Tag Archives: Maty Mauk

A Lack of Talent is the Problem at Mizzou

The Missouri Tigers have problems. Reading those words should not create a shocked expression on your face. This team having problems shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but what should come as a surprise is just how many problems the team has on the field.

Having problems shouldn’t come as a surprise for several reasons. Those reasons include having been garbage last year and having a new coaching staff this year. Not only is the coaching staff new, but the team is led by Barry Odom, who has no previous head coaching experience at the college level. All of this adds up to a bad recipe. But even I didn’t think the recipe would be as bad as it’s been. My preseason prediction was just a little off.

[Seth Merenbloom:  Barry Odom is the New Missouri Tigers Football Coach: Another True Son Comes Home]

You may be asking yourself where the problems start and I have an answer for you. The problems start with talent. This team doesn’t have nearly enough talent on the roster. Sure, Odom is playing primarily with Gary Pinkel’s recruits and Pinkel excelled at finding diamonds in the rough. But there are more cubic zirconia on this roster than diamonds.

There are some players that are legitimate SEC caliber players. I’m talking about guys like Josh Augusta, Terry Beckner Jr. and Aarion Penton. And there are others on the roster who have potential but are still young. Those are players like Drew Lock and Damarea Crockett. But players like this are few and far between at Mizzou.

This lack of talent also means that there is a severe lack of depth. And a lack of depth not only influences the ability for the backups to compete against other SEC rosters, but it also influences how those top tier guys play. I’m not saying that Mizzou’s legitimate SEC caliber players are lazy, but competition breeds results and these players aren’t being pushed in practice.

And that leads me to the most important position on the field: Quarterback.

I was excited when Lock committed to Mizzou. He has the physical tools to be a successful SEC quarterback. I can only hope that he has the mental tools to be a successful SEC quarterback. But what we’ve seen from him so far leads me to question what is going on between his ears. But I am willing to keep my faith in Lock for one reason. He’s still young.

Yes, Lock played last season as a true freshman, but that was due to the situation that now departed quarterback Maty Mauk created. Lock was thrown into the fire when he really wasn’t ready. So I consider this to be his freshman season. Based on that reasoning, this year shouldn’t tell us much about what he will become at Mizzou. My apologies to TJ Moe, but Lock has never been the best quarterback in the SEC. I don’t care how good he looked against Eastern Michigan or Delaware State.

Next year is the year that will tell me what I need to know about Lock. He’ll have been in Josh Heupel’s system for over a year and will be a Junior. If he isn’t able to do more than just throw a pretty ball against teams like Delaware State then Odom and Heupel need to move on from the Lock experiment. And that goes back to one of my original points. To move on from Lock requires there to be depth behind him. Right now that depth just isn’t there. Sure there are fans begging for Marvin Zanders to play significant snaps but i’d be shocked if he created a Mizzou pulse against SEC competition.

Ultimately this all falls on the coaching staff. No, the coaches don’t strap helmets on and play the game, but the coaches are the ones who recruit and put the roster together. The coaches are also responsible for the development of that talent.

The assistant coaching staff that Odom put together is impressive on paper. He hired guys who coached at Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU. But here’s the thing. Those teams had incredible talent so it was easy for those coaches to look like football wizards. So like I said, it starts with recruiting. Who on this staff is going to sign the talent that will make them all look like geniuses? Every Mizzou fan is waiting to find out.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Maty Mauk is Blowing His Missouri Tiger Football Career

Do you know that joke that is premised on “two guys walking into bar?” Sure you do. There are many versions of this joke and I have my own version that goes something like this:

“Billy” Manziel and Maty Mauk walk into a bar. What happens next?

In Manziel’s case, he’s run out of Cleveland. As for Mauk, his resemblance can be seen on video snorting a line of cocaine and the Mizzou athletic department will still take a stance of “we’re just not sure how to handle this.”

To be fair, the guy in the video simply looks like Mauk. It remains to be seen if it is actually the Mizzou quarterback, but the resemblance is uncanny.

Mizzou is once again at a crossroads with Mauk. He was suspended on September 29 for undisclosed reasons. He was reinstated on October 25 only to be suspended again on November 1.

As this video broke, Mack Rhoades and Barry Odom issued a joint statement.

“We are currently gathering information regarding the video in question. This is an issue we take very seriously and one that will not be tolerated within our program. We will take appropriate action once we have all the facts. In the interim, Maty Mauk has been indefinitely suspended from the Mizzou football program.”

Rhoades and Odom are gathering information on the video, as they should. As for taking this issue “very seriously?” I find that doubtful based on Mauk’s track record at Mizzou. Dating all the way back to his first suspension, cocaine was believed to be Mauk’s issue. If Mauk’s issue were being taken seriously, his situation would have been properly vetted prior to his reinstatement on October 25. But it seems that he offered a heart-felt apology to the team at that time and that was good enough for Gary Pinkel.

Many of the local journalists assigned to the Mizzou beat simply looked the other way. Pinkel’s non-statements were good enough for them. Others, like Joe Strauss, dug a little deeper and knew the actual story. It was for this reason that Strauss was considered an enemy of the program by many delusional Mizzou fans.

The “real” journalists, the ones I call “The Pressbox Posse,” were content to sit on the story. They would tell you that Mauk is just a kid and we need to go easy on him. They would also say that we didn’t know that cocaine was the actual issue with Mauk. I said before and i’ll say it again: it was their job as journalists to find the actual story.

Some people who are close to the program knew about Mauk’s issues and reported on those issues. These people were “just bloggers” and “just podcasters” so they weren’t taken seriously. The Pressbox Posse cast these bloggers aside and said that stories needed to be more the rumor and innuendo. Perhaps if The Pressbox Posse had done their jobs, they would have learned that the stories were in fact more than rumor and innuendo.

It is one thing for the media to sit on a story like this, but it was and is an all together different story for the athletic department and Gary Pinkel to have sat on the story. If they truly cared about Mauk and if they truly had an understanding of his drug problem back in September, Pinkel and Rhoades would have suspended him at least until the 2016 season. To think that a problem like this could be cleaned up in a matter of a few weeks is just as immature as Mauk is himself.

Mauk appears to need serious help more than he needs football in his life. As Barry Odom wisely said in regards to Terry Beckner Jr.’s arrest, even one poor decision can have an impact on a person’s life but a single decision does not have to define a person. Mauk has now made enough poor decisions that they have rightfully defined his life up to this point. It is now up to the adults in his life to do everything in their power to help the kid even if that means no longer playing football.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Featured image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Gary Pinkel and His Missouri Tiger Football Program: Keeping the Hounds of Hell at Arms Length.

I have previously written about the relationship between most of the local Columbia, MO sports media and Gary Pinkel. That article revolved around the unknown reasons behind Maty Mauk’s suspension and the media’s unwillingness to not only dig for the story but also their willingness to simply accept Gary Pinkel’s canned answers.

Last Tuesday, Mauk was reinstated to the program. He had offered a heart-felt apology to his teammates and all was forgiven.

The night after Mauk’s reinstatement, St. Louis Post Dispatch writer Joe Strauss tweeted this out to his followers:

Offering more specific events surrounding the Wednesday situation was the Mizzodcast:

It is still unknown as to why Mauk was ever suspended to begin with. Rumors suggested that it had to do with cocaine trafficking and personal use of cocaine. While these accusations were all rumors, they are rumors that were not particularly difficult to believe. Going back to at least the late 1990s, the athletic department has had relationships with representatives of the Columbia, MO cocaine market.

It turns out that Mauk’s apology was all for naught and Strauss and the Mizzodcast had a head start on the next downfall of Maty Mauk. Once Sunday afternoon rolled around, Maty Mauk had been suspended for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Interested in Gary Pinkel’s comments? Well, here you go. These comments are courtesy of David Morrison’s twitter feed:

Yes, Pinkel seriously started out with a shout-out to the Royals. Way to go coach. How could we possibly question you and your program since you gave a shout-out to the Royals. Pinkel went on from there:

So a lot of other places would try to solve the problem without doing what Pinkel does. What exactly does Pinkel do? We don’t know because he won’t tell us. We’re just supposed to take his word for it. The media just takes his word for it, so the public is forced to take his word for it. Guess what, coach? When you veil your program in secrecy you only make situations like this worse than they otherwise would have been.

Pinkel also continued his rhetoric by saying that he does what is right. I beg to differ, coach. Every program has their issues, but those programs are national powers, which means that the national media is all over them. When those programs fail to do what is right, they are placed under scrutiny straight from the proverbial Hounds Of Hell. Pinkel’s Missouri Tigers are not powers and therefore are protected from this kind of scrutiny. Pinkel can say he always does what is right because he knows that nobody in the media is there to hold him accountable.

Speaking of accountability, many Missouri fans believe that Pinkel owes the public nothing. I’ve got news for Pinkel and those fans: Missouri is a public institution and that means the state of Missouri taxpayers are paying Pinkel’s salary. So yes, Pinkel owes us all considerably more than he is offering. Pinkel has no problem asking the university and the boosters for more money for his program, but believes none of us can handle the truth.

It’s now to the point that the only person Pinkel is protecting is himself. By spouting his tired rhetoric, he is only looking out for his legacy. The question I have is this: How much leeway is Mack Rhoades willing to give Pinkel?

SEC Football Power Rankings: Week 8

Well, this is a first for me as a writer here. I try to shy away from ranking teams because of the upset fans that will inevitably tell me their team shouldn’t be wherever they are on my list of rankings. Every fan thinks that way about their team. Sometimes I think that way about my teams. When ESPN’s SEC Power Rankings for Week 7 had 1-4 as LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, then Florida, I felt like they were wrong. Florida deserved to be third, NOT Texas A&M. Luckily for me, Florida is third this week…because even though I’m a biased fan, I was right. So there …HA! Now I’m sure at least one person will read this and have similar sentiments about whatever I rank their team, but at this point in the season I really couldn’t care much less. So here we go, my inaugural SEC Power rankings and the explanations of my choices are all below.

  1. LSU (7-0): LSU is the lone undefeated team left in the SEC and as such, there was no question in my mind when it came to their #1 ranking. Star RB (and probable Heisman trophy winner) Leonard Fournette has been unstoppable on his feet this season. And on top of that, LSU QB Brandon Harris has now had over 200 passing yards in each of their last three games. With the rest of their offense finally becoming a real threat, LSU is going to be a tough team to slow down as they head toward the end of the season. Next game: @ Alabama, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.
  2. Alabama (7-1): Alabama, as always, is a force to be reckoned with. Last week they played a dangerously close game against the visiting Volunteers in Tuscaloosa. But, the Alabama defense still asserted their dominance when it came down to crunch time. Not to mention that Alabama was coming off a brutal schedule throughout the past few weeks and Tennessee was coming off a refreshing bye weekend. What we do know about Alabama is that they’re beatable. But just how beatable can a team with such an imposing defense be even if their offense is pretty average? Next game: vs. LSU, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.
  3. Florida (6-1): We learned nothing new about the Gators last week while they had a bye. But we still know a few things from their previous games. The Gators have a dominant defense, led by one of the best secondary units in the country. They also have more playmakers on offense this year than they ever did under former coach Will Muschamp. But, their kicking game is still a huge problem. And in close games, that may just come back to bite them. Thankfully they still have a stellar 4th down conversion percentage in case they’d rather not risk kicking the ball. Go ahead and ask FSU about those risks, Gator fans. Next game: vs. UGA, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
  4. Ole Miss (6-2): Ole Miss is still a very confusing team in my mind. They beat Alabama early in the season but got dominated by Florida just a couple games later. They killed New Mexico State, but then got handled by Memphis. Last week they bounced back with a big win (20-point margin) over Texas A&M. Who is this Ole Miss team? I really don’t know. I guess it depends on the week. But they’ve proven to be a tough team to beat on their good weeks and I’m predicting at least a couple more good weeks for them this season. Next game: @ Auburn, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  5. Mississippi State (6-2): Mississippi State is an interesting team. They actually have a solid defense when you look at their statistics. What they don’t have is a solid offense involving any player(s) besides their QB Dak Prescott. Dak Prescott is dominant. He obviously leads their team in passing yards with over 2,000 so far this season. But he also leads the team in rushing yards. Overall, he’s been responsible for 20 TDs this season and has only thrown one interception. The Bulldogs live and die by Prescott, but lately they’ve just been living. Next game: @ Missouri, Nov. 5, 9 p.m.
  6. Tennessee (3-4): I know that a lot of you think it’s crazy to rank a team with a losing record so high. And I’m okay with that because I know I can support this ranking. Their losses this season have only been by a combined 17 points. And three of those losses were to teams currently ranked in the Top 15 of the AP poll. The Vols really are on the verge of being a good team again. They finally managed to beat Georgia this season and maybe that will be the boost they need to be able to close other games for the rest of the season. Their biggest weakness right now is in their kicking game, but leave it to Butch Jones to find a way to straighten that one out. Next game: @ Kentucky, Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.
  7. Texas A&M (5-2): The Aggies started out the season 5-0, but have since lost their last two games. Their first five opponents may have factored into how they made it so far into the season without losing a game. But after facing Alabama and Ole Miss, they Aggies have now lost by a collective 38 points…over double what the point differentials from Tennessee’s four losses add up to. And that’s why Texas A&M is barely in the top half of my SEC power rankings. But maybe if they switch things up at QB this week, they’ll shut me up. Next game: vs. South Carolina, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  8. Georgia (5-2): Georgia suffered more than just an L in their win-loss column when they traveled to Tennessee a few weeks ago. They lost their star RB Nick Chubb on the first snap of the game. That loss likely helped the Vols get a win over Georgia that day. But there’s still no excuse for how they fared against Alabama at home with a healthy Chubb. They also barely beat Missouri in a really ugly game a couple weeks ago. After their bye week, we know nothing new about the Bulldogs. But this weekend we should find out just about all we need to know about Mark Richt’s squad. And I don’t expect that to be a particularly positive result. Next game: vs. Florida, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
  9. Arkansas (3-4): Arkansas has had four pretty bad losses…their two non-conference losses being the worst of those. They lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in non-conference play and have lost to Alabama and Texas A&M in conference play. But even two of their three wins haven’t been so pretty. They barely beat Tennessee and they also won a ridiculously high-scoring game against Auburn by only eight points. Arkansas is just an unimpressive team this season, even though they have all the potential in the world to be a solid squad. Potential doesn’t mater if you don’t play up to it, though. Next game: vs. Tennessee-Martin, Oct. 31, 4 p.m.
  10. Auburn (4-3): If Florida was the good surprise of the season in SEC football, then Auburn was the bad surprise. Although their record is still a winning one, that’s only because they’ve already played three of their non-conference games. Three of those four wins were against the likes of Louisville, Jacksonville State (in OT), and San José State. Their only conference win was over Kentucky and just by three points. They’ve already lost to LSU, Mississippi State, and Arkansas. With Muschamp’s underperforming defense and weak offense, I expect them to lose to at least three of their four remaining SEC opponents. Next game: vs. Ole Miss, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  11. Kentucky (4-3): For a team that’s used to being the perennial laughing stock of SEC football, Kentucky has had a decent season so far. They lost to Florida, Auburn, and Mississippi State. But, they beat South Carolina and Missouri. I wouldn’t call this a good team, but I would say it’s an improvement for their program. And sometimes turning a program like Kentucky’s around takes baby steps. Winning at least one of their three remaining conference games would go a long way in instilling confidence in this team that they can be relevant in the coming years. Next game: @ Tennessee, Oct. 31, 7:30 pm
  12. South Carolina (3-4): There’s not really much I can say about South Carolina this season. Now that Head Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier) is gone, South Carolina is really in a tough spot. Their only conference win so far was at home against Vanderbilt. Other than that they beat UNC (by 4 points) and UCF (by 17 points). They have racked up a whole bunch of losses in the SEC so far. And their three remaining SEC games won’t be easy unless South Carolina can find a way to finally get something going on offense. And even their defense could use some work. Overall, this season has been and will continue to be a struggle for the Gamecocks. Next game: @ Texas A&M, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  13. Vanderbilt (3-4): With their first SEC win under coach Derek Mason, the Commodores are no longer currently the worst team in the conference. Though that isn’t saying much, because of the way their schedule works out, Vanderbilt could technically still win the SEC East. Even though they don’t have many wins going for them, the majority of their losses weren’t by huge margins. And like many other SEC teams, they have a really tough defense. They may not even win another conference game for the rest of the season, but one is better than none, right? Next game: @ Houston, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.
  14. Missouri (4-4): Missouri wouldn’t have been considered the worst team in the SEC a week ago. But after an ugly loss to Vanderbilt, they get spot #14 on my rankings. Their defense has been suffocating for the entire season, averaging holding their opponents to only 12.5 points against them. But their offense has been miserable, averaging only 14 points for the team. Not to mention they’re in the 100s as far as rankings for both passing and rushing yards go. If they don’t miraculously start creating some offense, this team is going to go down in flames even though they have one of the best defensive units in the country. Maybe having QB Maty Mauk back from his suspension can give their offense the spark it needs. Next game: vs. Mississippi State, Nov. 5, 9 p.m.

If you have any comments, make sure to tweet them at me. You’ll find me as @OGKristenB on Twitter!

Rapid Reaction: Alabama Saves its Dynasty; Destroys Georgia 38-10

Disgustingly ugly is the description I’d use to describe today’s game in Athens, Georgia. Georgia lost and it wasn’t close. The score at halftime was 21-3 and if Alabama’s defense doesn’t fall asleep on one play in the third quarter, there’s little doubt the Bulldogs would have scored a touchdown in the game. By the way, Nick Chubb ran 83-yards for Georgia’s single touchdown.

All this is fine, but really this is all about Georgia. Everyone at the beginning of the week was busy speculating how this could be the end of Alabama’s dynasty. That obviously didn’t work out too well. It also isn’t the end of the road for Georgia. The SEC East is absolute garbage.

Next week, Georgia will head to Knoxville, then back home to face Missouri before the bye week. After the bye week – the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida. Those three and the following game versus Kentucky are the only three that matter. Georgia is fine.

Missouri isn’t dead – I just assume I’ll never see Maty Mauk again and we’ll know a lot more about Florida after their game again Ole Miss tonight. Oh, and Will Grier started for Florida. It was nice knowing you too, Treon Harris. Thanks for stopping in.

The road for Alabama is significantly tougher, but after today’s game everything should be a bit clearer. Texas A&M on October 17th, LSU on November 7th in Tuscaloosa, at Mississippi State on November 14th and the Iron Bowl in Auburn on November 28th. You can say whatever you want about Auburn, but the Iron Bowl is no joke.

It never is.

As Bird and I talked about a few weeks ago on the SEC 411, Alabama has never been able to find the stud quarterback who could just walk in and let the world know he’s in charge. I think Jake Coker made the case for himself today. He’s one of the key’s to Alabama’s success. Derrick Henry and Calvin Henry will carry the offense, and if the Tide’s defense continues today’s domination, Alabama won’t have to listen to anyone talk smack about their failing dynasty.

This fan perfectly sums up everyone’s feelings about Mark Richt and his performances in big games. I don’t think there was anything he could have done about today because Alabama had his number from the beginning, but the tweet is appropriate.

I believe tomorrow we’ll find that Alabama makes it way to at least number 7 and Georgia will probably land somewhere in 18-22 range depending on what happens to everyone else. Sure, they could be completely booted from the Associated Press Top 25, but who knows.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Mauk Suspension Means Lock Debut

Earlier this evening the University of Missouri suspended starting quarterback Maty Mauk for this week’s game against South Carolina. The team was not specific about the circumstances that lead to the suspension other than to say the suspension was for a “violation of team policies”. Back up offensive lineman Malik Cuellar was also suspended but the major news is Mauk.

Under Mauk, the Mizzou offense has been bad this season. After a solid game against Southeast Missouri to start the year, the Tigers offense has gone downhill. They put up only nine points against Connecticut two weeks ago before losing to Kentucky in their SEC opener last week. Mauk has picked a bad time to play the worst football of his career with a major prospect in true freshman Drew Lock waiting in the wings.

Lock has looked good while getting his feet wet in limited playing time this season. Considering he is only a true freshman, Lock has moved the ball well and stayed poise in the pocket. While he hasn’t been perfect, the game hasn’t looked too big or fast for him. Combine Lock’s good performances with how bad Mauk has looked this year and the screams for Lock to take over the starting job have gotten louder every week.

We don’t know what rule was broken by Mauk, but it could have ended Mauk’s run as the starting quarterback at Mizzou. I have to think if Lock plays decent and wins it would be hard for head coach Gary Pinkel to put Mauk back in the starter spot. If Lock plays well and the offense looks efficient on the way to an easy win, than there is no chance Mauk gets his job back. The only way Mauk gets his job back is if Lock looks over matched and the Mizzou offense continues its recent struggles.

One thing is for certain, Mauk’s suspension has led to the most anticipated starting debut by a Tiger since Dorial Green-Beckham. It will be a hot topic on all the local talk shows tomorrow and is sure to be a headline on ESPN College Gameday Saturday morning. Mauk could be standing on the sidelines in a t-shirt on Saturday while his era at Mizzou comes to an end and the Drew Lock era begins.

Time For Sleeping Missouri Tigers To Wake Up

The Missouri Tigers head into Lexington, Kentucky to open their SEC schedule this weekend. When they arrive, they’ll find themselves in the usual spot of being overlooked in the SEC. The odds makers have Missouri as two and a half point underdogs against the Wildcats; a team Missouri hasn’t lost to since joining the SEC. I can tell you if you are in Vegas, sprint to the sports book and put your money on Missouri right now.

I know Missouri has not looked great to this point in the season. After a convincing win on opening day, the Tigers have struggled in back-to-back games against Arkansas State and Connecticut. Those are two games that fans hoped the Tigers would pad the stats and win with ease heading into SEC play, but that didn’t happen. Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk has looked bad. He’s continued his struggles with low completion percentage and bad interceptions. When Mauk has made good decisions his wide receivers have been showing their inexperience. Receivers have had far too many dropped passes and miscommunication with Mauk. The passing game has been gotten lots of work as the running game has been non-existent. Star running back Russell Hansbrough sprained his ankle on his first carry of the season and hasn’t played since. Without Hansbrough none of the Tigers other running backs have picked up the slack. Without a running game Mizzou’s usually balanced offense has become one- dimensional.

I can tell you that will change starting this week against Kentucky. Hansbrough is set to return against Kentucky this week bringing with him the balance the Tigers offense needs.  I expect him to be 100% healthy and show the vision and quickness that has made him one of best running backs in the country. With Hansbrough forcing the Wildcats to respect the running game, Mauk will see less pass rush and more one-on-one matchups which will lead to his best game of the season. I see this as the week the Tigers offense gets their swagger back.

Of course the Tigers defense has never been a question as they are once again proving to be one of the best in the country. Head coach Gary Pinkel has proven once again that they don’t rebuild on defense; they reload. The Tigers defense will be feeding on a Kentucky offense who struggled to score nine points against Florida last week. If the Tigers offense gives them a lead that allows defensive coordinator Barry Odom to let the defense run wild then this could get ugly fast.

The one facet of the team that does worry me is their special teams. They have a freshman punter who has played great in the non-conference but will see a lot more pressure come conference play. They do have a veteran place kicker in red-shirt senior Andrew Baggett. Any Tiger fan will tell you that is not exactly comforting as Baggett has a history of inconsistency, especially in big games. The biggest problem with the special teams this year is the loss of returner Marcus Murphy. Murphy was one of the top kick returners in the country last year, leading the nation in punt return yardage. Through the non-con schedule Mizzou has given a few different players chances to return kicks and so far nobody has excelled. Murphy was a weapon that many Mizzou fans took for granted the last couple years. Despite losing many stars to the NFL, Murphy may be the biggest loss if a replacement can’t be found soon.

With conference play getting in full swing it’s time for the real Missouri Tigers to stand up. I think they’ve been keeping things close to the vest and just doing what it took to get the wins. This may seem frustrating to fans and the media, but I think it’s a smart move by Pinkel. Mizzou doesn’t need to beat Connecticut by thirty points to reach their goals for this season. The non-conference schedule was the Tigers version of pre-season football. Now that it is conference time this is the regular season for the Tigers and time to bring their A game. The Tigers will take what they learned in the non-con and apply it to conference play to achieve their goal of winning the SEC East for the third year in a row. I expect Mizzou to get a fast start on the road to that goal this week when they go into Kentucky ready to make a statement. That statement is if you see a sleeping tiger, you should just let it sleep. The Missouri Tigers are wide awake now and they are ready to pounce on the SEC once again.

“Guys, that was embarrassing”: Week 2 in SEC Football

“Guys, that was embarrassing…”

Those words have been torn apart by Florida Gator fans and sports journalists for the past few days. I stand with Florida Coach Jim McElwain on this one; Florida may have won, but that was an “embarrassing” effort by the Gators. Unfortunately, this same embarrassment seemed to be prominent in about half of the games that SEC football teams played in last weekend. Some of the winners put forth an “embarrassing” effort, even though they did manage to secure a win. And obviously the big losers just put forth an outright shameful performance on Saturday.

GUYS, THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. This mortifying weekend for SEC football came right after a record-setting poll vote last week. The SEC entered the weekend with ten ranked teams. They exited the weekend with only seven ranked teams. It’s awful for me to have to relive this weekend of SEC football, but I’ll be glad to put all the underperforming teams on blast for your enjoyment. Maybe I’ll even get a kick out of it too.

The Losers

The worst loss suffered by an SEC football team this weekend belongs to Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas somehow managed to lose to Toledo…in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m still not 100% sure how this even happened. Even looking at the statistics for the game, it just seems incredible that Arkansas found a way to lose this game. The Toledo Rockets came into this game as 21-point underdogs and left this game victorious. Performances like this one from Arkansas are the reason people are saying the entire SEC is overrated this year. Arkansas was one of those ten ranked teams from the SEC, but now they’ve become the laughing stock of SEC critics everywhere. Thanks, Arkansas. I’m sure Toledo enjoyed their “borderline erotic” win against and overrated SEC football team.

This second loss is actually painful for me to write about. I watched as the Vols jumped out to an early 17-0 lead over the Oklahoma Sooners. I watched that lead turn into a 17-3 lead, but still wasn’t concerned. I saw the Oklahoma offense really start to warm up in the fourth quarter, and then I was nervous. Somehow the Vols managed to let a 17-point lead turn into a game that was tied at the end of regulation. In the first overtime period, both teams scored touchdowns. But in the second overtime period, Oklahoma’s offense moved the ball and Tennessee’s gave up the ball. What was once an impressive 17-point lead at home had become a gut-wrenching double overtime loss. What does this mean for Tennessee heading into the rest of the season? I have no clue. Maybe they just had an “off” half. Clearly they are capable of dominating a strong opponent for one half. But it takes two good halves of football to win the game, not just one. So can the Vols finally get it done this season? After Saturday, I really don’t know.

The Winners That Also Lost

Auburn…what was that? I really am at a loss for words about Auburn’s home game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. I’m starting to think Will Muschamp just tries to lose to FCS opponents. The offense struggled behind QB Jeremy Johnson and his two interceptions. Johnson was supposed to be a Heisman Trophy candidate but now he’s literally throwing away his chances of receiving that honor. On top of a weak offense, the Tigers gave up 438 yards on defense…to an FCS team. I just don’t get it. If the Tigers hadn’t pulled together for that last-minute score, then they would’ve never taken the game to overtime. But even winning in overtime is embarrassing against a team like Jacksonville State. I don’t know what’s going on, but please just get it together Auburn…please.

Missouri also had a scare against Sun Belt opponent Arkansas State, a team that had just been absolutely crushed by the USC Trojans during the opening weekend of college football. If it weren’t for Maty Mauk and Kentrell Brothers, the Missouri Tigers definitely would’ve suffered an embarrassing loss to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The Tigers actually went into the second half down 17-10 and somehow managed to fight back and win 27-20. How did they do it? In the second half Missouri’s defense, led by Kentrell Brothers, only allowed 37 yards and 3 points for the Red Wolves offense. Meanwhile, QB Maty Mauk put the team on his back and ended the game with 3 passing TDs as well as 75 rushing yards. Heading into conference play, the Tigers need more players than just Mauk and Brothers to actually show up to the games. SEC opponents aren’t quite as forgiving as Sun Belt opponents.

And now we finally get to look at the game that gave me this week’s article title. The Florida Gators played a humiliating game at home against the East Carolina Pirates. Just like last season, Florida’s kicker Austin Hardin proved to be anything but clutch, missing two field goal attempts that were both under 40 yards. QB Will Grier still looked like the Will Grier Florida fans were so excited about recruiting, but his rhythm was interrupted as he still shared playing time with Treon Harris. And even though the Gators held the Pirates to negative rushing yards (I know, shocking), they were unable to stop their passing game AT ALL. Not to mention, the Gators also racked up all sorts of penalties throughout the game. It went down to the wire, but Florida managed to get a crucial fumble recovery to seal their victory. Coach Jim McElwain was anything but impressed by this lackluster performance and had some choice words for his team throughout the night. At the end of the day, yes…Florida did win. But McElwain was definitely correct when he highlighted selfish mistakes and called their overall performance “embarrassing.”

“You guys should be embarrassed having to write about it!”

I am embarrassed…thanks for validating that Coach McElwain. I actually almost feel like this was a therapy session, during which I could air my grievances with SEC football teams. That’s how bad last week was for SEC football. Hopefully throughout the coming weeks, these teams can get their acts together and start playing like they belong in the best conference in college football. I’m just so tired of hearing all the doubters say the SEC isn’t the best conference anymore. But after last week even I am starting to think the doubters may be right. By the way, does anybody know if Georgia left their passing game in Athens last week? I couldn’t find it when they were in Nashville.

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Is There A QB Controversy at MU?

After week one of the college football season the Missouri Tigers are 1-0 and look a lot like the Tigers we’ve come to know. The Tigers beat Southeast Missouri State 34-3 at Faurot field and the game wasn’t as close as the score would suggest. The defense was as dominate as ever causing two turnovers and keeping the Redhawks from sniffing the end zone. The offense was potent even without their All American center Evan Boehm and running back Russell Hansbrough who left early in the first quarter with ankle injuries.

Normally winning a game against a team like SEMO wouldn’t mean a whole lot to me. It was a game Mizzou was favored by 41 ½ points and the game was never in doubt. Early games like this are really college football’s version of pre-season. But something made this game different for me and Mizzou fans everywhere. What made me excited watching this game was the performance of true freshman quarterback Drew Lock.

Lock has been turning heads at Mizzou since he first stepped foot on campus late in the spring. He dominated the scrimmages through the summer that it almost forced Head Coach Gary Pinkel to name him the backup QB heading into the year. Despite his production most fans, myself included, expected Mizzou to red-shirt the freshman Lock since they still have junior starter Maty Mauk. But Pinkel decided to burn the red-shirt and put Lock right into action in the first game.

The first action for the six foot four, 210 pound freshman came early in the second quarter. Lock didn’t disappoint, going 4-5 for fifty-one yards leading Mizzou to a field goal. Lock didn’t play again until halfway through the fourth quarter when he was put in for mop up duties. He did more than just mop up as he rolled out to his left from his own twenty-two yard line. As he got to the left hash he stopped, set his feet and threw across the field to a wide open Tyler Hunt at the SEMO forty-two. When I say wide open, I mean there wasn’t a player within twenty yards of him in any direction. Hunt then easily ran the remaining forty-two yards for a seventy-eight yard touchdown throw and catch. The first touchdown of what myself, and other fans like me, think will be many more. Lock finished the game going 6-10 for 138 yards and one touchdown. Those are great numbers for a first start, but to have a QB controversy you must have two QBs.

That other QB Mauk played well, going 12-22 for 181 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Mauk was going deep all game long with at least ten of his twenty-two pass attempts traveling twenty yards or more in the air. As usual in a Mauk game he made some plays and throws that are Sportscenter Top Ten worthy while also make plays that were Not Top Ten worthy.

Mauk has always been a Brett Favre gun slinger type quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm and there has never been a pass he didn’t think he could make, no matter how tight the window. Mauk has a completion percentage in the low fifty’s with a touchdown to interception ratio just over two to one. These are stats a lot of fans and so called “experts” see as bad and a reason to panic about Mauk. Those stats are important, but what I care about is the only stat that really matters, he’s 15-3 as a starter at Mizzou. He’s helped lead Mizzou to back to back SEC East titles and back to back bowl wins. He’s clutch and has the ice in his veins that is needed for the close games in the SEC.

This leaves many Mizzou fans and the media questioning if there is a real QB controversy in Columbia, MO. The answer to that question is a simple no, not for 2015. Maty Mauk will start every game for Mizzou in 2015 unless he gets injured. Lock will continue to get reps in games and will play plenty in blow outs, but that is all he’ll get. Anybody who has watched Mizzou for the last decade understands that this is what Pinkel does. He started it with Chase Daniel getting snaps during Brad Smith’s senior season, I’m sure no one forgets the game against Iowa State that year. He has done this with every young QB he’s brought through the system since, including Mauk getting snaps from James Franklin two seasons ago.

The only difference between those previous duos and the current 2015 situation is that Mauk still has one year of eligibility left. So what does that mean for the 2016 QB situation, I have no idea and in 2015 I’m not worried about it. What I’m worried about in 2015 is going back to the SEC title game for the third year in a row. I believe Mauk is Mizzou’s best chance to make that happen and I believe he will make that happen. I believe Lock is going to be a great QB at Mizzou and possibly play in the NFL one day. But for 2015, I am hitching my wagon to Mauk and ready to watch him light up the scoreboards in the SEC. Of course there is nothing wrong with having probably the best backup QB in the country, outside of Ohio State, as an insurance policy.

Missouri Tigers 2015 Preview

The Missouri Tigers will kick-off the 2015 season on September 5 when they take the field against Southeast Missouri. They begin the year ranked 24th in the Associated Press pole and predicted by most “experts” to finish third or fourth in the SEC Eastern Division. To the Tigers and their fans those numbers seem low for a team that has been in the SEC title game two years in a row. This means the Tigers will begin the 2015 with a chip on their shoulder, the same one they’ve carried since they joined the SEC in 2012.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone to say that the 2015 Tigers will go as far as the right arm of quarterback Maty Mauk can take them. This will be the second season as full-time starter for the red-shirt junior from Kenton, Ohio. Mauk’s career has been a successful one going 14-4 as a starter.  While his record is great, his statistics are not as eye popping. If you looked up “gunslinger” in the dictionary you would see a picture of Mauk. He has a strong arm and he is not afraid to use it to try to slip passes into the smallest of holes. His career completion percentage is only 52.3%, and his touchdown to interception ratio is only 2.4. While these are horrible numbers, the Tigers are expecting improvement in 2015.

One thing Mauk will have working against him is a young receiving core. The Tigers return just fourteen percent of their receiving yards from 2014. Senior Wesley Leftwich and sophmores Nate Brown and J’Mon Moore appear to have the edge for the starting spots. But it will be on hands on deck in the receiving core so the Tigers expect contributions from a deep group of red-shirt and true freshman like DeSean Blair, Raymond Wingo and Johnathon Johnson.  Missouri hopes one of these youngsters can become the next Derrick Alexander or Jeremy Maclin.

The running game should be solid once again for Missouri as they return most of the offensive line including one of the best centers in college Evan Boehm. Also returning is leading rusher from 2014 Russell Hansbrough. Hansbrough is one of the best running backs that nobody outside of Missouri knows.  He has proven to be a true home run hitter who can take a handoff to the end-zone from anywhere. While the Tigers run a spread offense, the offense goes through the running game to setup the passing game. If the running game can be as consistent as it has the last few seasons and Mauk can get on the same pages with his young wide receivers than the Tigers could have a high powered offense able to score with anyone.

The defense of Missouri has been the heart and soul of the team since they came to the SEC. They play fast, aggressive and have had one of the best pass rushes in college for the last three seasons. Their best defensive player will be out for the year after Harold Brantley was injured in a car accident in June. They lost their top two pass rushers to the NFL draft. This year’s defense will be more of a full group effort with no house hold names. That sounds bad when you just say it, but then when you think about it, it isn’t that bad. They still have a great scheme that has re-loaded year after year no matter who they lose. Many players have gone from unknown to first round NFL draft picks. Without big names to depend on I think the defense will pull together and be even more focused on doing their jobs because they don’ have Shane Ray there to clean up their mess.

The Tigers have a favorable schedule with their hardest game being at Georgia. They get Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee at Faurot Field. I believe they will be favored in ten of the twelve games and if they just play the way they can play than I could see the Tigers get to double digit wins for the third season in a row. I believe they will be a front runner for their third straight SEC title and that could come down to the last game of the year at Arkansas. I believe the Tigers themselves are as confident as I am in their season and I believe they thrive on the fact nobody else sees it. So if ESPN and the rest of the so called “experts” want to keep doubting Missouri that is just fine with me. Nothing makes a hungry Tiger happier than prey who thinks the coast is clear.