Missouri and UK share similar traits: both offenses are struggling

Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith chases quarterback Maty Mauk down during the second half of the University of Kentucky vs. Missouri football game at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO., on Saturday, November 1, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Krueger

By Joshua Huff

He sits just below Patrick Towles in the SEC for passing statistics. Their stats are nearly identical. Towles is 45 for 87 for 575 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. The difference is that Towles has been sacked 10 times compared to just four for Mauk.

The good news for Missouri is that its star running back, Russell Hansbrough, should play on Saturday. He sat out during the Tigers 9-6 win against the Huskies with a sprained right ankle. However, after rushing for 1,084 yards in 2014, he’s rushed for just 38 yards on seven carries this season. As a result, Missouri has struggled on offense.

The Tigers are ranked 118th in the FBS in rushing offense and 121st in yards per carry.

Missouri was dealt another blow on Tuesday when wide receiver DeSean Blair was ruled out again after he sustained a concussion during a car accident on Friday. He was one of four Missouri players involved in the crash.

The redshirt freshman has just one reception for 21 yards on the year.

He is part of a Tigers receiving core that has no receivers in the SEC Top 20 in receiving yards. J’Mon Moore sits at No. 22 with just 11 receptions for 130 yards. In contrast, UK has three receivers in the Top 20.

The Tigers entered the season fighting for respect despite dominating the SEC East the past couple of years.

“It definitely makes us feel like we’re not respected in the SEC,” cornerback Kenya Dennis said to ESPN during SEC’s Media Day. “We’re going to try and keep winning.”

And for Missouri, winning is in its blood. The Tigers have won 27 of their past 32 games and have been to a bowl game in 10 or their past 12 seasons. That hasn’t escaped UK head coach Mark Stoops.

“They’ve always played hard,” Stoops said. “And they win close games and that’s a credit to what they’re doing and how they’re coaching them. The energy that their team plays with is good.”

For fans who disliked the gritty, defensive performance against Florida. This Saturday looks to be much of the same. Both offenses are struggling to throw the ball and will look to protect its quarterbacks by bunching the line of scrimmage and handing the ball off.

UK’s offensive line will need to perform better for UK to win. Whoever rushes for the most yards will win the game.

That edge goes to UK.