Missouri offense reaches low point in UConn win
Well, that was ugly.
Missouri hung on for a 9-6 home win against Connecticut after intercepting a fake field goal throw on the Huskies last drive.
The Tigers defense was fine. The offense was … way less than fine. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has some work to do.
There’s reason for a quarterback controversy: Missouri starting QB Maty Mauk (14-of-22, 145 passing yards one interception) was booed by Tigers fans, who also applauded freshman Drew Lock (6-of-9, 40 yards) before a fourth-quarter drive. Pinkel said he inserts Lock based on the feel of the game, but it feels like the freshman has made a case to play over the often-innacurate Mauk.
Backup rushers not good enough: Minus Mauk’s 13 yards of rushing contributions, Missouri running backs only gained 72 yards. Some Tigers fans will think Tyler Hunt (one rushing attempt) deserved more playing time, but this group as a whole isn’t ready to back up the injured Russell Hansbrough.
Charles Harris is on pace for a special season: The sophomore defensive end was once again disruptive, tallying a QB hit and two tackles for loss. He’s on pace for an absurd 34 TFLs this season.
Fatony’s performance dropped off: Missouri freshman punter Corey Fatony had averaged close to 50 yards per punt entering this contest. Fatony’s performance dropped off a bit, though, as he averaged just 39.2 yards per punt on six attempts.
Questions continue on offensive line: A large reason Missouri running backs couldn’t produce was the lack of holes created by the offensive line. The Tigers shuffled between Alec Abeln and Taylor Chappell at left guard, and the entire line’s performances indicates more shuffling could be needed.
Offense: F — Simply put, this was the baseline for how low the Tigers can go on offense.
Defense: A- — The Tigers held UConn to 95 yards of offense, but almost lost control of the game on the Huskies final drive.
Special Teams: B — A blocked PAT and the fake field goal interception may have been the biggest components in Missouri’s win, but Andrew Baggett missed an important field goal attempt and Fatony had some distance issues.
Coaching: C+ — Clock management almost cost the Tigers in the fourth quarter, but kudos to Gary Pinkel and his staff for playing Lock late and pulling out a win in a game with little offensive options.
Overall: C- — This team is going to go as far as its defense carries it.
As mentioned above, it’s tough to do much on offense when your biggest playmaker (Hansbrough) can’t play. But the Tigers could have done more to make it easier for Hansbrough’s backups, who clearly couldn’t run in-between the tackles. Starting RB Ish Witter, especially, would have benefitted from more pitches and options to the edges. You also need to question why Hunt, who caught a huge reception late in the game, only had one carry.
It seems like Pinkel and his staff are still experimenting with what kind of offense they’re going to run. That’s acceptable against opposition like SEMO, Arkansas State and Connecticut, so long as you pull out the W. But the Tigers begin SEC play next week, and the clock is running down on finding an offensive identity without (potentially) Hansbrough.
- LB Kentrell Brothers: He didn’t have as many tackles as his last two starts, but Brothers put in a solid day’s work with 10 tackles and neutralized UConn’s run game.
- S Anthony Sherrils: He sealed the game with an interception off a fake field goal attempt, while making three tackles and forcing a fumble.
- DT Josh Augusta: The junior increased his workload to offset possible injury fears to Terry Beckner, while disrupting the Huskies all day.
- RB Russell Hansbrough (ankle) did not play.
- C Evan Boehm limped off the field after a fourth and goal attempt, and wasn’t made available for interviews after the game.
- Four Missouri players were involved in a car crash Friday driven by DT Terry Beckner. WR Keyon Dilosa was also in the car and suited up for the Tigers, but WR DeSean Blair and RB Trevon Walters were withheld. Pinkel said there were no serious injuries that resulted from the car crash.