South Carolina vs. Missouri: Tigers Q&A With Truman’s Tales


With everything leading up to the rematch of South Carolina vs. Missouri (won last year in epic fashion by the Gamecocks), we were looking for some gameday answers from Missouri student Derek Franks who is the editor for the website Truman’s Tales.  Surprisingly, he does not seem to have the same fond memories of last year’s South Carolina-Missouri game as Gamecocks fans seem to have. There’s a lot of raw emotion for Missouri fans right now coming off a heart-breaking loss to underdog Indiana. The question is which Missouri team will South Carolina face this week…the one with all the hype and promise or the one who literally got run over by Indiana last week?

1) Soooo….how much of a letdown was last week anyway? Have people recovered?
Recovered? No, I don’t think so. You know, the toughest part for Mizzou fans isn’t the fact that the Tigers lost to a such a bottom-feeder Big Ten team. That’s just embarrassing. The toughest part is the potential that this thing had. Missouri was on the rise, a lot of people were calling them “the team to beat” in the SEC East. If we could have somehow survived South Carolina and Georgia, we’re talking about the very real possibility this team is undefeated and going to the SEC championship game again. You never want to jump ahead of yourself and say championship contention, but having a loss to Indiana–I don’t think the team recovers from that, regardless of how it fairs in conference play.

Sep 20, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk enters the stadium before the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2) What other quarterback would you compare Maty Mauk to? Do you think he’s going to be able to carry the offense considering the losses you’ve had?
What’s great about Maty is that he’s a natural leader. He’s confident, he’s great at being that on-field coach. I think he makes receivers better. That combined with the offensive line strength gives me faith that he’ll carry the offense.

It’s hard to compare Mauk to any singular player. But he reminds of me of NFL QBs like Tony Romo and Nick Foles and in a slightly less spectacular way, Drew Brees. He’s just a gunslinger, with the ability throw accurately in tight windows and throw receivers open. Short, quick passes is something we’ve been accustomed to at Mizzou in the past, so it’s great to see this kind of vertical passer. His pocket presence is what needs the most work, so he isn’t like Romo or Brees in that sense. But that’s more of something that develops with experience.

3) These two teams don’t have much of a history.  What do people there think about this new rivalry?  Do you think we’ll see many fans here in Columbia?

After last year, I believe the term “bitter” would be an understatement.
–Derek Franks on the Gamecocks’ win over Mizzou last year

After last year, I believe the term “bitter” would be an understatement. I think the first conference meeting between these two was kind of a non-event because Mizzou didn’t know what it was doing in its first season of the SEC. But last year’s thriller set the stage for a long rivalry. Tiger fans certainly get a sense that’s how it will be.

Mizzou typically travels well. I’m always impressed by how many fans we bring to the away games. But, last week’s game was such a downer– you never know if that will have an impact.

Sep 13, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel leaves the field after the game against the UCF Knights at Faurot Field. The Tigers won 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

4) What do the people of Missouri think of Coach Gary Pinkel?  He’s obviously been extremely successful there.  What about his style makes him so successful?
This is a two-sided answer. He certainly has done wonders for the MU football program. But he’s also been the most frustrating part about this team, recently. In the 13+ years he’s been here, Pinkel has brought life back into this program. And he’s won more games than any other coach in the school’s history. What makes him so successful is his ability to instil confidence in his team, his ability to motivate his players and get them to play to or excede their potential. He recruits well, and he puts talented players in place, even at young ages. He loves fast-paced, pedal to the medal, don’t let up style. And it’s difficult to defend and keep up with.

What has been a nagging concern as of late is his inability to manage a game. You saw it last season’s SC game when the team blew a 17-0 lead. I think the coaching staff had every bit as much to do, if not more to do, with the loss as the missed field goal did. Clock management kills Mizzou over and over again. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened this week.

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5) What kind of traditions does Missouri football and its fans have?

Boy, there are so many traditions it’s hard to go over them all. You probably know that our fans have our cheer M-I-Z-Z-O-U! We put our hands up high and shake them before every kick off. We yell “go Tigers” when the kicker strikes the ball. We cheer “hooray hoorah Mizzou Mizzou!” in our fight song. We wear gold to every home game except the last game, which is the blackout game. The Rock M that is in the north endzone of the stadium is repainted every year by the incoming freshmen. And our tailgates are as good as or better than any other SEC school in the league. Mizzou fans go hard. We have a great fandom and team spirit and our home games are as hostile as they come.

6) Who are the future stars for the Missouri Tigers?
They’ve got a bunch of young guys on this team that I like. And actually, with injuries (and also because they’ve impressed coaches) they are getting some playing time. I really like these young receivers, Nate Brown and Lawrence Lee. I think they are going to have a huge impact later down the line. Missouri also has a true freshman quarterback named Eddie Printz. He has big time “star” potential.

7) What do you remember the most from last year’s amazing game against South Carolina?
I don’t know if amazing is a term that I would use to describe it. Of course it was a thrilling game. One of the most exciting games of football I can remember. I remember the heartbreak that fans experienced after losing especially in the way that Mizzou lost and it being the homecoming game. When you are up 17-0, you better find a way to close that game. A lot of people will point to the missed Chipshot field goal in the second overtime. It was hard to watch and tough to swallow. But I don’t think that it was kicker Andrew Baggot’s fault. The laces were in on the hold first of all. And secondly, Mizzou had multiple chances to close out the game. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the kicker’s job to guard Ellington in the in zone in overtime either.

8) What do you think the keys are this week for Missouri to come away with a win?
You know, I do a three keys to victory every single Thursday. I invite your readers to come and check that out. But I will give you a preview.
1) Use the run to set up the pass so the Tigers can expose South Carolina’s vulnerable secondary
2) Maty Mauk has to shine
3) Control time of possession and slow things down
3a) limit boneheaded mistakes and penalties