Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk made the best of what is very likely his last start in replacement of QB No. 1 James Franklin – becoming the first quarterback not named Chase Daniel to throw five TD passes, and four of them were to Dorial Green-Beckham, who also set a school record for receiving TD’s in a game, as Missouri shook off a slow start (again) to roll Kentucky 48-17, sending them to their 13th straight SEC loss.
“Well it was a good win obviously for us,” head coach Gary Pinkel said. “I thought we did a lot of good things. Like any game, what we’ll do is we’ll evaluate the good things we did and the things we need improvement on. I’m glad we got the bye week this week because it is much needed for our team, mentally and emotionally I think. But anyway, there are a lot of good things and things that I was very proud of our team so it’s a good situation to be in right now.”
A Mauk-led offense produced two empty drives to start the game for the third straight game and Missouri faced a 3-0 deficit after Kentucky quickly went down the field and got inside the 10, but Missouri held for a field goal on their first possession of the game. The Missouri defense held after the second, and got prime field possession after a shanked 13-yard Landon Foster shanked punt. Missouri then scored 28 unanswered to take a 28-3 lead into the locker room and the game was more or less over.
“The short field on the kick, we’ve done that before, that’s not a whole lot of fun,” Pinkel said.
Twice in the second half, Kentucky cut it to 18 as they used two LONG drives to start the half, but Missouri answered both times and a Henry Josey 86-yard run with 10 minutes remaining in the game put Missouri up 48-17.
DGB’s first score – finally a successful goalline fade – from eight yards out, capped off a quick, 3-play, 42-yard drive after the shanked punt. Marcus Murphy – who fumbled a kickoff after Kentucky’s field goal, where the Mizzou defense came up huge and forced a punt – ran twice for 32 yards to get the Tigers (9-1, 5-1 SEC) inside the 10.
“I thought it was interesting too though when we fumbled the football in the first half our defense went right out, took a stand, got the ball right back to us and that’s what good teams do,” Pinkel said.
Missouri totally grabbed the momentum for the rest of the half when reserve wide receiver Levi Copelin blocked Foster’s next punt, setting Missouri up at the 4, where Josey scored the first of his three total TD’s, on the first play to make it 14-3.
“That’s a great play by our punt block team and that’s just a great play by Levi,” Pinkel said. “We thought that we had a chance to get in there when they spread out and coach (Craig) Kul (-igowski) wanted to do it. I’m always a little hesitant, but it w as a great call. It was a MAMMOTH play. Those punt blocks are huge momentum plays.”
Another Mauk-to-DGB goalline fade from seven yards out made it 21-3 and a LONG drive ended with a swing pass to Josey, who dove for the pylon to make it 28-3 with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining in the half in what was a very methodical drive by Mauk & Company.
Up 28-10, DGB got the hat trick with a remarkable 22-yard TD catch down the sideline when he leaped over a defender. Kentucky answered with running back Raymond Sanders 1-yard plunge to make it 35-17. Redshirt freshman John Gibson III about broke one on the kick return in replace of Murphy, bringing it back to the 32. On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing a fourth and two from the 6, Mauk hit DGB again, this time on a crossing route with the safety playing the run and the corner expecting the fade. MAMMOTH. Oh, and Baggett missed the XP.
Also, James Franklin got some reps late in the game – handing the ball off five times to mop-up duty RB’s Morgan Steward and Greg White behind the second team offensive line. I hoped that he would play at least a little bit to shake off the rust.
I wish Franklin would have thrown a pass or two, but that is not Pinkel’s M.O. Franklin COULD have thrown the ball, we found out after the game, but it was not needed.
“We would have been very limited in what we would call, but we would play with him,” Pinkel said. “It was the ideal thing to do to simply get him some repetitions without getting hit.”
“I just wanted to knock a little rust off,” OC Josh Henson said. “Give him a chance to get back in there and just operate the offense. I think it just gives you a comfort level if you get in there and run a few plays.”
Mauk (17-29, 203 yards; 2-24 rushing) played great, taking what was there, starting the game 6-for-9. He threw just eight second half passes as Missouri milked it in the fourth quarter, but, this was by far his most complete game. He got rid of the ball quick and took what was there instead of trying to hit the HR all of the time. He showed great escapability to keep plays alive with his feet, and you know, its hard to find anything bad to say when you throw for 5 TD’s. By my count, he threw only one ball that he should not have and he completed more than 50% of his passes (60.1%) for the first time as a starter and avoided a turnover for consecutive weeks. Mauk gained valuable experience in four games as a starter, going 3-1, but Franklin, who was medically cleared in an “emergency basis only” deserves the right to start when he returns, which according to Pinkel will be ready to start at Ole Miss Nov. 23 following the bye week, “without a doubt.” Mauk made great strides after struggling (10-25) in the one loss this year to South Carolina. As my dad said, “its called learning.” Mauk clearly did that. But, it is Franklin’s team when he returns. He clearly was playing the best ball of his career before the injury. Now, will the injury change that? I don’t know. But, we do know that unlike last year, another QB on the roster besides Franklin can go out and win a game. And, if Franklin comes out in Oxford and struggles to shake off the rust, Mauk can certainly come back in.
It is a great problem to have when a backup quarterback plays really good considering, and there is nowhere close to a QB controversy.
“We’re fortunate to get [Franklin] back, and we’re also fortunate to have a back-up quarterback that can play like Maty Mauk’s playing. He’s got a long way before he’s doing all the things right, but obviously he can make some plays.”
In his four games as starter, Mauk completed 57 of 116 passes for 910 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating in those games was 140.03.
Josey scored his first receiving TD of the year and now has 10 rushing TD this season – leading the Tigers and topped 100 yards for the fourth time this year, with huge help from his 86-yard run. The RB trio of Josey-Murphy-Russel Hansbrough combined for 179 yards on 21 carries (8.5 yards per carry). Murphy did not see one snap following his second fumble (which didn’t really count) and had just the 2 carries for 32 yards. Morgan Steward (2-17) did lose a fumble late, but it was meaningless. Other than Josey’s 86-yard romp, the Tigers had 137 yards on 29 carries otherwise for a 4.72 average.
DGB. DGB. DGB.
Four F-ing TD’s. What else is there to say?
Well, here is what Pinkel had to say: “Well there is a physical mismatch with almost anybody he plays against. We’re just fortunate he’s on my team. A guy like that can make plays, you coach them only to a certain point, you can throw it up and he made a couple really great catches. He did a lot of good things.”
DGB (7-100-4) went over 100 yards for the second time this year and more than made up for the loss of L’Damian Washington (who left the game with some sort of a toe injury), who had went catchless. DGB also was given opportunities to make plays after the catch and bowled over defenders for a 12-yard gain in the third quarter to convert a third down.
Missouri struggled to run to the right side early on and had just 40 yards rushing on 10 carries entering the final drive of the first half, but ran for 52 yards on the drive and ended with 202 yards on just 28 runs (7.2 YPC). Mauk faced little pressure and was not sacked for the second time in his four starts. No flags, and Justin Britt was dominant at left tackle. Again, little complaints for this group.
After its 8-play, 61-yard scoring drive on its opening possession, Kentucky gained 31 yards on its next 29 plays as the Missouri defense locked down during the 28-0 run to end the half. Until Kentucky scored on the first drive of the second half, Missouri had allowed just three TD in 53 possessions dating back to Franklin leaving the game at Georgia.
Oh, and the streak lives! Darvin Ruise fell on a fumble with Missouri up 28-10 after a 50-yard pass as Andrew Wilson punched it out to extend the already NCAA record consecutive games with a forced turnover streak to 40 games. It was also a huge momentum play as UK had just scored and forced a Missouri punt and had a chance to pull within 11.
SEC sack leader Michael Sam did not record one sack, but it’s OK, the defensive line continued to dominate anyway, recording five of the team’s six sacks.
Whether it’s first string or second string, it doesn’t matter. Everybody’s just getting in there, going hard and making the way for other guys,” junior defensive end Kony Ealy said. “We played together as a D-line.”
With all the focus on Sam, Ealy earned three sacks – the fourth time Missouri had a three-sack game this year (Sam the other 3). Fellow defensive ends “I just make plays” Markus Golden and Shane Ray. It was Ray’s fifth straight game with a sack. Even starting tackles Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent had sacks.
Linebacker Donavon Bonner registered a sack another well-timed Steckel blitz and Andrew Wilson forced a fumble after a 40-yard pass play, recovered by fellow LB Darvin Ruise. Two plays later, DGB caught his third TD pass of the game and it was 35-10.
In the secondary, in the first quarter, safety Ian Simon, the Tigers’ main nickelback, went down early in the game with an ankle injury. Junior college transfer Duron Singleton stepped in and played the rest of the game in Simon’s place and responded with the best game of his season, finishing with seven tackles, two for loss. He had just 10 tackles all season.
The secondary and linebackers share the blame in continued struggles against the screen and down the field between the seams.
A mixed bag from this group. Baggett missed another XP (his second of the year) and no kick is safe with him. Punter Christian Brisner boomed a HUGE 61-yard punt. Murphy had a good kick return, but fumbled fighting for extra yards and appeared to lose his jobs after his penalty-nullified fumble near the end of the first half and his replacement on kick returns, John Gibson III, had a solid return.
Henson and Pinkel got Franklin into the game and the staff decided call a punt block and Pinkel successfully went for it on fourth and two inside the 10, as he should have been doing all year taking the game out of Baggett’s leg.
- Missouri won the toss and took the ball first for the ninth time in 10 games. They won all nine games they won the toss. Franklin led Missouri to scores on the opening drive four times in six games; Mauk once in four games.
- Missouri’s first two scoring drives spanned 46 yards and lasted 55 seconds in just four plays.
- Marcus Murphy left the game near the end of the second half after he appeared to fumble again, this time a punt, with some sort of an injury. It was a huge moment in the game as the fumble did not count because of an illegal formation. Kentucky re-punted and Missouri drove the field to go up 28-3.
- Chase Daniel threw five TD’s in a game four times.
- Missouri was outgained 204-60 in the third quarter.
- DGB now has nine TD this season, tied for 10th in nation with Washington.
- Prior to Josey’s 86-yard TD run, he was averaging just 2.7 yards per carry (10-27); after 10.3 (11-113).
- Missouri is on pace for 44 sacks.
- Texas A&M is the only team in SEC who has scored more points than Missouri.