Tag Archives: Mitch Morse

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

Missouri under-rated coming off 12-win year

By The Associated Press
It’s a new year and the same old story at Missouri, coming off a 12-win season and once again lightly regarded. Time to show ’em all — again.
Getting picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division should serve as motivation for a program being marked down Read more of this post

Missouri back in Show-Me mode again 

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA — Just like last season, Missouri begins fall workouts way under the radar.

The Tigers are coming off a 12-win season and SEC Eastern division title, but must replace numerous key players including NFL draft picks Kony Ealy, Justin Britt, E.J. Gaines and Michael Sam. James Franklin, a three-year starter at quarterback, and running back Henry Josey are among nine players in all at NFL training camps.

Missouri was picked fourth in the Eastern Division, which will serve as motivation for the returning players who Read more of this post

Injury knocks out another Missouri lineman

By the Associated Press

Missouri’s Britt out with knee injury

Missouri right tackle Justin Britt will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his right knee against Florida.

The junior starter left the Tigers’ loss at No. 7 Florida in the second quarter Saturday. After the game, coach Gary Pinkel speculated that Britt tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Pinkel said Monday that the extent of the injury will be known when Britt has surgery Oct. 16.

Backup center Brad McNulty is projected to make his third career start this week at Tennessee while Mitch Morse will shift to right tackle.

Britt and freshman left guard Evan Boehm have been the only offensive linemen to start every game for Missouri (4-5, 1-5 Southeastern Conference).

Missouri frustrated, beaten by Vanderbilt for second SEC home loss

Story by Joe Vozzelli

Photos by Peter Marek

MIssouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson drags Jordan Rodgers to the ground for his only sack of the night on Oct. 6, 2012 at Faurot Field. The sack was a lone bright spot in the 19-15 Missouri loss. Photo by Peter Marek.

For the second straight time in a home Southeastern Conference game, Missouri’s players listened as the opposing teams’ fans serenaded them.

While Vanderbilt ran out the clock late in the fourth quarter to secure a 19-15 victory over Missouri, Commodores fans chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C” to remind Missouri that the team has yet to record a conference win in its inaugural SEC season.

The barb was reminiscent of Georgia’s “old-man football” chant after beating the Tigers on September 8, turning lineman Sheldon Richardson’s comments into a derisive farewell.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said it’s hard to formulate a message for his players after a tough loss.

“It’s just difficult. I don’t think there’s any magic (answer) to it there,” he said. “Our guys are very competitive and they want to win and be successful. I’ve been here before and we don’t like it.”

Missouri defensive back Kip Edwards didn’t shy away from being honest about scene in the Tigers’ locker room after the game.

“It’s quiet, you don’t hear anybody talking. It hurts,” he said.

Edwards had an interesting reaction, though, when he was asked if this loss to the Commodores has led to frustration within the locker room.

“Frustration? No, I don’t think there’s any frustration when we’ve got a game next week,” he said.

Pinkel saw a combination of emotions from his players after they walked back to the locker room following the game.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry and they should be,” he said.

Part of the dismay had to stem from Missouri’s offensive woes after quarterback James Franklin suffered a knee injury. Franklin appeared to suffer the injury on a 23-yard run in the first quarter, receiving a helmet-to-knee hit from Commodores safety Eric Samuels. Franklin stayed in the game for the remainder of Missouri’s offensive series, which resulted in a 28-yard Andrew Baggett field goal to give Missouri a 6-0 lead.

The injury forced Franklin into the Missouri locker room. He emerged later, wearing sweatpants and a black baseball hat. Franklin has a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Pinkel said, and will miss “a few weeks.” The coach doesn’t expect Missouri’s starting quarterback to play against Alabama next Saturday.

Franklin also missed Missouri’s game against Arizona State on September 15 because of an inflamed bursa sac in his right throwing shoulder.

Pinkel said this season has been tough on Franklin.

“James was really playing good. So I feel bad for him. Seems like, for some reason, the injury bug has hit him,” Pinkel said.

Franklin wasn’t the only Missouri player to leave the game with an injury. Tailback/punt returner Marcus Murphy left with a dislocated ring finger and starting center Mitch Morse came out with a knee injury. Pinkel doesn’t expect Morse to play against Alabama either. The Tigers also missed linebacker Will Ebner, the team’s leading tackler, who sat out the contest with an injured hamstring.

Also missing from the game was freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, who was suspended from the game after being arrested earlier in the week on a drug charge.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, who took over for Franklin, struggled for much of the game, going 9-for-30 with 189 yards and a touchdown.

Most of Berkstresser’s passing yards happened on an 85-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Bud Sasser. The touchdown reception was Missouri’s longest pass completion since a 98-yard hookup between quarterback Pete Woods and tailback Joe Stewart against Nebraska in October 1976.

Sasser wasn’t sure if the pass was intended for him, or wide receiver Gahn McGaffie, who jumped for the ball, as well.

The long touchdown closed Missouri’s deficit to 16-15 with an extra point left but the Tigers weren’t able to tie the game, bobbling the point after snap.

Sasser said mistakes like those can be “game changers.”

Defensive end Kony Ealy said Missouri’s struggles on offense didn’t cause the Missouri defense to become frustrated, even though the defense held the Commodores to 295 total offense yards.

“We’ve got to execute our plays. You can’t get frustrated with anybody else. You’ve got to do your job,” he said.

Missouri (3-3) will need to execute on a high level next week when it faces No. 1 Alabama (5-0). The Tigers will play host to the Crimson Tide at 2:30 p.m. at Faurot Field on CBS.

Edwards was blunt about how the team should approach the week leading up to the Alabama game.

“It’s time for our leaders to lead and our captains to lead as well,” he said.

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Missouri’s secret weapons could be return of Elvis Fisher, strength of offensive line

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

As I’ve mentioned before, I think there’s a lack of respect for Missouri among those making predictions for the 2012 Southeastern Conference. There are several reasons, but today we’ll explore the biggest, literally and figuratively.

Those who think Mizzou will struggle in the SEC already know about James Franklin. I doubt they’re overlooking E. J. Gaines, and they might even get how strong MU’s linebacking corps is. But the offensive line, and specifically Elvis Fisher, is Missouri’s secret weapon. It’s hard to fathom a guy that large (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) named Elvis is going to sneak up on Georgia and South Carolina, but there it is.

Offensive tackle Elvis Fisher is back after missing last season with a knee injury.

Missouri will be better than people think.
 It all starts at left tackle with Fisher on the offensive line. And, ironically, even some Mizzou fans may have forgotten about Fisher. A two-time all-conference performer who was a freshman All-American, Fisher lost his senior year to injury but, thanks to a hardship ruling from the NCAA, will be back to play this season.  And it cannot be overstated what good news this is. Experience? He has 40 starts and has played in bowl games and against some of the roughest customers on defensive lines across the country. With some of the stud defensive linemen the SEC will throw the Tigers’ way, having him in practice every day makes everyone better, and having him on the line on Saturdays will be a major boost to the offense in every way possible. Fisher is a character guy who doesn’t take plays off.

Anthony Gatti has roomed with Fisher and had that leadership in his ear for a couple of years now, and whether he’s just bench strength behind Fisher or contributes elsewhere on the line, watch for big things from Gatti in years to come.  He’ll be pushed by redshirt freshman Michael Boddie, another talented tough guy.

Moving in a step, it looks like well-traveled Travis Ruth will anchor the left guard slot. When injuries put the line in flux last season, Ruth stepped in and started seven games at center, playing very well in the middle. Now back in his natural position, he’s another experienced senior. His smarts aren’t limited to football — the Jefferson City Jay is a three-time first team Academic All-Big 12 selection.

Max Copeland is a high amps former walk-on who practices every day as if it’s his final day on earth, and is a blast to watch — if you don’t have to line up against him. Copeland and redshirt frosh Connor McGovern give the Tigers some insurance behind Ruth. McGovern, the best high school player in the state of North Dakota his senior year, is the future of the position but also has Ruth’s ability to move up and down the line if need be.

The center position at Mizzou has a grand tradition. Nearly all the snaps in the 11 seasons under Gary Pinkel at MU have come from three guys but sophomore Mitch Morse looks ready to step into those big shoes.  He saw time in all 13 games last year, but really made his move during spring ball this year as he took over the starting center position and was selected most improved offensive lineman. If for some reason he doesn’t work out, there are several young prospects in the wings.

Brad McNulty was a pancake blocking road grader in high school, Robert Luce has an extra year’s experience on the other backups and Mitch Hall is a walk-on who’s worked his fanny off in the weight room and may also contribute as long snapper.

Speaking of the weight room, starting right guard Jack Meiners is another weight room demon with lifting records in Pat Ivey’s torture chamber to prove it. He’s another experienced hand, too, with 38 games played so far, including some very rare appearances as a true freshman (Pinkel almost never plays freshmen on the O-line.) Junior Mark Hill has been around a while and has overcome some health issues. The former Branson Pirate is absolutely qualified to step in and start if he has to. Nick Demien may be third on the depth chart but he’s going to be very hard to keep off the field and has a very bright future ahead of him. Big freshman Kyle Starke also gives some quality depth at the position.

On the right tackle slot, junior Justin Britt gets the starting nod. He filled in nicely for Fisher on the left side and even caught a pass against Kansas (Although I wouldn’t look for a lot of pass plays involving the right guard, at least he didn’t drop it.) At 300 pounds, he’s the biggest of the Tiger starting linemen. There’s going to be fierce competition behind him with Taylor Chappell and 325-pound monster Chris Freeman. For now, Chappell’s ahead as he has more experience and is much more polished, but Freeman impressed me with his effort in the Black and Gold game. I’d not be the least bit surprised to see both starting for the Tigers in the years to come.

The Newcomers

On the defensive side of the ball, Lee’s Summit’s Evan Boehm is a very exciting recruiting catch for Mizzou. One of the best high school linemen in the nation, Boehm may be another rare find who breaks the Pinkel tradition of redshirting offensive linemen as a matter of course.

Jordan Williams was also heavily recruited and could have chosen among some of the best schools in the nation but like others from Ryan High School (Denton,Texas) he’s chosen Mizzou. That he’s 270 before he starts a college weight program is exciting, and he’s a particularly skilled run blocker.

Penn State is Linebacker U. Southern California and Oklahoma State have produced a stable of tailback superstars. And offensive linemen from Michigan and Texas litter NFL rosters.

In a like fashion, few schools in the nation have produced a group of tight ends like Missouri in recent years. Missouri alum Kellen Winslow is known as football’s best ever tight end, college or pro, having played eight seasons for the San Diego Chargers after his college career at Mizzou. In the last decade or so guys like Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman and Michael Egnew have caused some to dub Missouri “Tight End U.” And the next in line is Eric Waters. After waiting patiently behind Egnew, Waters looks ready to take his place in the line of tight end stars in the black and gold. He’s a big tough guy who can run routes, make catches and do great things with the ball once he’s caught it. He can also block, which could be even more key in the new SEC schedule the Tigers face.

Former Baylor Bear Steve Drain backs up Waters, though he’s certainly capable would be a big drop off.  So, it’s little surprise that this position was a priority in recruiting, netting the Tigers two outstanding prospects. The first, Sean Culkin, is encouraging in several ways. Not only is he a strong receiver with good hands and serious speed for a TE, he’s also a sign that the Tigers can recruit in Florida, which will be of immeasurable importance to compete in the SEC. Brandon Holiefield is another new freshman tight end. His name may not ring a bell — he was added after National Letter of Intent Signing Day — he’s another stud athlete who played basketball and hit 6-feet-11-inches in the high jump. And oh, by the way, he’s also from Florida.

Let’s not forget a big reason why Mizzou’s had such offensive line talent and is recruiting so well. A tip of the a cap toward coaches Josh Henson (a fellow Okie) and Bruce Walker, one of several original members of Pinkel’s staff that came from Toledo way back when. The consistency of assistant coaching at Mizzou is absolutely a major reason this program looks so different than it did when we said goodbye to Larry Smith after the 2000 season.

Camp Preview: Offensive Line

Mizzou should fare well along the line of scrimmage. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)

If you prescribe to the belief that Football games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage, then the Tigers have enough experience to be very competitive in the Big 12. Today we look at the offensive line, where Mizzou returns four starters from last year, with one glaring question mark: center.

Former Mizzou center and undrafted free agent for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens’ Tim Barnes anchored the middle of the line for three years. He followed Adam Spieker, a four year starter. Center has developed into a marquee position in head coach Gary Pinkel’s offense: now 6-foot-5 junior Travis Ruth must play sound, smart football or risk losing his starting position to 6-foot-6 freshman Mitch Morse.

Along the rest of the line, the Tigers return a bevy of proven starters. Read more of this post