He’s back! Return of E.J. Gaines sparks Mizzou defense

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s defense got a big boost on
Saturday night with the return of senior cornerback and defensive
leader. Gaines, who was out with a quad injury, said he thought he might
be ready to go a week earlier but didn’t feel
right.

“Anybody that knows me knows I’m a competitor,
so it was definitely tough,” Gaines said of watching the Florida and
South Carolina games from the sidelines. “But just being out there
leading and helping my guys, I think I did pretty
well.”

Gaines’ impact in the Tigers’ 31-3 win against
Tennessee was noticeable. His interception midway through the second
quarter, on a play where defensive end Kony Ealy pressured Vols
quarterback Joshua Dobbs, extended Mizzou’s NCAA record streak of
consecutive games with a takeaway to 39.

“We were
just sitting in a zone and I honestly don’t think the quarterback saw
me,” Gaines said. “I was just dropping back and he kind of threw me some
candy — a welcome back present is what I called
it.”

The Tigers had just taken a 10-0 lead on a field
goal when Gaines snagged the interception. On the next play, Maty Mauk
connected with L’Damian Washington for a 26-yard touchdown pass to make
it 17-0.

Gaines was credited with six tackles,
including one for loss, to go along with one interception and one pass
break-up. He leads Mizzou with four interceptions despite missing two
games.

“I played pretty well today and I got out
there and I felt good,” he said.

TIGERS MOVE
UP IN RANKINGS

Missouri moved up one spot
to No. 8 in the latest BCS standings, which were released on
Sunday.

The Tigers (8-1) were bumped up because
Miami, which was ranked seventh a week earlier, suffered its first loss
of the season against Florida State. Everyone ranked ahead of the Tigers
won over the weekend.

Mizzou is fifth in the
computer rankings —  the Tigers were eighth a week earlier —
and moved up one spot to No. 8 in the Harris Poll and climbed one spot
to No. 9 in both the Associated Press rankings and USA Today Coaches
Poll.

COMPARING
QUARTERBACKS

How do quarterbacks James
Franklin and Maty Mauk compare from a statistical
perspective?

Franklin, the senior quarterback from
Texas, has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,577 yards, with 14
touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also rushed for 290 yards
and three touchdowns.

Mauk, the redshirt freshman
from Ohio, has completed 48.9 percent of his passes for 748 yards, with
five touchdowns and two interceptions. He has rushed for 136 yards and
one touchdown.

In his six starts, Franklin has
accounted for an average of 311.1 total yards (combined passing and
rushing) and 2.8 touchdowns (combined passing and
rushing).

In three starts, Mauk is averaging 282.7
total yards and 2 touchdowns.

BAGGETT MISSES
AGAIN

Kicker Andrew Baggett’s up and down
stretch continued on Saturday.

Baggett missed two
field goals in the Tigers’ 27-24 two-overtime loss to South Carolina a
week earlier, a 46-yard attempt in the fourth quarter and then the
24-yarder in the second overtime that hit the left
upright.

Against Tennessee, Baggett converted a
24-yard attempt in the second quarter but missed a 29-yarder at the end
of the quarter when the ball again cruelly flicked off the left upright.

Baggett, a redshirt sophomore from Lee’s Summit
(Mo.) North High School, has now made 13 of 19 field goal attempts and
converted 44 of 46 point-after kicks on the
season.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER
RETURNS

There were some concerns going into
the Tennessee game about the health of running backs Henry Josey
(concussion) and Russell Hansbrough (turf toe), but both were back in
action against the Vols.

Josey ran 16 times for 74
yards and helped the offense move the chains early while Mauk struggled.
Hansbrough added 61 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Marcus
Murphy also ran eight times for 44 yards.

That trio
has proved to be a consistent combination all season and a huge factor
in the Tigers’ 8-1 start. Their production has made life easier for Mauk
while Franklin has been out with his shoulder
injury.

Josey, Hansbrough and Murphy have combined
for 1,611 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on the ground. They have
carried the ball 250 times and are averaging 6.4 yards per
carry.

In 2012, when Mizzou went 5-7, the Tigers ran
for a total of 1,662 yards and registered 16 rushing touchdowns. Josey
missed the entire season after injuring his knee in 2011 and Kendial
Lawrence rushed for 1,025 yards and 12
scores.

HONORS FOR BRITT AND
MAUK

The Southeastern Conference office
announced on Monday morning that senior offensive tackle Justin Britt
has been named the league’s offensive line player of the week and Mauk
had been selected as the freshman player of the
week.

The Mizzou offense gained 502 yards against
Tennessee, including 339 on the ground, and Britt and his offensive line
mates did not allow a sack.

Mauk accounted for 277
yards of total offense, including 114 rushing, threw three touchdown
passes and did not commit a turnover.

TWEET
OF THE WEEK

Missouri wide receiver Marcus
Lucas:

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