Mizzou update: The quarterback shuffle, sharp turnaround for Tiger volleyball, and the luxury of having two goalkeepers

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

By Darren Hellwege

These are the times when being in sports media isn’t so much fun. Reporting — or, not — on the whole Maty Mauk/Drew Lock saga is a lot less fun then comparing Florida’s defense to South Carolina’s or theorizing why the Mizzou soccer team is scoring more or fewer goals. But, it’s obviously part of the job to talk about the less fun things as well.

To answer the question I’ve been asked about every 10 minutes the last two weeks—no, I do not know why Maty’s not playing. And I respect coach Gary Pinkel’s protection of his players. I don’t honestly expect him to tell us the non-legal transgressions of his players or how many gassers he made them run for ditching class, being late for a team meeting, or whatever. And as recent past experience has shown, in this day and age if there really was something bigger than that involved here, eventually we’ll find out.

So let’s stick to the football side of things with this thought, unpopular though it will probably be: No, Mauk’s suspension Read more of this post

Tiger fall teams show encouraging signs in early action

Mizzou football, volleyball and soccer all start with winning records

Missouri's Aarion Penton, left, celebrates with teammate Anthony Sherrils after Penton scored a touchdown during the third quarter of Saturday's game against Southeast Missouri State. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Missouri’s Aarion Penton, left, celebrates with teammate Anthony Sherrils after Penton scored a touchdown during the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Southeast Missouri State. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

A few notes as Mizzou sports begin in earnest for the 2015-2016 season.

Missouri football started with a solid if not spectacular win over Southeast Missouri State. Yes, Missouri should be expected to dominate SEMO, but I was actually pretty impressed with what I saw. The offense sputtered at times, but some of the reason for that lies in injuries.  Ask me to name the most irreplaceable players on this team, and I’d have named two: Evan Boehm and Russell Hansbrough, both of whom missed significant time against the Redhawks. Missouri’s offense depends on these two senior captains and hopefully their ankle injuries won’t prove to be serious.

The Tigers receivers had a couple of drops but also made some fine catches. Rather than having one great WR, the team can put three or four capable guys on the field at one time and this part of the game will continue to improve. The more this team plays the better communication and telepathy between quarterback Maty Mauk and his young batch of receivers will trend upward.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock looks for a receiver during the second quarter. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock looks for a receiver during the second quarter. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

I fully expect to start hearing the drumbeat for more of freshman QB Drew Lock, but that’s way premature. Mauk is 15-4 as a starter and has been through the gauntlet of SEC play. Until we’ve seen how Lock responds to receiving a Malachi Crunch between two sides of beef from the Georgia defensive line, or from hearing boos when he throws a pick in the fourth quarter of a tight game, we still don’t know how he’ll handle the responsibility. But we’ve seen enough in scrimmages and the SEMO game to be very excited about the future and to understand how it is Lock jumped more experienced QBs to earn the No. 2 spot in Gary Pinkel’s depth chart. The day will come, gentle reader, when Lock is this team’s quarterback. Patience.

While the offense will be under construction for a bit, the defense can be described as very good, on the pathway to stellar. The key here is the secondary. You’ll not find a better set of corners in the SEC than Mizzou has with Kenya Dennis and Aarion Penton. Experienced safeties who can cover receivers and come up and deliver a hard tackle in the run game, and plenty of quality depth at all four spots make this the strongest area of the team. That secondary and talented group of linebackers means less pressure on the defensive line. That front has to recover from losing Marcus Golden and Shane Ray to the NFL, Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent to graduation, Marcus Loud to discipline problems and Harold Brantley to an ugly car crash on Father’s Day. What’s left is testament to how well this position has been recruited, as the guys who step in like Charles Harris and Rickey Hatley continue to play very well. But one of this year’s biggest stories will be to watch Terry Beckner, Jr., the biggest recruiting “get” in Boone County since Dorial Green-Beckham came to town. Beckner’s already showing flashes of brilliance, and I suspect it’s just a matter of time before he’s part of the starting team.

Special teams were also a real strength for this team—mostly. Freshman punter Corey Fatony is the real deal, with excellent punting and (with one exception) kickoffs. Andrew Baggett was steady, making all six attempts, and the coverage units did a fine job of preventing big plays. The concern? The return game. You’ll never replace Marcus Murphy, but there were some awkward moments catching the ball (or not) for Penton, and Anthony Sherrils ran a kickoff out of the end zone which he probably should have just downed for a touchback. But these are minor and correctable concerns.

There were some very bright spots—the biggest of course being the excellent play of senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers. The most underrated defender in the SEC carried a bit of a chip on his shoulder into this season because of a lack of recognition and Tiger opponents will pay the price. After 16 tackles and a blocked punt, it’ll be a sham if he’s not named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Week. But even if he doesn’t get the personal recognition he’s earned, one thing’s clear. Brothers will continue to contribute to Tiger victories. My guess is that’s a trade-off Brothers will accept.

There were several other bright spots, but perhaps the brightest is just the overall preparedness of this team. I watched a lot of football this weekend and saw some teams that didn’t look ready to play. There was some real sloppiness in South Carolina’s offensive scheme, Vanderbilt looked very shaky, and Texas A&M had to play some quarterback bingo before finally getting their offense going against Arizona State.

Mizzou, on the other hand, looked like they knew this game was for real. There was a time-out called when personnel problems blew up a punt early. There was a truly dumb unsportsmanlike conduct call after Nate Brown’s touchdown. Mauk threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage off his back foot that was, of course, intercepted. But there were a lot fewer of these type of mistakes than from most of the teams I watched in Week One.  Looking at the stat sheet, the number that impressed me the most was 6-54. Six penalties for 54 yards.  Most of those came from two plays, the unsportsmanlike conduct call and a 15-yard facemask flagged against Sherrils. There was only one false start all day and only one holding call. In spite of losing Boehm for the second half, the Tigers’ O-Line showed a lot of discipline and only gave up three sacks to a SEMO team that lead their conference in sacks last year.

In spite of there being a lot of young players, this is a sign that this team has come into the 2015 season prepared to play. Yes, the schedule gets tougher from here. Of course, the running game must improve. And the guys who have to catch punts need to, you know, actually catch them.

But overall, just a week into this season I see a lot of reasons for optimism among Missouri football fans. I’ll be in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Saturday, we’ll see if there’s continued progress for this Tiger team.

 MU Volleyball

Elsewhere in Missouri sports, I’ve used the same line over and over regarding this 2015 MU volleyball team, “They’ll improve quickly as the year goes along.” They have three transfers starting and are giving substantial playing time to new freshman Alyssa Munlyn. One could reasonably expect some early bumps while the newbies learn Wayne Kreklow’s system and adjust to new teammates, and in Munlyn’s case, to the college game as a whole.

Instead, the team has started with six straight wins. All three transfers are looking sharp but special notice goes to Kira Larson. A North Dakota kid who played for the tradition-laden Nebraska program (as did new defensive specialist Alexa Ethridge) Larson’s been a quick study to pick up the “Mizzou Way” and promises to be a big part of this team.

Returning All-American Carly Kan continues to be outstanding, and in the last few matches there’s been a big jump in the play of senior Regan Peltier and junior Julia Towler. Kan, Larson and Towler all made the All-Tournament team last weekend at the South Florida Invitational. With freshman middle blocker Hao Jin getting more playing time, and Sydney Deeken (hopefully) returning from injury soon, there’s a lot of depth on the front line, and Ethridge is settling into the libero position nicely.

We won’t see the Tigers play in Hearnes until SEC play starts on September 30, but keep an eye on this team, which could be on the way to a fine run in the conference.

MU Soccer

Meanwhile, Bryan Blitz’s soccer club has been through a bit of a scoring drought. Since beating TCU 2-0 in their opener, the team scored more than one goal just once in five matches and has since played to consecutive 0-0 ties. Mizzou may well have the best back line in the SEC, and freshman Kelsey Dossey is doing a terrific job at goalkeeper. Missouri’s getting chances to score off the traditional Blitz attacking style, but the finishes aren’t coming.

It doesn’t make for a pretty game to watch, but packing the defense and hoping for a 1-0 win is smart tactics against this Missouri team. Until they can break out and score some goals early, forcing opponents to open up and attack more, we may see a lot of very low scoring soccer from the Tigers. Getting Allie Hess back from injury would be a major addition for Mizzou, meanwhile freshmen Amanda Shaw and Bethany Coons are getting significant minutes up front. The Tigers will be home for the first SEC event of the school year, taking on Auburn at Walton Stadium. Auburn and Missouri were both picked around the middle of the pack in preseason SEC polling, so this will be a biggie for both sets of Tigers. If Mizzou can get a goal or two early and force opponents’ tactics to change, this team’s capable of making a real run in conference play.

Because nobody’s going to score a lot against this Tiger team.


Shop talk —Thanks to Karen Mitchell and Nathan Lawrence, the KBIA Sports website should be back to fully operational soon. Believe me, when that happens, you’ll hear about it. You can continue to follow @kbiahellwege on Twitter for my thoughts, and again, I will be in Jonesboro on Saturday for Mizzou football. I’ll also be in Memphis Friday evening for ribs. Watch this space for my reporting on both these vital subjects.



Missouri 2015 football schedule

Missouri’s home games are played at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

All times are Central time.

Sat, Sept. 5 vs Southeast Missouri State W 34-3
Sat, Sept. 12 @ Arkansas State 6 p.m.
Sat, Sept. 19 vs Connecticut 11 a.m.
Sat, Sept. 26 @ Kentucky TBD
Sat, Oct. 3 vs. South Carolina TBD
Sat, Oct. 10 vs. Florida TBD
Sat, Oct. 17 @ Georgia TBD
Sat, Oct. 24 @ Vanderbilt TBD
Thu, Nov. 5 vs Mississippi State 8 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 14 vs BYU TBD
Sat, Nov. 21 vs Tennessee TBD
Fri, Nov. 27 @ Arkansas 1:30 p.m.

Thinking Out Loud Saturday Sports: Earleywine talks about the 2015 softball season

University of Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine on April 16, 2012.

University of Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine is looking forward to a strong year from the pitching staff.

Missouri fielded a very young softball team last year and most of the team returns this year. KBIA Sports Director Darren Hellwege has a long conversation with Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine about what he thinks could be a really good 2015 season for the team, highlighted by depth at the pitching position.

Darren Hellwege logoThe team’s annual Black and Gold game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7 in Columbia. The team then hits the road for several weeks before its home opener on Wednesday, March 11, a double-header against Southeast Missouri State University.

The year that was: Awards for alumni, basketball teams off to slow start in 2014

Part two of two parts
Part one

By Darren Hellwege

Yesterday we took a look at Missouri sports highlights from January to June. Today we finish Darren Hellwege’s look at the year.


Outside hitter Carly Kan jumps to kill a ball in the fourth set. Kan had a team-high of 12 kills with a .195 hitting percentage in the match.

Outside hitter Carly Kan jumps for a kill during a 2014 match. Kan earned a spot on the All American team.


Bruce Walker announces his retirement as offensive line coach. It was an inopportune time to be changing coaches, but Mizzou caught a break as Walker was replaced by Tiger alum and Illinois assistant coach A.J. Ricker.

  • Michael Sam receives the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, giving an emotional acceptance speech at the ESPY awards presentation.
  • Tiger alum Max Scherzer of Detroit gets the win for the American League in the MLB All-Star Game. Scherzer is now a much-coveted free agent.
  • Veteran coach Marc Burns takes over Mizzou Cross Country.
  • Women tennis player Alex Clark is named to the ITA All-Academic team.



Nationally recognized pitching guru Doug Gillis joins the softball coaching staff. Gillis, one of the great softball players in US history, has been associated unofficially with Mizzou for some time and is noted for his work with Chelsea Thomas. Read more of this post

The year that was: First half dominated by football success, Michael Sam, DGB troubles

2014’s top stories led by Sam, DGB dismissal, another football title

Part one of two parts

darren hellwege logo
Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

By Darren Hellwege

It’s been an extraordinary year in Missouri sports, both on and off the field of play. As 2015 begins, let’s look back at some of the biggest stories of each month of the last year.


The year began with a barn-burner of a football game with Mizzou beating Oklahoma State 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys led in the final five minutes, but a Henry Josey touchdown put Mizzou ahead and a touchdown on a fumble return by Shane Ray cemented the victory. It was something of a torch-passing, as the final game of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam saw a big play by the Tigers’ next great lineman.

Also in January:

  • The men’s basketball team fell from top 25 after an emotional home loss to Georgia.
  • Pat Ivey named Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by a national organization.
  • MU Athletics Hall of Fame inducted Ashley Wysong (cross country) John Putnam (swimming) Aaron Crow (baseball) and Dan Pippen (basketball).
  • Wrestling bested Oklahoma in battle of top-10 teams
  • Women’s basketball upset Vanderbilt with freshman Kayla McDowell made key contributions off the bench
  • In gymnastics 11 personal bests were set or tied, including 9.90 on beam from Rachel Updike, as Mizzou fell just short against Arkansas

Read more of this post

D’Angelo Allen ready to play his role for Mizzou

By Tim Leible, KBIA Sports

Missouri’s D’Angelo Allen (5) tries to knkock the ball away from Xavier’s Brandon Randolph on Dec. 13, 2014 in Columbia. Allen scored 8 points in 11 minutes of play.

Missouri’s D’Angelo Allen (5) tries to knock the ball away from Xavier’s Brandon Randolph on Dec. 13, 2014 in Columbia. Allen scored 8 points in 11 minutes of play.

Effort is something that every coach asks for: whether you’re the best player on the roster or the worst, you can always put in the effort to improve. KBIA Sports’ Tim Leible tells how Missouri’s D’Angelo Allen has translated effort into minutes on the court and points on the stat sheet.

Length: 2:39

Xavier Spoils Gant’s Mizzou Debut

Wes Clark (15) shoots a three in the corner over Xavier’s Myles Davis (15) on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Clark didn’t have much impact offensively, as he scored three points off the bench for the Tigers.

Wes Clark (15) shoots a three in the corner over Xavier’s Myles Davis (15) on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Clark didn’t have much impact offensively, as he scored three points off the bench for the Tigers.

Story by Greg Dailey, KBIA Sports
Photos by Tim Leible, KBIA Sports

COLUMBIA — A season of learning through losing continued for the Missouri Tigers in a 74-58 loss Saturday afternoon to Xavier.

Guard Dee Davis led the Musketeers with 17 points. Johnathan Williams III also put in 17 to pace the Tigers. The highlight of the first half for the Tigers was freshman Jakeenan Gant making his freshman debut. Gant had been held out by the university due to questions about his eligibility.

“We’re thrilled to have him back on our basketball team,” head coach Kim Anderson said.

Gant finished the game with 13 points, shooting four of eight from the floor. He also had two blocks and a steal in his 15 minutes of action. Missouri coach Kim Anderson said Gant provided a much-needed boost to a struggling first-half offense.

“Jakeenan coming in and making a shot, I thought that really picked up our guys,” he said.

“He’s relentless,” guard Keith Shamburger said.

Missouri played in front of 7,854, its largest home crowd of the season. The fans at Mizzou Arena crowd gave Read more of this post

Big first half gives Missouri a 76-71 win over Elon

Missouri’s Keith Shamburger (14, hidden) draws a key foul on Elon’s Tony Sabato (15, hidden) as Missouri’s Montaque Gill-Caesar (13) and Johnathan Williams III (3 in white, hidden) and Elon’s Kevin Blake (11), Ryan Winters (32) and Tanner Samson (3 in red, hidden) look on.

Missouri’s Keith Shamburger (14, hidden) draws a key foul on Elon’s Tony Sabato (15, hidden) as Missouri’s Montaque Gill-Caesar (13) and Johnathan Williams III (3 in white, hidden) and Elon’s Kevin Blake (11), Ryan Winters (32) and Tanner Samson (3 in red, hidden) look on.

Story By Tim Leible, KBIA Sports
Photos by Greg Dailey, KBIA Sports

The Missouri Tigers had their best first half of the season en route to a 76-71 win over Elon. Missouri held a 46-27 lead at the half and shot lights out. As a team, they made 59.1 percent of their first-half shot attempts and went 6-9 from behind the arc.

On the other hand, Elon had a horrific first half. Despite being a team known for their offense, Elon shot only 24.2 percent from the field in the first half. The Missouri

defense forced poor shot attempts all half, leading Elon to only make eight baskets.

The second half, however, was almost detrimental to the Tigers.

Read more of this post

Pinkel named SEC football coach of the year

Missouri Tigers pull in multiple team, individual awards

Gary Pinkel

Gary Pinkel

Gary Pinkel has been named coach of the year for the Southeastern Conference, topping off a week filled with awards for the team.

Additional individual awards were given to Shane Ray for defensive player of the year and Marcus Murphy for special team player of the year.

The Tigers finished the year with a 7-1 conference record and 10-3 overall record. Missouri finished as the Eastern Division champions but lost to Alabama on Saturday for the conference championship, 42-13.

Pinkel was named coach of the year in 2007 when Missouri was part of the Big 12 Conference. According to a news release from the university, three other coaches have received coach of the year honors: Al Onofrio in 1972, Warren Powers in 1983 and Larry Smith in1997.

Both Ray and Murphy made first team All SEC, announced earlier this week.

This year Ray, a junior from Kansas City, Missouri, set a school record for quarterback sacks with 14 as part of his award-winning season. He also racked up 21 tackles for loss and 61 tackles for the year, putting him third in the nation.

Murphy, a senior from DeSoto, Texas, was honored as an all-purpose back and for his special teams play. According to the news release Murphy has scored a touchdown in all four all-purpose categories: rushing (4) kick-off returns (2) and one each in punt returns and receiving.

Missouri will face Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Gary Pinkel  — Coach of the Year
Marcus Murphy — Special Teams Player of the Year
Shane Ray — Defensive Player of the Year
First Team All-SEC Second Team All-SEC
TE –   Evan Engram, Ole Miss TE – Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL –   Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M OL – Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
         La’el Collins, LSU        Ben Beckwith, Mississippi State
           Arie Kouandjio, Alabama        Vadal Alexander, LSU
           A.J. Cann, South Carolina        Mitch Morse, Missouri
C –     Reese Dismukes, Auburn C – Max Garcia, Florida
WR –   Amari Cooper, Alabama WR – Bud Sasser, Missouri
           Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina          Sammie Coates, Auburn
QB –   Dak Prescott, Mississippi State QB – Blake Sims, Alabama
RB –   Nick Chubb, Georgia RB – Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
           Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn          T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
AP – Marcus Murphy, Missouri      AP – Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
DL – Shane Ray, Missouri DL – Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
           Preston Smith, Mississippi State          Trey Flowers, Arkansas
           Dante Fowler, Florida          Derek Barnett, Tennessee
           Bud Dupree, Kentucky          Markus Golden, Missouri
LB –   Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State LB – Amarlo Herrera, Georgia
         Martrell Spaight, Arkansas        Ramik Wilson, Georgia
         Trey DePriest, Alabama        Antonio Morrison, Florida
DB – Landon Collins, Alabama          Braylon Webb, Missouri
           Senquez Golson, Ole Miss Jonathan Jones, Auburn
           Vernon Hargreaves, Florida          Damian Swann, Georgia
           Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss          Jonathon Mincy, Auburn
PK – Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky PK – Elliott Fry, South Carolina
P –   JK Scott, Alabama P – Jamie Keehn, LSU
RS – Marcus Murphy, Missouri RS – Quan Bray, Auburn