What's On - Seems like a good time to re-watch Mizzou vs Texas A&M
Gary Pinkel and Mike Alden
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden and football Coach Gary Pinkel said Friday they knew about the 2008 rape allegation concerning former running back Derrick Washington shortly after the incident occurred and, to the best of their knowledge at the time, followed the proper chain of command. Alden and Pinkel met the media a day after ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" published a story uncovering the 2008 allegation against Washington, as well as an incident from May 2010 in which he allegedly punched a Missouri women’s soccer player during a fight involving her and his ex-girlfriend.
Growing up a Missouri fan in St. Louis, Markus Golden paid close attention to some of the Tigers’ biggest stars as he looked for examples of how to chart his football future. First, it was Brad Smith. Then, as Golden’s Affton High School career got going, it was players such as Jeremy Maclin and Sean Weatherspoon.
That list includes six first-team all-conference defensive linemen, including reigning Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year Michael Sam, and 10 NFL Draft picks, including three first-rounders since 2009. Since joining the Tigers in 2001, Kuligowski, 45, has established himself as one of the nation’s best defensive line coaches, but he demands players do things his way — on and off the field.
The ascent of Harris into that role has surprised even his coaches. He enrolled at Missouri weighing 210 pounds. Thirty-five pounds later, Harris is ready to contribute. "He looks like a guy that's been here for four years, just because he would stay out here for hours at a time after practice...," Kuligowski said. "Whenever they had extra time, (he would say) 'I'm gonna come over here and work out.' Instead of going out and socializing, he's here working."
"In the SEC, you deal with more NFL-type talent than in any other league, especially on the line," said Spears, whose nine-year NFL career ended after last season. "It’s not just LSU and Alabama and Florida. You see them at Ole Miss and Arkansas and everywhere else. There may not be as many at those schools, but they all have them."
End result: Missouri is past expecting to merely make a bowl game after reaching the SEC championship game and finishing fifth in the nation last season. The SEC East should be tougher, and a three-game gantlet — at South Carolina (Sept. 27), versus Georgia (Oct. 11) and at Florida (Oct. 18) — will determine whether the Tigers can muscle their way into the national-title picture again. The Tigers should be 4-0 after non-conference play. From there, the team’s health and a few bounces of the ball will determine how magical 2014 becomes.
During the 2013 season, the Tribune went back over game broadcasts to chart all of Missouri’s offensive and defensive snaps to get a better sense of substitution patterns and the prevalence and success of personnel groups used on both sides of the ball.
After leading Mizzou to three SEC wins in four starts last year, Maty Mauk takes over the starting job full-time. Mauk polished up his mechanics this offseason in hopes of lifting an alarmingly low 2013 completion percentage (51.1). He compensated some with a healthy yards-per-attempt average (8.1) and the fifth-best single-season passer rating (143.1) in team history. But Mauk’s time behind center last year had a boom or bust output
3. Missouri Top passer? Gone. Top Rusher? Gone. Top three receivers? Gone. All-SEC left tackle, defensive end and cornerback? Gone — all of them. But Gary Pinkel’s program has plenty in reserve and enough experienced veterans back to make another run at the division. The Tigers could go as far as Maty Mauk takes them in his first season as the full-time starter.
Maty was going in. Missouri’s redshirt freshman, Mike’s youngest of three sons, didn’t have any air in his helmet. His chinstrap wouldn’t stay buckled. His legs were stiff, his arm barely loose. But it was Mauk’s job to salvage the Tigers’ lead — and their unblemished record — with a snarling pack of Bulldogs across the line of scrimmage.
After a solid first scrimmage, Mauk and the first-team offense struggled to push the ball downfield in the last two outings. In three spring scrimmages, he completed 28 of 55 passes for 322 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That’s a completion percentage of 50.1 percent, down from his 2013 season average of 51.1, and a passer rating of 102.5. That’s well below his 2013 rating of 143.1. Facing the No. 2 defense, Mauk’s five possessions produced a turnover (for a defensive touchdown), a rushing touchdown, two field goals and a three-and-out.
Potential Breakout Stars Maty Mauk, Missouri Tigers 2013 in review: Mauk (68-133, 1,071 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs) came off the bench for an injured James Franklin and led Missouri to a big win at Georgia. He then went 3-1 as a starter (with wins against Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky and an overtime loss to South Carolina) before Franklin returned to the lineup. Mauk was an easy choice as the quarterback on the SEC All-Freshman team. What to watch: We know Mauk can chuck it, but who will catch those passes? Luckily, he has several weeks to figure out a solution. Mirroring last season's schedule that paved the way for an SEC East title run, the Tigers open the season with a paper-thin slate of four straight nonconference games (South Dakota State, Toledo, a Central Florida team that lost major firepower, and Indiana). By the time the Tigers visit South Carolina on Sept. 27, Mauk needs to have developed a strong rapport with the receiving corps. Otherwise, this might become a middling season at Mizzou. Projected 2014 grade: A-
And there he was Tuesday. Entering into the final week of camp at 235 pounds.
If the SEC is so overpowering, how did Texas A&M, a middling Big 12 team for many years, explode for 11 wins during its SEC debut season in 2012? Mizzou struggled the same year, going 5-7, but stunned the conference last year with 12 wins, including a division championship. The Tigers crushed SEC East bluebloods Georgia, Florida and Tennessee by a combined 62 points. In two SEC seasons, Texas A&M has already beaten every West Division foe except LSU. Likewise, Mizzou has taken down every East Division team except South Carolina.
Based on interviews throughout the three weeks of preseason camp and observations gleaned from three open scrimmages, here are five things we’ve learned.
We here at the blog went through the play-by-play we kept during Missouri's third and final scrimmage of the fall Thursday to come up with who did what on the first, second and third and fourth offenses. These are based solely from notes we took during the scrimmage and not any sort of official stat or snap breakdown from Missouri. We hope it can shed some light on who is producing with which personnel groups:
Basketball - Tramaine Isabell and Schedules
Another player who joined the school was Tramaine Isabell, a talented prospect who is now set to play at the University of Missouri.
Isabell said the experience at Lakeside was "crazy" because people like Ballmer were among his biggest supporters. He described becoming "close friends" with the billionaire, who would ask Isabell about how his schooling was going.
The academics were a challenge. Isabell’s GPA was always close to 2.0, or C, his mother said.
Brown described her son as "kind of like a guinea pig" for Lakeside as the school explored ways to be more diverse. "Tramaine wasn’t necessarily ready for Lakeside," Brown said. "I don’t know if Lakeside was necessarily ready for him."
Isabell also got help at home, thanks to Rich Padden, a wealthy lawyer who has been a major supporter of the nonprofit funded by Ballmer, has been involved closely with Lakeside athletics, and had a son on the Lakeside team.
No action has been taken against Isabell at this time. He enrolled at Missouri this summer, which wouldn’t have occurred if the NCAA hadn’t approved his academic transcript. But the report could lead to further examination of Isabell’s eligibility.
"We’re aware of the Seattle Times story from last weekend, and we’ll monitor that story appropriately," MU spokesman Dave Reiter said. "But Tramaine’s looking forward to getting on campus and getting to class starting next week and working with his teammates."
Honorable Mention: Missouri sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III averaged a modest 5.8 points and often struggled to get shots off inside, but with Missouri replacing its starting backcourt, he should get more shots this season. He’s a hard worker and strong rebounder who the Tigers need to have a breakout season
Baseball - Max Scherzer
Scherzer is a one-fastball man, and though I believe the lack of variety limits him (read the "Style" section for more), you have to tip your cap to the pitch itself. He can throw it on all counts, as a setup, catch-up, or strikeout pitch, and the .244 opponent average puts him safely in the top half of MLB pitchers. He keeps the four-seam belt-high, and the strong tailing action means it often ends up on the right corner. He’s lost a little velocity over the past three years, but it doesn’t amount to much … at least not yet. And that he maintains the league’s second-highest strikeout rate despite throwing one pitch more than half the time tells you how good that dominant pitch can be.
On the other hand, the past year or so has seen the weekly celebration of our more irrational side devolve into something wholly different from its original intent and spirit. It's gotten downright ugly, unfunny, and legitimately hateful. It began to spill into other comments threads, and even on to other SB Nation communities. It truly began to make us look bad, and became a bit of a source of embarrassment for myself and my fellow RCR administrators.
With that all in mind, it seemed perfect timing to publish the first edition of 2014's version of "TiK's Ten." I enjoyed writing these columns last year, and with the favorable reviews from last season, I decided to bring it back this year. Much like last year, my plan will be to offer five thoughts on Mizzou's season and five on college football as a whole.