Tag Archives: football

Player Development Fuels Tigers’ SEC Success

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) runs back his interception against Toledo in September, one of 10 interceptions Missouri has this season.

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) runs back his interception against Toledo in September, one of 10 interceptions Missouri has this season.

By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

COLUMBIA — Missouri defensive end Markus Golden is one of the most disruptive forces in all of college football. In 12 games, the senior from St. Louis has registered 16 tackles for loss and 8 ½ sacks.

It’s easy to understand why Golden reaps success if you’ve seen him play. Golden is a rare breed of defensive end with the speed to go around opposing lineman and the strength to bulldoze them. What’s more difficult to understand is how Golden turned into the quarterback-crushing, run-stuffing defensive end we see today. Read more of this post


Thinking Out Loud, Saturday Sports: Remembering Kent Heitholt

Darren Hellwege logoThe news last week of the release of Ryan Ferguson brought back memories of the horrible crime that took the life of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. I talk with current Sports editor Joe Walljasper about Heitholt, his friend and boss. You’ll hear from Southern Illinois basketball coach Barry Hinson in a post game interview that is nothing short of hysterical. And I start it all off with a look back over a 3-0 start to women’s basketball at Mizzou.

Length: 51:49

Darren Hellwege is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the United States Basketball Writers Association.

Thinking Out Loud, Saturday Sports: Molly Kreklow at the mic

Darren Hellwege logoAug. 24, 2013

Darren’s long form interview this week is 15 minutes with Molly Kreklow about her senior year with Mizzou volleyball. You’ll also get his weekly football update and the latest from the soccer pitch.

Length: 58:11

Darren Hellwege is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the United States Basketball Writers Association.

Mizzou Football Begins Spring Practice

By John Guminski

Missouri seeks first SEC victory against South Carolina

By The Associated Press

James Franklin will be a player to watch when the Tigers visit South Carolina on Saturday. Photo by Pete Marek

Missouri (2-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 7 South Carolina (3-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Line: South Carolina by 10.
Series record: Missouri leads 2-0 (Missouri won 24-14 in  the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl and 38-31 in the 2005 Independence Bowl.)

South Carolina is hoping to stay undefeated and beat another SEC Eastern Conference opponent. The Gamecocks opened the season by beating SEC East opponent Vanderbilt 17-13 in Nashville. Since then, South Carolina has beaten East Carolina and UAB by an average margin of 40 points. Missouri is seeking its first league victory in its inaugural SEC season. The Tigers are also looking to keep their record perfect in all-time meetings against South Carolina.


South Carolina QBs Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson against Missouri’s pass defense. Thompson has thrown for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns the past two weeks in relief of an injured Shaw. But Missouri has given up only 590 yards through the air this season. The Tigers have four interceptions.


Missouri: QB James Franklin. The Tigers junior missed last week’s 24-20 win over Arizona State because of inflamation in his shoulder. He’s completed 61 percent of his passes with 400 yards and three TDs in two games.
South Carolina: RB Marcus Lattimore. The tailback had only 25 carries combined in the past two victories over East Carolina and UAB. Expect Lattimore to see a lot more work this week with the Gamecocks heading back into SEC play.


Lattimore set South Carolina’s career record with his 34th touchdown last week, breaking the mark he shared with Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and Harold Green. … Missouri lost its first SEC contest, 41-20, to Georgia two weeks ago. The Tigers led 17-9 but turned it over twice in the third quarter as Georgia took control. … South Carolina has won seven straight games, two shy of the school record set in 1984 … Missouri has won its only previous meeting against coach Steve Spurrier, the Tigers taking a 38-31 victory at the Liberty Bowl over the Gamecocks in Spurrier’s first season at South Carolina in 2005. … Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is only six victories away from catching Dan Devine for second on the Tigers career wins list.

Storylines abound for Missouri’s inaugural SEC matchup

by The Associated Press

A key match-up will be quarterback James Franklin against Georgia’s defensive line.

No. 7 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Missouri (1-0, 0-0), 6:45 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Line: Georgia by 2.5
Series record: Georgia leads 1-0, won 14-0 in 1960 Orange Bowl.

Missouri totaled 48 wins in its last five seasons in the Big 12, yet there’s a perception it must prove itself worthy all over again in the SEC. This is the first step, and an overflow crowd is expected to witness a game coach Gary Pinkel said “will go down in history.” Georgia seeks to build momentum after dropping one notch in the polls following an unimpressive 45-23 opening victory over Buffalo, who was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference. Several players missed the opener due to injury concerns or disciplinary suspensions and getting some back will help Georgia.

KEY MATCH-UP: Missouri quarterback James Franklin vs. the Georgia defense
Franklin is as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm after rushing for 15 touchdowns last year. He’ll put pressure on a defense that will be without cornerback Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser, expected to serve two-game suspensions for offseason arrests. No word yet whether safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, two others suspended for the opener, will be back this week.

Georgia: Freshman tailback Todd Gurley was SEC co-freshman player of week after rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in eight attempts and returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Murray is the active SEC career leader in total offense, completions, touchdown passes and yards passing.
Missouri: Marcus Murphy was SEC special teams player of week after setting a school record with punt returns for touchdowns of 70 and 72 yards in the opener. Murphy is the backup tailback behind Kendial Lawrence, who had career bests with a 76-yard touchdown and 121 yards rushing overall. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden had a 20-yard interception for a touchdown in the opener and has an interception in each of his last three games.

NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton was Georgia QB in only meeting between schools. … Georgia has lost its last two SEC openers, both times against ranked South Carolina teams. The last time Georgia faced a school other than South Carolina in the SEC opener was in 1991. … Georgia had seven NFL draft picks last season, tying Oklahoma for second most in nation. … Missouri plays its first four games at home, where it’s 2-1 the last two seasons vs. ranked opponents including a win over No. 3 Texas in 2010. … Missouri has won five in a row. … Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is 9-2 against SEC members, including 5-1 against fellow ex-Big 12 member Texas A&M. … Tigers scored five TDs on offense, two on defense and two on special teams in opener.

From football game to fashion show

Story by Alex Silverman

Photos by Kelsey Alumbaugh 

Three volunteers model the new football uniforms during halftime of the spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

As the officials’ whistles blew to end the second half of the Black & Gold Game on Saturday, it signaled a shift from a football game to a fashion show.  The surface where the Tigers, just moments earlier, battled for the chance to prove themselves, was quickly transformed into a runway for models to show off the latest in Missouri style.

Fortunately for Missouri fans, nobody showed up looking like Lady Gaga for their stroll down the “catwalk.”  Instead, Nike rolled out new uniforms for five Missouri sports teams Saturday, a reveal that fans have anticipated for months.

Missouri unveiled uniforms for soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and football.  One sport at a time, athletes from each team strutted down the runway, through a cloud of smoke and past lines of photographers.  Each team’s representatives struck poses for pictures and did their best fasion show twirl for the media and the crowd.

It was a particularly exciting day for Don Barnes, director of equipment operations for Missouri, who worked closely with Nike during the rebranding process.  He stressed the importance of “the look” to the student-athletes.

“They go get dressed (before a game) and they’ve gotta find the biggest mirror in there,” Barnes said.  “They’ll stand in front of the mirror for five minutes before they come out on the field.  It’s the look.  Nike gets that.”

While Barnes acknowledged the importance of the fans embracing the school’s new look, he also stressed the importance of appealing to recruits through aesthetics in college sports today.

“We want the fans to be happy, but that 18-year-old recruit, that’s what it takes,” Barnes said.  “For us to get those five or six star recruits to sign, it’s about that uniform.  It’s an arms race for us and uniforms are the next step.  There’s probably 20 schools that have two, three, four helmets; we need to have that really to keep up with the Joneses.”

The new Missouri look focuses on the use of the tiger head logo that has been featured at midfield on Faurot Field in recent seasons.  The football team’s helmets, which were previously adorned with the traditional block “M,” now feature the tiger head.  The program’s new font, which is incorporated into each sport’s uniforms, is sleek and exudes a sense of speed.  Tiger stripes have also been incorporated into the Missouri motif, and are particularly noticeable on the new basketball uniforms.

Looks weren’t the only focus in designing the Tigers’ new uniforms.  Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, took pride in the technological advances that he believes will enhance the performance of the athletes.

“It’s all about lightweight performance,” Van Horne said.  “Every ounce really matters to these athletes. They’ll notice how breathable it is and how it give them the flexibility and mobility that they truly need.”

Change and evolution were clearly the themes of the day, but Barnes said that he and his staff were committed to honoring Missouri tradition with the new uniforms.

“We’re not going out there, we’re not going flamboyant,” Barnes said.  “On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re not that 10 like the West Coast schools.  Missouri people are not flashy like that.  This is representing the state of Missouri.  These are passionate fans: they’re fun, they’re likeable, they’re hard-working.  We wanted a brand that reflected that.”

With the move to the Southeastern Conference set to take place this upcoming season, Barnes said he believes it’s a new era of higher visibility for Missouri.

“Our brand is going coastal,” Barnes said.  “We were doing this before the SEC move, but now that it’s happened, everything is coming together.  Everything is clicking at the right time.”

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Mizzou AD Mike Alden answers questions from the media regarding coach Gary Pinkel

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel was arrested Wednesday night, Nov. 17, 2011, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. On Thursday, Mike Alden, the university’s director of athletics, met with the media to discuss the disciplinary action taken against Pinkel. This is the question and answer portion of the press conference. See this post to view Alden’s opening statements.

Length: 13:38

Darren’s Take: Week 11 predictions

darren hellwege logo

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?


The incomparably calm James Franklin

James Franklin listens to John Mayer

James Franklin likes a dose of John Mayer before games. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)

Starting quarterback James Franklin has not yet begun to establish his legacy on the field, but this much is already clear: Missouri football has never seen a gentleman quite like him. 

While his teammates’ pregame playlists include hip-hop and heavy rock, Franklin plugs in to some tunes with a little less pop.

“I don’t really listen to fast tempo music,” Franklin said.

“I kind of like to listen more to John Mayer, something like that.”

John Mayer? 

That’s right. Before willingly subjecting himself to full speed, bone-rattling collisions with 300 pound men, Mizzou’s starting quarterback warms up with something to the tune of, “Your body is a wonderland.”

“I don’t necessarily like to get amped up,” Franklin said. “I like to think. I like to relax.”

Each successive quarterback in assistant coach David Yost’s system has been markedly different from the last. Yes, they all ran the spread offense, with the quarterback positioned several yards behind the center in the shotgun. The similarities really end there.

“He can do some things that Blaine couldn’t do and Chase couldn’t do,” coach Gary Pinkel said.

Blaine Gabbert had all the preferred physical qualities of an NFL quarterback, despite questions about his so-called intangibles. Chase Daniel was a winner–an undersized, stubborn competitor who threw a catchable ball. Brad Smith had the wheels.

“He’s not Brad Smith running the football,” Yost said, “as far as that elusive wide receiver playing quarterback, but he ran the ball in high school.

“He has a feel for cutting back; he has a feel for the line blocking scheme in front of him,” Yost said.

So he can run, but can he carry the team? Franklin hasn’t yet shown the same kind of momentum-feeding leadership flashed by Smith and Daniel. His throws lack the velocity Gabbert put on the ball. Still, he could be the calmest field general the Tigers have lined up behind center during Pinkel’s tenure.

Asked what he likes most out of his quarterback, senior wide receiver Wes Kemp pointed to Franklin’s composure.

“I don’t see him get rattled too much. He’s not a curser, so he doesn’t really get down on himself. He might throw a bad ball one play, and the next play, he can’t remember what he did,” Kemp said.

During coach Pinkel’s tenure, a lack of continuity at quarterback has never hindered the Tigers–at least not yet. But until 11 a.m. Saturday, when Mizzou kicks-off against Miami of Ohio, no one really knows if Franklin can keep that streak of success going.

Critics question his ability to play with passion and intensity. Yet if he plays smart football and develops his ability to make quick decisions in the pocket, Franklin appears to have the gifts to guide a sufficiently talented Mizzou football team to a solid finish.