Scouting The Opponent: Missouri

In our weekly Scouting the Opponent feature, get a primer on Indiana’s opponent before the game. The Missouri Tigers are defending SEC East Divisional champions and have the best defense Indiana has seen to date.

Missouri Tigers

Record: 3-0

Key Players:

QB – No. 7 Maty Mauk, 6-0, 200 lbs., r-So., Kenton, Ohio, 48 completions on 77 attempts, 647 yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions, 23 rushing attempts, 83 yards, 1 touchdown

Mauk has impressed in the first three games of the season with no sign of slowing down. In week two, Mauk tied the Missouri school record for passing touchdowns in a single game when he threw five in a 49-24 victory against Toledo. Mauk also ran for a touchdown in the game, earning a career-best six total touchdowns. He followed that up with four touchdowns in a 38-10 rout of Central Florida last week.

WR – No. 21 Bud Sasser, 6-2, 210 lbs., Sr., Denton, Texas, 12 receptions, 215 yards, 4 touchdowns

Sasser can do it all. Against Toledo, Sasser caught five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. He also was responsible for a Marcus Murphy touchdown when Sasser made a big downfield block to finish off the play. He also forced a fumble when he stripped a Toledo defender after an interception. And, don’t forget, he played a big role in bringing Missouri to the SEC conference championship game after throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass against Georgia last season. He is a playmaker no matter what situation he is put in.

DE – No. 33 Markus Golden, 6-3, 260 lbs., Sr., St. Louis, Mo., 21 total tackles, 11 solo, 4 sacks

Golden is one of the top defensive ends in the country, and Mel Kiper Jr. even has him ranked as the No. 2 senior end in the 2015 NFL Draft. Statistically, Golden has been incredible this season, as he is tied for second on the team in total tackles as a lineman. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though, as Golden led Missouri ends in tackles last season with 55, despite the fact he only played 40 percent of the defensive snaps, as he was stuck behind NFL talents Kony Ealy and Michael Sam.

DE – No. 56 Shane Ray, 6-3, 245 lbs., r-Jr., Kansas City, Mo., 16 total tackles, 13 solo, 5 sacks

Ray lines up on the opposite side of Golden, and is just as good, if not better. Ray leads the Tigers in sacks and solo tackles on the season. He uses his incredible speed for his size to get around tackles and get to the quarterback. As the fourth option at end in 2013, he was still second on the team with 11 QB hurries. He is also featured in Kiper’s top defensive ends, tying at fifth among underclassmen.

CB – No. 11 Aarion Penton, 5-10, 185 lbs., So., St. Louis, Mo., 14 total tackles, 7 solo, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups

Penton is the top cornerback for the Tigers, and he will likely be on Shane Wynn all game. He is a threat to grab an interception on any given play, as he already has two on the season. Last year as a true freshman he filled in for injured E.J. Gaines against Florida, where his abilities were on full display when he grabbed an interception in the first quarter. He recorded an interception in each of his first games this season, and against Toledo he showed his running ability as well, returning the interception 38 yards.

Key Win

In what many thought could be a trap game for a Missouri team that lost a lot of talent to the NFL, the Tigers went into Toledo week two and dominated with a 49-24 victory. Maty Mauk led the way as he threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns, while adding a sixth touchdown on the ground. Meanwhile, the only first half points for Toledo came on a broken play that went for 38 yards. Other than that, the defense handled the Rockets from start to finish.

Head Coach

Gary Pinkel has been the Missouri head coach since 2001 and has a record of 105-63 since arriving in Columbia. Since being at Missouri he has won three Big 12 North Division championships and one SEC East Division championship, which came last season in Missouri’s first year in the conference. His lone conference championship came while the head coach at Toledo in 1995, where he coached from 1991-2000. Pinkel is the winningest coach in the history of Missouri football.

Hoosier Connections

The lone Indiana player on the Missouri Tigers is true freshman linebacker Brandon Lee. Lee comes from Lawrence Central in Indianapolis, and he has yet to see the field this season.

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is very familiar with Pinkel and the Missouri program from his Oklahoma days, where Wilson served as offensive coordinator from 2002-2010 before taking the Indiana job. In Wilson’s last season in Oklahoma, Missouri had its first victory over the Sooners since 1998.

Team Stats

IU – Missouri

Points/Game: 35 - 41.7

Points Allowed/Game: 17.3

Total Offense Avg.: 574 - 405.7

Pass Yards Avg.: 227 - 215.7

Rushing Yards Avg.: 345 - 190

Total Defense Avg.: 370.5 - 358

Passing Defense Avg.: 267.5 - 234

Rushing Defense Avg.: 103 - 121

Last Meeting Between These Teams

Missouri 45, Indiana 28. Sept. 21, 2013, Bloomington

Last season’s match up was a good first half of football, until Missouri DE Kony Ealy jumped up and snagged a Nate Sudfeld pass and took it 49 yards for a touchdown. The score made it 28-14 going into the half, and Missouri took that momentum into the second half, never looking back.

Missouri’s defense was impressive last season against the Hoosiers, allowing only 98 rushing yards. Missouri also won the third down battle, as Indiana went 5-17 on third in the game. Indiana totaled 475 yards on the night, most of those coming through the air with 377 yards.

The Tiger offense was able to get things going a year ago, as they totaled 623 offensive yards and converted 33 first downs. They also dominated the time of possession. Missouri held the ball for 36:45 minutes of the game vs. Indiana’s 23:15.

Offensive Style

Missouri features a spread attack similar to Indiana. They are going to play three receivers, a tight end and a running back on most downs, although they aren’t afraid to show a four or five receiver look.

Missouri shows an overall balanced attack. Head coach Gary Pinkel has had a wide variety of quarterbacks in his days, from scrambler James Franklin to pocket passer Blaine Gabbert. Quarterback Maty Mauk definitely has the ability to make plays outside of the pocket, but he will look to pass first. The rush attack features two running backs, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, who both average 5.5 yards per carry.

What They’re Saying

Coach Kevin Wilson:

”Looking forward to what's going to be a great challenge for us, a very strong team, very solid program. Tremendous leader in Coach Pinkel, winningest coach, two schools. Lot of respect for him. And because of having competed against him, I know their coaches, because we've competed against them, recruited against them. He's got an outstanding staff, great coaches. A lot of guys have been with him forever, a lot of guys I know and think of the world as coaches and as guys. And they've got a great staff. They're solid in all three phases. “Their offense really good running game, two good running backs, quarterback, very athletic and active moving around, spread it out. Very productive in the pass game. I think they've got 12 touchdown passes and three picks. So really balanced offense. Really good line. Couple linemen I recruited years ago that are very good players for them. “Defensively, very aggressive up front. Two really good defensive ends. Two of the better players in the country. Defensively, playing about as good as most people in the country as far as turnovers they cause and the way they play and the way they play at "D" and what they do schematically with Coach Steckel and his guys. And then they put it together with good kicking, good returner, solid kickers. Good in all three phases. That's why they're 18th in the country. That's why they're 3-0. That's why they're defending East champions of the SEC. And we're going down to their place. We'll need and expect our best day, our best week each this week. But we expect that every day. And I expect our guys to bounce back and have great attitudes, great work, and it's going to be a great challenge and a great opportunity. And we'll look forward to having a good day, good week, progressing forward.’’

Offensive Coordinator Kevin Johns

”They’re two defensive ends are as good as we’re going to see. They offer Sunday, NFL-type players. Theire linebackers are very sound with what we do. Their secondary is always in the right position, and they play very physical. They replaced a couple of starters from a year ago at the cornerback position. Top to bottom I think they will be the best defense we’ve faced to date. It’ll be a big time challenge.”

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld

”I’m excited to be in that environment and that atmosphere. It’s going to be a great test for us and it’s an opponent we’re really excited to play. It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to prepare hard, but I’m ready for the challenge.

“If we win this week, everybody forgets last week, and we definitely believe we can win this week. Missouri’s going to be a tough test, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. We want to get our names out there we want to compete against the best and show what we can do.

“They’re defense is very athletic. Their defensive line is extremely talented, they have good solid all-around players. We’re going to have to bring our A game, but it’s not going to be gimmicky to try to get past them. We’re just going to have to attack them.”

Key Matchup

Saturday’s game will be won or loss at the line of scrimmage, plain and simple. The Indiana offensive line has its biggest challenge so far this season as they go up against one of the top defensive lines in the nation. Indiana has made running the ball look easy this season, but Missouri will be the true test. The Hoosiers will need to get Tevin Coleman going early in the first quarter and put points on the board. That starts up front, where Indiana has a highly experienced offensive line anchored by redshirt senior center Collin Rahrig. That will also be the case in the passing game, as Missouri feature two top pass rushers in Markus Golden and Shane Ray, who have combined for nine sacks in only three games this season.

Follow Ben Faunce on Twitter.com/ben_faunce


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