UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI

MU-Tennessee game report

Updated: 2013-11-03T18:28:55Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

First quarter

Key play: Just when it looked like Missouri might have to settle for a field goal, on a drive that saw L’Damian Washington drop a touchdown and quarterback Maty Mauk throw a backhanded pass after stepping over the line of scrimmage, Dorial Green-Beckham outran the Tennessee defense across the length of the field for a 9-yard touchdown the quarter’s only score.

Key stat: Missouri went four of six on third down in the quarter, which was an encouraging sign for an offense that stagnated late in last week’s loss to South Carolina. The Tigers’ success seemed to coincide with a commitment to the run after two fruitless drives to start the game.

Second quarter

Key play: One play after Andrew Baggett’s field goal bumped Missouri’s lead to 10-0, junior defensive end Kony Ealy chased down Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs and pressured him into a poor throw along the sideline. Senior cornerback E.J. Gaines picked off the pass, setting up the Tigers’ second touchdown.

Key stat: At halftime, Missouri had gained 197 yards on 28 carries, including eight runs for 85 yards by redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk. By contrast, Tennesse had gained 181 total yards. The Tigers rushed for 136 yards on 15 carries in the second quarter alone.

Third quarter

Key play: Missouri continued to pound away at Tennessee’s beleaguered defense, which finally broke midway through the quarter. Sophomore running back Russell Hansbrough sprinted through the line of scrimmage and into wide-open space for a 26-yard touchdown and a 31-3 lead.

Key stat: Offensively, Missouri ran for 82 yards on 14 carries, a more than modest 5.9 yards per carry. But the defense rushing stat line was even more impressive. Tennessee had three third-quarter carries for minus-7 yards as it became one dimensional and continued to flouder.

Fourth quarter

Key play: On Tennessee’s only red-zone posssession for the entire game, Missouri’s defense forced a turnover on downs. Reserve linebacker Darvin Ruise chased Volunteers freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs out of bounds on fourth-and-6 at the Tigers’ 13 to thwart Tennessee’s best second-half scoring threat.

Key stat: Tennessee’s third-down struggles continued as the Volunteers went zero for three in the quarter. For the game, Tennessee went two for 13 on third down and zero for two on fourth down.

Player of the game: One week after struggling during a double-overtime loss to South Carolina, redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk rebounded with a strong performance. He completed 12 of 25 passes for 163 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Mauk was just as lethal with his legs, racking up 114 yards on 13 carries.

Reason to hope: Missouri ran for considerably more yards against Tennessee than either Oregon or Alabama, who were the top two teams in the BCS standings entering Saturday. The Tigers racked up 339 yards on 54 carries compared to the Ducks’ 41 carries for 216 yards and the Crimson Tide’s 37 carries for 204 yards.

Reason to mope: Well, Andrew Baggett hit the upright again and Missouri only scored seven points in the second half, but there’s no reason to mope for Tigers fans. Coach Gary Pinkel’s squad crushed a Tennessee team that took Georgia to overtime and beat South Carolina. It was as complete and dominant victory.

Looking ahead: Missouri will be a heavy favorite going to Kentucky, 2-6 and 0-4 in the SEC. No game is a gimme and it is a road contest, but this is as close to a gimme as it gets in the Southeastern Conference. The big question for the week is quarterback James Franklin’s status. Will he return before the bye?

Report card

A: Offense

Missouri did a much better job establishing the run after the first couple series. Tennessee, which has struggled against running quarterbacks all season, had no answer for Maty Mauk’s scrambling ability. Meanwhile, the Tigers, who racked up 502 total yards, burned a Vols pass defense prone to dozing off in coverage for several big plays. A: Defense

Tennessee had some success running the football and also hit several big plays in the passing game, but Missouri’s opportunistic defense forced three turnovers and only allowed 334 total yards. The Vols rushed for 94 yards on 24 carries in the loss. B-: Special teams

Junior Christian Brinser dropped the snap on his first punt, but managed to get that kick away and had a solid game. Still, it was a blunder. Kicker Andrew Baggett also drilled the left upright with a field goal try for the second straight week. A: Coaching

Missouri didn’t go into a shell with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk starting for a third straight game as it seemed to late against South Carolina. Offensive coordinator Josh Henson seemed to adjust the playcalling as needed when Mauk struggled early and got the offense going.

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