Following last week’s loss to South Carolina, how many of you thought, “Here we go again!”? Be honest.
Yet again, the Missouri Tigers have done something that previous teams have generally not been able to do—make a statement following an ugly loss.
Let’s face it, going into Saturday’s game ay Faurot Field, the Tigers were favored to knock off Tennessee. But being favored and winning has not always gone hand-in-hand for the Tigers. Saturday’s game had all the makings of another ugly loss—playing against a lesser opponent following a game that you let slip away would have folded previous Tiger teams.
Following the Tigers’ 31-3 win over visiting Tennessee, Head Coach Gary Pinkel said the Tigers quickly moved on from last week’s loss, “There is so much out there and I think they understood that. You can’t do anything about the week before except learn a lesson. We applied it today and we will apply it next week.”
Already leading midway through the 3rd quarter, the Tigers went through the Tennessee defense with surgical precision. Mizzou went 65 yards on just 4 plays. The 1:15 drive was capped off by a 26-yard run by Russell Hansbrough who went untouched on the play. The drive was highlighted by Maty Mauk’s 19-yard run.
Did he really out rush Tennessee?
Through three quarters, Mauk gained more yards on the ground than Tennessee did as a team, 114-73. In addition, he spread the ball around with touchdown passes to Marcus Lucas, L’Damian Washington, and Dorial Green-Beckham. Remember how frustrating it was last year when it seemed as if Green-Beckham was never thrown to?
Is Matty Mauk really just a freshman?
Three starts don’t make a career, but to watch his raw, competitive nature is refreshing. To watch his poise, confidence, and leadership is a work of art. And he will only get better! By the end, Mauk outrushed Tennessee 114-93.
Of Mauk’s play, Pinkel said, “I think he did a lot of good things. I think we are getting better overall as a football team. We have to continue to take that approach.”
Despite the win, Mauk said the offense could have started better, “Very grateful for my performance, but we came out too slow. Whether it was my fault but once we got things going and got our tempo up you could tell. We were just running our plays, hats off to Henry, Murphy and Russell.”
It’s always easy to look at the offense, but the defense was dominating last night. The only points they allowed came on a 51-yard field goal. That broke a streak of 24-games in which Tennessee had scored a touchdown. In addition, Mizzou’s defense held the Volunteers offense to only 334 yards of total offense. Another stat of interest is the fact that Mizzou has 39 consecutive games in which they have forced a turnover. That is the longest streak in the nation. Finally, The Vols ran just 15 plays in Mizzou territory for nine yards.
Linebacker Andrew Wilson leads the team in tackles. The senior stated, “Our defense did a great job tonight. Coach had a great game plan and everyone executed and it was awesome to see.” Furthermore, Wilson said, “The whole team just had a finish mentality and that’s what we came out with in the second half. We finished it how we should have.”
Last night was the 4th time this season in which Mizzou has not given up any 1st quarter points. Over the last 3 games, the Tigers have given up only six points in first half.
The win, combined with Florida State’s throttling of Miami, should move Mizzou up in the rankings. It also put Gary Pinkel in 2nd place all time in wins at Mizzou. He is only 3 games behind Don Faurot as the all-time leader. He looks to inch closer next week when the Tigers go to Kentucky.
Meanwhile back in the Big 12
Here’s a fun fact to share with your friends: The Kansas Jayhawks have not won a conference game since November 6th, 2010, nearly 3 years to the day. They lost yesterday to Texas 35-13, their 26 straight conference loss.