Reiss previews Missouri's clash with South Carolina
1. Let's get this out of the way first: What on earth happened last Saturday against Indiana?
A lot. The Missouri offensive line was pitiful — five false start penalties and lots of errant snaps by center Evan Boehm — and the Indiana running game was strong. It was shocking certainly, but the Hoosiers played up to their potential, and Mizzou didn't look ready. After the game, I chose to go to the IU locker room instead of Missouri's, and you could tell how confident the Hoosiers were. If I were to say the Tigers overlooked Indiana, it'd be total speculation, so I won't say that. But Missouri just looked sloppy. Lots of penalty, lots of mental miscues. And the Indiana offense was effective, perhaps in part because Mizzou star defensive end Markus Golden was out with a hamstring injury.
2. How impressed have you been by Maty Mauk so far in his first year as the unquestioned starter?
He's lived up to my expectations. I think that's what most people would say — good, not incredible. His completion percentage this year is up a little more than 10 percent from last year. That was something he said he was really working hard on. He can also run pretty well. He's had some nice scrambles out of the pocket that have ended up being touchdown passes.
3. Talk about the job Gary Pinkel has done turning Missouri into a winning program in the SEC now that the Tigers are in their third year in the conference.
It's been interesting. I think people discredited Missouri after its first year in the SEC, but those Tigers were injured all over the place. Last year, the team was relatively healthy — the same offensive line started every game — and it showed. Unlike a lot of SEC teams, Mizzou doesn't draw the top, five-star recruits. Pinkel said that isn't his M.O. It never really has been. And he's been pretty successful here doing things his way.
4. What adjustments do you see being made this week after last week's loss?
The offensive line, which, like I said, struggled against IU, has been tweaked. The old starting left guard, Anthony Gatti, tore his ACL in the first quarter of the Indiana game. He's out for the season, and his backup, Brad McNulty, is taking over for him. The starting right guard is now Connor McGovern, who was the starter at the position last season but was playing right tackle to begin this season. Taking McGovern's place is Taylor Chappell, who played right tackle with the starters some during training camp, when McGovern went down with an injury. Pinkel said at media availability that this was the combination he thought gave them the best chance for success right now, but he wasn't committing to it for the rest of the season. We'll see how it works.
5. Which Missouri player Gamecock fans may not have heard of is set to have a big game Saturday?
Wide receiver Bud Sasser. He's not a household name in the SEC because he didn't play a ton last year behind L'Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas, but he's been really good this season. He seemed to have separated himself during the Indiana game as Mauk's go-to receiver.
31-27 South Carolina.
I've gone back and forth on this decision because I think Missouri will bounce back following its disappointing loss to Indiana. But I think playing in its first game with an offensive line that is 40 percent new will be difficult. Even if South Carolina continues to tackle poorly, trying to win at Williams-Brice Stadium will likely prove too much for the Tigers. I think Mizzou comes out with a lot of energy early and grabs the lead, but South Carolina ultimately wins. Sound familiar?