Tag Archives: Steve Spurrier

What to watch for as Missouri takes on South Carolina

Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

Missouri (3-1) begins Southeastern Conference play against No. 13 South Carolina (3-1) on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Here are four things to keep in mind before the Tigers and Gamecocks kick off at 6 p.m.:

  • Marcus Murphy versus South Carolina’s special teams unit: Embarrassing was South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s adjective of choice to describe his team’s 48-34 road victory over Vanderbilt last weekend. The Head Ball Coach sounded especially irked by a Gamecocks special teams unit that allowed two kickoff returns to be returned for touchdowns. The Gamecocks’ inability to limit big special teams plays last weekend could bode well for Missouri’s Marcus Murphy. The junior is averaging 39 yards on four kickoff returns this season, including a 100-yarder he took back for a touchdown in Missouri’s season opener.

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No Manziel? No Clowney? SEC says no problem

Mizzou predicted to finish 4th in East Division

By The Associated Press

The Southeastern Conference finally got knocked off the mountaintop.

Now, Alabama and other aspiring national contenders are trying to begin the climb back in a league that suddenly has a fresh feel.

Gone are marquee names like Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel and Heisman Trophy finalists AJ McCarron and Read more of this post

2014 Missouri Tigers football preview: South Carolina

Darren Hellwege is previewing each of Missouri’s football opponents for the 2014 season. The previews are being published Aug. 1 – 13 and will appear in the order of play.

Missouri at South Carolina
: Sept. 27, time TBD
Record: Gamecocks finished 11-2 overall in 2013 and haven’t lost at Williams-Brice Stadium in two years; overall an 18 game win streak in Columbia

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

After trailing 17-0 behind backup Dylan Thompson, the Gamecocks brought injured Connor Shaw off the bench for an amazing comeback, defeating the Tigers 27-24 in double overtime, Mizzou’s first loss of the 2013 season. Finished behind Missouri for the SEC East championship, but with an 11-2 season and No. 4 finish in both USA Today/Coaches poll and AP.  For the third year in a row, South Carolina beat the eventual SEC Eastern Division champ (in this case, Missouri) but ended up one game behind. And they’ll compete for (and I predict finally win) the East Division crown once again this year.

In a nutshell: If new QB Thompson steps up (and I think he will) Read more of this post

Mizzou squanders 17-0 lead, suffers first loss

Photos by Tim Nwachukwu
Story by the Associated Press

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk scrambles as South Carolina linebacker  Marcquis Roberts tries to bring him down.

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk scrambles as South Carolina linebacker Marcquis Roberts tries to bring him down.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With a 17-0 lead entering the fourth quarter, No. 5 Missouri found itself 15 minutes away from having the opportunity to clinch the Southeastern Conference East Division with a win at home next week against Tennessee.

The only problem was that the Tigers had to face South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who entered Saturday night’s game in the third quarter and converted 20 consecutive passes in the teams’ matchup last year.

After pitching a shutout in the first half, Missouri yielded five consecutive Gamecocks scoring drives to end the game and lose 27-24 in two overtimes. Maty Mauk threw for 249 yards and a touchdown in his second career start, while Marcus Murphy added two scores on the ground.

“So its not one guy here. We all could have done something different today too to help win that football game”.

But Andrew Baggett’s 24-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left goal post, leaving the team in a vulnerable position Read more of this post

Mizzou, A&M holding their own as SEC newcomers

By Brett Martell
The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — It looks like bigger does mean better in the competitive Southeastern Conference—not just in terms of television ratings, but on the field as well.

When Texas A&M and Missouri began SEC play a season ago, few doubted the addition of the two schools would bring more television viewers to the league’s games from Texas and Midwest. Still, there were questions about whether adding a pair of Big 12 teams would dilute the quality on the field in the mighty SEC, winner of seven straight football national titles.

Apparently not.

Just last weekend, the Aggies and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel, pulled out a thriller at Mississippi, while unbeaten Missouri did what No. 6 LSU could not: upended Georgia in Athens. Halfway through the 2013 season, the Aggies and the newest Tigers to join the SEC have one loss between them: A&M’s one-score loss to No. 1 and two-time defending national champion Alabama.

“It made our league better,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said when asked about the results of expansion on the field.

Some of those who represent the SEC’s traditional powers have been a bit surprised by the quick ascension of the newcomers in the league standings.

“I’m shocked, but then again, I’m not,” Tennessee running back Rajion Neal said. “Those have been some pretty good teams. I can remember times where Texas A&M were making their strides and I can remember Missouri was in the top 10.”

Others saw it coming.

“It doesn’t shock me at all,” said Florida coach Will Muschamp, who was familiar with both former Big 12 programs from his time as a defensive coordinator at Texas.

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier said he always thought Missouri and Texas A&M had “outstanding traditions at their places.”

Spurrier said he had no doubt Missouri now has its “sights on playing for the (conference) championship in Atlanta,” and that the Aggies’ Manziel is “the toast of the league.”

Added LSU coach Les Miles: “Both Texas A&M and Missouri are much improved from when I was in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State.”

The promise of greater TV ratings seems to be playing out as predicted. A few weeks ago, CBS announced its broadcast of No. 1 Alabama at then-No. 6 Texas A&M earned the highest ratings for a CBS regular season college football game in 23 years. On Wednesday, the network announced that its Saturday SEC broadcasts are averaging 7.3 million viewers, the most at this point of a season since CBS began featuring SEC games in 2001.

Next year, the conference launches the SEC Network, which is expected to be picked up by cable providers in every team’s market – meaning millions more viewers which the network might not have had if not for expansion into the states of Texas and Missouri.

Expansion did not come without some logistical concerns. Saban said he’s still concerned about how scheduling will work out. Vanderbilt Athletic Director David Williams said the new travel itineraries will take some getting used to for the teams and fans.

“There’s always things that you sort of have to get over the hump and you know adding two more teams, there were a lot of logistic problems,” Williams said. “But all of the other stuff is great. Two outstanding universities. They’ve brought a lot of excitement, a lot of fans to the SEC, good teams. So yeah, I think the expansion has worked real well.”

If travel has become more onerous for fans, it hasn’t really shown up in terms of attendance. If anything, Manziel’s star power has provided an attendance boost in every stadium the Aggies have visited.

In 2011, the last season before expansion, SEC stadiums were at 95.8 percent capacity. In 2012, that figure rose to 97.4. So far this season, it’s at 98.7.

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze has been dealt a pair of home losses by A&M, falling victim to remarkable performances by Manziel in both. He hasn’t faced Missouri yet, but will host Gary Pinkel’s Tigers on Nov. 23.

“Competition-wise, they both have added something to our conference,” Freeze said. “It gives us another market and expands the financial benefits that we all reap.

“The only negative I have is that you just don’t get to see the other half of the league enough,” Freeze added. “I haven’t seen any negative other than that and that’s just a personal negative. Probably everyone doesn’t share that opinion.”

Associated Press Writers David Brandt in Oxford, Miss.; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C.; Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla.; Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn.; and Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report.

Mizzou heads to No. 8 Florida as a considerable underdog

Missouri-Florida Preview Capsule

By the Associated Press

Missouri (4-4, 1-4 SEC) at No. 8 Florida (7-1, 6-1), 11 a.m. Central (ESPN2)
Line: Florida by 17.
Series Record: Missouri leads 1-0.

What’s at stake

For Florida, maybe the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division. For Missouri, a chance to build on its first conference victory. Florida needs to win and have Georgia lose one of its remaining games against Ole Miss or Auburn to clinch the East.

Key matchup

Florida’s offensive line vs. Missouri’s defensive front. The Gators got whipped in the trenches in a 17-9 loss to Georgia last week, giving up five sacks and managing a season-low 81 yards rushing. The line has to play better, and the Tigers are no easy matchup. Missouri has 19 sacks, most of them by a D-line that features Sheldon Richardson, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Brad Madison.

Players to watch

Missouri: QB James Franklin, who has missed time this season because of shoulder and knee injuries, came off the bench last week to help the Tigers beat Kentucky. Coach Gary Pinkel says Franklin will start against the Gators, but his mobility could be tested against Florida’s defensive speed.

Florida: RB Mike Gillislee is averaging just 60 yards on the ground the last three weeks. The Gators need to get him going to spark a lackluster offense.

Facts & Figures

The only meeting between the teams came in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. The Tigers led 20-0 before the Gators charged back in the fourth quarter. Steve Spurrier threw two TD passes and ran for a score in an 11-minute span. Florida probably would have won had coach Ray Graves called for extra points after those TDs. Instead, Florida failed to make all three 2-point conversions, and Missouri won 20-18. … Missouri is making its third road trip of the season and second to the Sunshine State. The Tigers beat UCF 21-16 in late September. Mizzou, which lost at South Carolina, finishes the SEC slate on the road against Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. … Florida is 4-0 at home this season and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in three SEC games at The Swamp.

Pinkel takes blame for Missouri’s latest SEC loss to South Carolina

By the Associated Press

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel knew there wasn’t anywhere else to place the blame for this Southeastern Conference loss.

“Our focus wasn’t good enough and that’s coaching so that was my fault,” said a distressed Pinkel after the Tigers’ 31-10 loss to No. 7 South Carolina on Saturday.

Missouri had hung tough two weeks back in its first SEC game with No. 5 Georgia. The Tigers even led 20-16 late in the third quarter before the Bulldogs pounced on three turnovers to take control in a 41-20 victory. But that game took place in Missouri and Pinkel’s club found the going – and the Gamecocks’ defense – much tougher in the first SEC road game.

Little went right for the Tigers (2-2, 0-2 SEC) on either side of the ball.

The fast-paced offense managed only seven first downs through three quarters and ended with a season-low 255 yards. The defense allowed South Carolina’s Connor Shaw to complete his final 20 passes and finish 20-of-21. Shaw threw for two touchdowns and Marcus Lattimore ran for a pair of scores for the Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0).

“I was very disappointed in how we played,” Pinkel said.

As upset as Pinkel was, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was elated with Shaw’s performance. “He was sensational,” the coach said.

Shaw had played less than two quarters the past two games, dealing with a hairline fracture in his right throwing shoulder. Spurrier, though, said early in the week his junior starter was fine and ready to go against Missouri.
South Carolina’s head ball coach knew what he was talking about.

“I just found a groove and stayed with it,” said Shaw, who improved 11-1 as a starter.

There were plenty of South Carolina fans who wanted Shaw on the sidelines longer after backup Dylan Thompson threw for 507 yards and five touchdowns in wins over East Carolina and UAB while Shaw sat.

Shaw, though, showed there’s no doubt he is in charge of South Carolina’s offense.

Shaw’s “our leader, he’s consistent. He stays in the pocket when he has to, he runs when he has to,” Lattimore said. “He’s a complete quarterback.”

And he was unstoppable against Missouri.

Shaw was on target after that early incompletion to Lattimore and showed no discomfort from the injury. His consecutive passes streak was tied for second in the SEC to Tennessee’s Tee Martin, who completed 23 in a row against the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium during the Vols’ national championship season.

Shaw also ran for 41 yards.

Lattimore rushed for 85 yards. His touchdowns gave him South Carolina’s career mark with 33 rushing scores, a record Lattimore shared with Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and Harold Green. Last week, Lattimore set the school’s all-time total touchdown mark, also surpassing Rogers and Green.

Missouri struggled against a Gamecocks defense that has given up three touchdowns all year and hadn’t yielded a TD from 20 yards and in until the Tigers scoring pass at the end. Missouri had a season-low 255 yards.
Starting quarterback James Franklin was back after missing last week’s win over Arizona State because of a shoulder problem. He was held to 92 yards passing and was sacked three times.

“I don’t even know how many times we gave ourselves a chance to make plays,” Missouri receiver T.J. Moe said. “We were dropping balls all over the place and not making plays. We were so bad offensively, we didn’t put ourselves in position to make plays. That’s hard to do.”

The Gamecocks’ defense didn’t miss senior safety D.J. Swearinger, suspended by the SEC for his hit on UAB’s Patrick Hearn last week. Missouri had just 151 yards through three quarters.

The Tigers finally crossed the goal line on Corbin Berkstresser’s 1-yard pass to Marcus Lucas with 17 seconds left.
Ace Sanders’ 49-yard punt return to the Missouri 4 set up Lattimore’s first rushing TD from 2 yards out.

Missouri’s Russell Hansbrough fumbled on the team’s following possession and South Carolina took over at the Tigers 37.

Shaw threw to Nick Jones for 36 yards to the Missouri 1 and Lattimore followed with another touchdown.

Missouri put together its offense near the end of the half, driving 76 yards to the South Carolina 4. That’s when the Gamecocks’ defense – third in the SEC and the country last year – kicked in. Chaz Sutton stuffed Franklin for a 3-yard loss on 1st-and-goal, and Franklin overthrew Dorial Green-Beckham at the back of the end zone two plays later.

The Tigers settled for Andrew Baggett’s 22-yard field goal with 1:20 left.

South Carolina, though, wasn’t finished. Bruce Ellington went 50 yards on the Gamecocks first kickoff return of the season and five plays later, Shaw connected with Sanders for a 23-yard touchdown with 24 seconds to go that put South Carolina ahead 21-3.

The fans at sold-out Williams-Brice broke out the “S-E-C” chant as Missouri defenders jogged off the field.

Connor Shaw leads South Carolina victory over Missouri

By Joe Vozzelli

South Carolina’s quarterback situation was in doubt this week.

After the Gamecocks’ 31-10 victory over Missouri, Connor Shaw made it known that he’s South Carolina’s starting quarterback. The junior quarterback completed 20 of 21 passes, including 20 in a row, for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Shaw also ran for 41 yards.

During the week, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier answered questions about backup Dylan Thompson’s play at quarterback and whether or not he should start over Shaw.

Shaw injured his right shoulder blade in the Gamecocks’ opener against Vanderbilt. Thompson played in place of the injured Shaw and threw for 507 yards and five touchdowns in two games as Shaw’s replacement.

“There’s no sports writer, I don’t think, in the country who had Dylan Thompson coming in and maybe beating [Shaw] out or anything like that,” he said during Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference Teleconference. “Of course, Dylan has a few touchdown passes and plays well, and that starts the writers scrambling around and trying to create some crap. We understand all of that. That’s part of the game as coaches, to understand that.”

While South Carolina’s quarterback situation appears settled, Missouri’s quarterback situation is becoming more and more unsettled. Starter James Franklin was 11-for-18 for 92 yards, as Missouri had no offensive touchdowns with him in the game. Backup Corbin Berkstresser recorded Missouri’s lone touchdown of the game, a 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marcus Lucas.

Franklin didn’t show any ill signs from an inflamed bursa sac in his right throwing shoulder, which forced him to miss Missouri’s game against Arizona State. However, the offense’s lack of production will put him and head coach Gary Pinkel on the hot seat this week.

Missouri (2-2, 0-2 SEC) will face Central Florida (2-1) in Orlando, Fla. at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Missouri, No. 7 South Carolina facing QB issues

By the Associated Press

The quarterback questions linger for No. 7 South Carolina and Missouri, even though both teams expect their starting passers to be on the field Saturday.

Coach Steve Spurrier said Connor Shaw was OK to start for the Gamecocks (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), despite playing less than two quarters in two weeks because of a shoulder injury. Missouri quarterback James Franklin sat last week with inflammation in his shoulder, yet says he’s 90 percent ready to go in the first-ever SEC road game for the Tigers (2-1, 0-1).

“On a scale of one to 10, I’m a nine” Franklin said this week about his health.

How long Shaw and Franklin last is anyone’s guess.

Shaw was hurt against Vanderbilt in the Gamecocks season opener and was out in the win against East Carolina. He returned against University of Alabama-Birmingham last week, but was out again after getting hit hard right before halftime. Shaw winced in pain and revealed after South Carolina’s 49-6 victory he had a hairline fracture in his right throwing shoulder.

Anyone who watched figured Shaw would surely miss more than just the second half, but Spurrier ended the speculation – and quashed any debate over who should start after Dylan Thompson’s strong play in relief of Shaw – early in the week by picking his junior to open against Missouri.

“Connor’s fine,” Spurrier said. “I think he could have played the second half the other night. He just had some quick pain right there.”

Shaw was not cleared by Spurrier to speak to the media this week.

The Gamecock offense hasn’t slowed down the past two weeks, largely because of Thompson, who’s thrown for 507 yards and five touchdowns. While Shaw, 10-1 as a starter the past two seasons, wins games in part because of his running ability, Thompson’s more the gun-slinger who rears back and lets it go.

“There’s no sports writer, I don’t think, in the country who had Dylan Thompson coming in and maybe beating [Shaw] out or anything like that,” Spurrier said during Wednesday’s news conference. “Of course, Dylan has a few touchdown passes and plays well, and that starts the writers scrambling around and trying to create some crap. We understand all of that. That’s part of the game as coaches, to understand that.”

Four of Thompson’s five touchdown throws were for 29 yards or longer, including last week’s 94-yard scoring throw to Damiere Byrd.

It’s no secret Spurrier loves throwing downfield. Still, the coach knows playing Shaw means grounding the offense and that’s what’s best for the Gamecocks to win in the SEC. Thompson has posted big numbers against nonconference opponents, East Carolina and UAB.

“There’s no question that running the ball is what Connor does, which makes him a good quarterback,” Spurrier said. “So if he plays, he’ll run it some. If he can’t run, I don’t think he’s quite as effective. We believe he’ll be able to run some.”

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thinks Franklin will be effective, too, in his first game in two weeks.
Franklin chose not to take a pain-killer and play with his injury in Missouri’s 24-20 victory over Arizona State, a decision Pinkel and Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Yost understood and accepted.

“If I was out there, I probably couldn’t have made some of the throws I usually could,” Franklin said. “I could have easily thrown an interception or an incompletion or something like that. And also, I could have possibly made it worse” for this week’s game.

Instead, backup Corbin Berkstresser threw for 198 yards and rushed for a touchdown in the Tigers’ win. Pinkel was happy with Berkstresser’s first start, but is also ready to have Franklin, in his second season as a starter, back under center.

“Franklin will play if he can play, so we’ll see how the week goes practice-wise until game time and we’ll see where we’re at from there,” Pinkel said. “Hopefully, he’ll be ready to play.”

Spurrier was also asked about Franklin’s choice not to get a cortisone shot before last Saturday’s game.

“We had a player who did not want to take an IV at halftime and was cramping up,” Spurrier said during Wednesday’s SEC news conference. “It’s just a personal decision.”

Something Missouri’s quarterback won’t have to worry about is Gamecocks defensive playmaker D.J. Swearinger. The senior safety was suspended by the SEC for a helmet-to-helmet hit on UAB’s Patrick Hearn the league called targeting a defenseless player.

Swearinger will be replaced by freshman T.J. Gurley, who Spurrier said has shown ability in his first season.
Swearinger and Gurley spent the summer working out and breaking down film.  “Be ready because you might play,” Gurley recalled his older teammate telling him after the suspension was announced.

For Missouri, it’s the second chance to make an SEC mark – and the second straight time it’s trying to do it against a top-10 opponent.

The Tigers fell to then seventh-ranked Georgia, 41-20, two weeks ago. There’d been talk Missouri’s latest SEC game would be tagged the “Battle of Columbia,” since both campuses are located in that city. It didn’t happen, despite the approval of Spurrier.

“I know Columbia, Mo., is a great place to live,” said Missouri’s Pinkel, “and I’m told Columbia, S.C., is a great place also. Coach Spurrier must have more time on his hands than I do.”

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.