield plays on first down with Bud Sasser, Lawrence Lee and Wes Leftwich as his top targets.

Offensive coordinator Henson has two healthy backs averaging 5.2 (Murphy) and 6.3 (Hansbrough) yards per carry.

Why is Mizzou not trying to establish the run with the hopes of opening up the pass game?

1st Quarter Recap

The Head Ball Coach elected to go for it on a fourth down on the opening drive and Kentrell Brothers came up with a big stop giving the Mizzou offense a short field to work with. Russell Hansbrough took a handoff and went 18 yards for a quick touchdown putting Mizzou up 7-0.

After a quick four plays and a punt by USC, the Tigers put together a 14 play drive. Maty Mauk had a scramble on a 3rd and 10 to get a first down. Lawrence Lee, filling in for the injured Jimmie Hunt, made a great catch on a 3rd down play to bring up a 4th and short inside the Gamecocks 40. The Tigers converted with a fourth down run by Hansbrough, but Mizzou came up with no points when Andrew Baggett missed a 48 yard field goal. Braylon Webb mishandled the snap for a split second to throw off the timing.

Carolina came back down and got into Tiger territory with a Dylan Thompson pass completion to Pharoh Cooper for 27 yds to the 43. USC got down into the redzone, but were held to a 33 yard field goal. They are 15 for 15 scoring in the redzone this season with 11 touchdowns.

Tigers lead 7-3.

2nd Quarter Recap

After a 52 yard punt for a touchback gave USC the ball on their 20, Matt Hoch dropped Thompson for a 12-yard sack and on third down Shane Ray sacked Thompson forcing a punt. In the first four games, the Gamecock offensive line gave up just five sacks. Through the first 20 minutes, the Tigers have two.

Later in the quarter, Shane Ray added his second sack of the game.

It appeared as though Mizzou converted on a 3rd and 10 when Mauk hit Bud Sasser on a slant pass, but on the other side of the field, Lawrence Lee was called for offensive pass interference pushing the Tigers back to 3rd and 20 and a punt.

Five plays, 59 yards, including a 24 yard screen pass to Mike Davis. Then on first down from the 17, Davis ran it in untouched to give USC a 10-7 lead with 1:36 to play.

Tigers get ready for first SEC game, while battle tested USC enters this game with momentum (Google Hangout)

Watch Bill Pollock's Google Hangouts on YouTube.

Watch Bill Pollock’s Google Hangouts on YouTube.

South Carolina has comeback from a 52-28 season-opening loss to Texas A&M to win three in a row over East Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt.  The Gamecocks are coming off of a 48-34 win at Vanderbilt last week, and they’ll be home for their fourth home SEC game of the year.

However, just like Missouri, Steve Spurrier’s club has some question marks about his team.  They’ll be shuffling their defensive secondary around for this Saturday night’s game against the Tigers.

Brison Williams will move back to cornerback after starting at safety last week. He had his fourth career interception last week at Vandy and took it back for a touchdown.  True freshman Al Harris Jr. will get the nod at the other cornerback position. T.J. Gurley and Chaz Elder will start at safety against Missouri.

USC defensive end David Johnson will be out for several weeks after suffering a knee injury in the win at Vanderbilt last week.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Gamecocks have only allowed five sacks in four games.  The line has done a great job in protecting QB Dylan Thompson and Mizzou’s defense is predicated off pressuring the thrower.

Offensive guard Cody Waldrop (knee) did not practice again on Wednesday and has been ruled out for Saturday’s contest. Will Sport will make the start at right guard. It will be interesting to see who lines up on the defensive side across from Sport.

The Missouri Tigers are looking for their first win in SEC play against South Carolina.  They only team in the SEC East the Tigers have yet to beat.

What will it take?  What happens with a second loss and just how good are the Gamecocks.  Watch our game preview with Matt Michaels of Missourinet affiliate KTGR and Kevin McCreary from our sister network in Columbia, South Carolina, SportsTalkSC.com.