Tag Archives: Gary Pinkel

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.

 

 

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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.

MISSOURI FOOTBALL CONFERENCE AWARDS
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
OFFENSE OFFENSE
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
DEFENSE DEFENSE
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
SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL TEAMS
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

Alabama overpowers Mizzou in 42-13 win

Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports 

Photos by Joe Trezza, KBIA Sports

ATLANTA — There was tension in the Georgia Dome with a little less than five minutes to play in the third quarter of the Southeastern Conference Championship between Missouri and Alabama.

Despite losing defensive end Shane Ray to an ejection in the second quarter, and despite its defense allowing three first-half touchdowns, Missouri managed to whittle Alabama’s lead down to eight points with 4:37 to play in the third period when kicker Andrew Baggett’s 33-yard field goal made it 21-13.

Scores of Alabama fans returned to their seats, their “Roll Tide” chants ceasing for the first time all game. The pocket of gold among the sea of crimson seemed to come alive, finally having something to cheer for. Missouri had fought back from a 21-3 deficit to make it a one-possession game, and maybe it could take down mighty Alabama.

As it turned out the tension was fleeting. Alabama responded with a pair of touchdown drives that combined to cover 154 yards on 18 plays and rolled to a 42-13 victory over No. 14 Missouri (10-3, 7-2).

“They answered,” head coach Gary Pinkel said. “They did what you’ve got to do. That to me was two statement drives from their standpoint.” Read more of this post

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

Missouri beats Arkansas to clinch second straight SEC East title

By Brandon Kiley, KBIA Sports 

Many experts didn’t believe Missouri could compete with the SEC in football. That seems silly now, after Missouri (10-2, 7-1) finished a drive late in the fourth quarter to take a 21-14 lead against Arkansas (6-6, 2-6).

For the second straight year, the SEC East division title came down to the final week of the season. Read more of this post

Media Day Notes: Penton returns, Steward undergoes surgery

By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports 

Tigers two games away from SEC East crown: Repeating as champions of the Southeastern Conference’s East Division was unthinkable for Missouri midway through its regular season schedule.

Division rival Georgia had just rolled into town and smacked the Tigers 34-0 in their own stadium. Quarterback Maty Mauk committed five turnovers and the defense allowed a Bulldogs’ rushing attack for 210 yards, despite missing star running back Todd Gurley. The loss was Missouri’s second in three games — the other one coming against lowly Indiana — dropping it to 4-2 on the year and 1-1 in SEC play.

But flash forward a little more than five weeks and somehow, some way, the Tigers (8-2, 5-1) are in prime position to play in the SEC Championship game for the second straight year. Read more of this post

Media Day Notes: Missouri prepares to play without two starters

By Brandon Kiley, KBIA Sports 

The big news out of Missouri football media day on Monday was the indefinite suspension of starting cornerback Aarion Penton. The suspension comes after Penton was arrested early Friday morning for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor in Columbia.

“These are young guys,” Missouri cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford said. “They all make mistakes, just like my kids. I try to treat them just like (my kids). We move on, we learn from it, and hopefully they don’t make the same mistakes again. We try to use this as a teaching moment.”

Penton’s suspension comes at an inopportune time for the Tigers. Read more of this post

Mizzou defense dominates in 20-10 win over Kentucky

Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports
Photos by Brandon Kiley, KBIA Sports

Missouri defensive end Shane Ray (56) jumps to knock down Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles’ (14) pass at the line of scrimmage. Missouri defensive end Markus Golden (33) applies pressure to the quarterback after beating Kentucky offensive tackle Jordan Swindle (70) around the edge.

Missouri defensive end Shane Ray (56) jumps to knock down Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles’ (14) pass at the line of scrimmage. Missouri defensive end Markus Golden (33) applies pressure to the quarterback after beating Kentucky offensive tackle Jordan Swindle (70) around the edge.

COLUMBIA — Darrian Miller didn’t stand a chance.

With less than a minute remaining in the game and his team facing fourth-and-7, the Kentucky Wildcats left tackle found himself lined up against Missouri defensive end Shane Ray.

The ball was snapped, and Ray did to Miller what he’s done to so many offensive linemen this year: use his blazing Read more of this post

Mizzou Football Media Day Notes

By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

Ground game trending upward: A Missouri offense that looked listless through four games of Southeastern Conference play finally showed signs of life in its weekend win over Vanderbilt.

While was it not a dominant performance, the Tigers at least showed the ability to sustain long scoring drives en-route to racking up 385 yards of total offense — by far their healthiest output through four games of conference play.

Read more of this post

Mauk back on track

andy hill maukWith no touchdown passes over the last three weeks, Maty Mauk’s first season as starting quarterback for the Missouri Tigers has stalled. KBIA Sports’ Brandon Kiley has a midseason report.

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