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

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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

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I Told You So: Fearsome senior leads Mizzou to season-opening win

Dorian Henderson, left, looks away after pinning his opponent, Purdue's Drake Stein, in the 174 pound match. Mizzou won the meet over Purdue 21-15. (Photos by Karen Mitchell)

As you’ve seen in my weekly football prediction columns, I’m not always the best prognosticator in sports history. That a team currently sitting at 8-2 was my pick to finish ninth in the Big 12 is a good sign that I’m not the next incarnation of Jimmy the Greek.

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Darren Hellwege, sports commentator

But sometimes, I get one right. The moment that defined Sunday’s opening day victory for the Missouri wrestling team almost happened so fast you might have missed it, had someone not said, “Watch this.” That was me.

The reporter working for me covering MU wrestling this year for KBIA radio is a freshman. He knows wrestling very well, but being new to Mizzou I tried to tell him a little about a couple of the guys on the team. When we got to 174 pounds, I nudged him.

“Watch this one, Dorian Henderson. This guy’s a fearsome mofo.” Since my mom might be reading, let it be known that I really said that, “mofo”, and not what it stands for. I never swear, at least not if my mom might be reading.

It’s a pity Henderson’s opponent, Purdue’s Drake Stein, didn’t overhear me. Then again, it might not have helped. Eighteen seconds later, Stein was flat on his back, getting a look at the light in the ceiling of the Hearnes Center as Henderson pinned him lightning quick, a key victory in the Tigers’ 21-15 win over the Boilermakers.

Members of the Missouri wrestling team circle the mat as the team is introduced before the dual match with the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday.

“He should be doing that every night,” Tiger coach Brian Smith said afterwards, noting in particular that the “confidence” of the senior would be a big boost for the team.

“I’m pleased with a lot of things, we were wrestling with a lot of energy,” Smith added.

And confidence wasn’t something we saw lacking from Henderson Sunday. The guy who’s appeared at the NCAA championships for three seasons has no intention of merely showing up this year, watching from the sidelines when that gold medal is awarded at the NCAA championships in St. Louis next year. “I’m not content with that. I want to be an All-American. That’s what I came here for. I gotta get on that podium,” Henderson said.

Purdue's Jake Fleckenstein, left, and Missouri's Brandon Wiest maneuver for a good position during their 141 pound match. Wiest won by decision, 3-2.

This whole team may take on that  Henderson swagger. They have some things to prove this year. It was clear in talking with the Smith and some Tiger wrestlers that there are some things they’re tired of talking about.

The move to the SEC. What happens when Mizzou goes to the SEC? Do they know nobody wrestles in the SEC? SEC, SEC, over and over and over, the SEC.

And then there’s Dom Bradley. The Tiger heavyweight is taking the 2011-2012 season off with a goal of wrestling in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. With a young team, with Dom Bradley on the sidelines, with a great recruiting class coming in, this Tiger team has possibly heard “wow, you’re going to be great…next year” maybe a few too many times.

The official signals two points for a reversal for Missouri's Brent Haynes as he controls Purdue's A.J. Kissel. Kissel won by decision, 7-2 but Missouri won the match 21-15.

While there’s a ton of respect and love for Dom Bradley among his Tiger teammates, this bunch has no intention of waiting until next year. Kyle Bradley (no relation to Dom) proclaimed, “We’ve got a great team now, we’re going to be top three, with or without Dom.”

And one sign of the high goals this team has for itself came from Kyle Bradley’s less than glowing report on the Tigers’ win. Even though they beat Purdue for the first time after losing 18-15 and 19-15 in the previous two seasons, just winning isn’t good enough.

“There weren’t the bonus points we’d like,” Kyle Bradley said. “Our plan is to dominate. No more questions about where we’re going to move, we’re just gonna go win. And we need back points and pins.”

If their first dual meet of the year is any indication, when it comes to the pins, there’s at least one guy on this year’s team ready to go out and get those pins. Henderson’s a senior, so he doesn’t care to wait until next year. Get ready, Big 12. The rest of the wrestling nation should look out, too. Henderson’s on his way.

And he’s a fearsome mofo.

Match Summary MIZZ PURD
125 Camden Eppert (Purdue) won by forfeit . 0 6.00
133 Nathan McCormick (Missouri) won in overtime over Matt Fields (Purdue) 14-12. 3.00 0
141 Brandon Wiest (Missouri) won by decision over Jake Fleckenstein (Purdue) 3-2. 3.00 0
149 Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue) won by decision over Kyle Bradley (Missouri) 5-3. 0 3.00
157 Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) won by decision over Tommy Churchard (Purdue) 11-4. 3.00 0
165 Zach Toal (Missouri) won by decision over Kyle Mosier (Purdue) 7-4. 3.00 0
174 Dorian Henderson (Missouri) won by pin over Drake Stein (Purdue) 0:18. 6.00 0
184 Mike Larson (Missouri) won by decision over Braden Atwood (Purdue) 6-1. 3.00 0
197 A.J. Kissel (Purdue) won by decision over Brent Haynes (Missouri) 7-2. 0 3.00
285 Roger Vukobratovich (Purdue) won by decision over Devon Mellon (Missouri) 6-4. 0 3.00
Dual Meet Score 21.0 15.0

Source: TrackWrestling.com

Darren’s Take: Week 11 predictions

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Darren Hellwege, sports commentator

After this week, it’s a little hard to be completely focused on the games. Regardless of what you feel about the decision to fire coach Joe Paterno at Penn State, college athletics is worse off without him. His dedication to his players extended far beyond winning football games. He ran his program the right way, without recruiting shenanigans, without cheating on biology tests. There are still good men and women in the coaching profession, but Paterno was one of the best and it was terribly sad to see his more than 50 years at Penn State end this way. I’ll not use words like “tragedy” or “victim,” at least not in reference to JoePa or his players. There are young men whose lives were destroyed by a sexual predator, and that’s the tragedy, they’re the victims. But the well-being of the Penn State athletes seems to me to have taken a backseat to public relations and what looks good. I’m always going to be disappointed when that happens.

So, on to the games.

Texas at Missouri
When I said there are still good women and men in the coaching profession, I had Mack Brown in mind. I love doing what I do because I can meet people like this, and tell you about them. But there’s also a game to tell you about, and for Tiger fans it’s of major importance. Missouri needs this game, badly. And I like their chances.

My pick: MU has been very strong at home this season, their only loss coming to the team I’d rank No. 1 in the nation, Oklahoma State. It will be a whale of a match-up, the Tigers’ impressive running game against the Longhorns’ impressive rush defense. It may come down to two things: James Franklin’s ability to throw downfield and find open receivers, and Mizzou overcoming this baffling, weird trouble of the third quarter in games this season. It’ll be an exciting, close game and one that would show us a lot of character on the part of Franklin and the Tigers. I think we’ll see just that, and see a Missouri win.

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Of all the topics I come back to over and over again in talking with coaches, one is near the top of the list—what is it that causes a team to win the close one. While some would see the Cowboys near-loss to Kansas State in Stillwater as a sign that they’re vulnerable (of course they are, everyone is) I see something else. The last minute of the game serves as a reminder that Oklahoma State has the top red-zone defense in the Big 12. Contrary to the stories you hear of how awful OSU’s defense is, in fact, they have some real guts, especially when it counts. Texas Tech’s a good team and Seth Doege’s probably the most underrated quarterback in the league, one of the most underrated in the nation. Tech’s defense, a real liability in past seasons, is improved. But, in one of those odd things numbers can do, Tech isn’t especially strong at home. It’s just 2-3 at Lubbock and their signature win of the year over Oklahoma was on the road.

My pick: Oklahoma State knows it’s playing for a shot at a national championship. Not only would it be the first ever for the Cowboys, this is already among the two or three best seasons in school history. With the maturity of their quarterback Brandon “AARP” Weeden, they’re not about to let a game like this sneak up on them. The Pokes will be ready and will win this one big. I already can’t wait for Dec. 3, the day when the eyes of the nation will be on Stillwater for the biggest Bedlam game ever. The winner deserves a shot at the national championship, whether it’s the team in red or orange.

Baylor at Kansas
Upsets happen. We’ve seen a few doozies in the Big 12 this season. Texas Tech beats Oklahoma then loses to Iowa State. Sometimes, a game just has this vibe about it that tells you, “watch out, this could be deeper than you think.” But I just don’t see any way KU comes away with a victory here. For one thing, Kansas’ defense is just awful and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III is a one-man wrecking crew. Baylor leads the league in total offense and that’s almost entirely about RG3 (although they have a very good offensive line, too.) KU’s Steven Johnson leads the conference in tackles and there’s something to be said about that. But really, there’s almost nothing else going on at KU.

My pick: Senior Day, the final home game in Lawrence this season. You almost feel sorry for the Jayhawks. But this is just one more loss in a season that I expect to be nothing but losses for Kansas. Baylor runs away with it.

Texas A&M at Kansas State
How things change over the course of a season. At the beginning I picked A&M third in the conference and KSU ninth. Oops. A&M’s still a good team, standing at 5-4 with Missouri being the only team that’s beaten them that’s not still in the mix for the national championship. But as the Aggies may be less than we’d expected, KSU is far more. I’ve said repeatedly that this is mostly about Bill Snyder, the best coach the Big 12’s ever seen. But you know what? I also want to give some praise to the players, particularly quarterback Collin Klein. He’s No. 9 in pass efficiency in a 10-team league and has no receivers among the league’s best, yet he’s second only to Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle in scoring. Nigel Malone leads the league in interceptions. A bunch of guys I thought were nobodies at the start of the season have come together to be somebodies, very good somebodies. Kansas State’s not got the third best talent in the league. Not even close. But they have found a way to win over teams with better players. They’re smart and they’re gutsy.

My pick: Over and over this year, Kansas State’s beaten teams they shouldn’t. The roll continues. The Aggies have better football players, but K-State’s a better football team. The Wildcats win it.

~•~

Extra Credit–Yeah, it’s time to start getting ready for these guys…

• Alabama wipes out Mississippi State in Starkville.

• Arkansas keeps their championship hopes alive, beating Tennessee at home.

• Game of the week’s in Athens, where two strong teams meet. Georgia’s been on a hot streak of late and I like the Dawgs to beat Auburn.

• I really like South Carolina, especially in front of their awesome fans in that other Columbia, take the Gamecocks over Florida.

• Western Kentucky’s going to be slaughtered by LSU in Baton Rouge.

• Louisiana Tech’s 5-4 but has won four in a row and lost three of those games by razor thin margins to Southern Miss, Mississippi State and a very under-appreciated Houston club. I like the Bulldogs to upset Ole Miss in Oxford.

 

How’s that for a first week in the SEC, y’all?