September 15, 2015

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel acknowledged his team has yet to perform at its best thus far, and Russell Hansbrough's injury likely isn't helping.

The 22nd-ranked Tigers won't have their senior running back available for Saturday's visit from Connecticut, their final game before the start of SEC play.

Missouri held off Arkansas State this past weekend for a 27-20 road victory, with Maty Mauk throwing two third-quarter TD passes and three overall. Mauk, though, also connected on just 16 of 36 passes and was intercepted twice.

The Tigers (2-0) totaled 288 yards after putting up 417 in a 34-3 win over Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 5.

"We could be sitting here talking about a loss," Pinkel said. "But we found a way to win a game, and that's good. The bad news is we're not playing as good as we can play."

Mauk has completed 48.3 percent of his passes this season and 52.4 percent in 29 career games. He did provide the Tigers with 75 rushing yards on 10 carries with Hansbrough limited while trying to play through an injured right ankle.

Pinkel indicated Missouri would rely on Mauk to run more Saturday, and Ish Witter will likely start at running back in place of Hansbrough. Witter had 50 yards on 12 attempts against Arkansas State, but 27 came on one carry.

"We have to have more consistent play out of the offensive line. That's what we're going to correct and fix this week," center Evan Boehm said. "We need to bring up the intensity level and the physicality.

"We've got to keep Maty protected and keep rolling and doing the things that the offensive line has been doing the past couple of years."

Pinkel is holding Hansbrough out Saturday to let him heal ahead of Missouri's SEC opener Sept. 26 at Kentucky. The senior had a team-best 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014.

"We certainly need to get him healthy 100 percent because he is definitely a force," the Missouri coach said. "It's very important to the success of our offense if we can get him healthy."

Boehm, a preseason all-SEC honoree, played through an injured right ankle in his 42nd consecutive start, and all-conference linebacker Kentrell Brothers had 16 tackles for the second straight week while intercepting two passes.

Brothers will try to keep that specular start going against a Connecticut team that's seeking to add one of its most significant wins in program history to its best start in seven years.

The Huskies (2-0) have earned each of their two wins by five points, beating FCS-ranked Villanova 20-15 on Sept. 3 and Army 22-17 this past weekend to match their win total for all of last season.

Andrew Adams sealed the latest win with a fourth-quarter interception, his second in as many games. Bryant Shirreffs completed 19 of 25 passes for 270 yards in his second game with UConn since transferring from North Carolina State.

"All we want to do is win," Shirreffs said. "It's, I guess, what we expect. But, it's really good to see what you envision become a reality."

Connecticut is seeking its first winning season since 2010 but will play three of its next four on the road, where it's lost 15 of 18 since October 2011.

Connecticut is 2-22 against AP Top 25 teams since moving up to FBS in 2000 and earned its most recent win Nov. 24, 2012, topping No. 19 Louisville 23-20 on the road. That is the Huskies' lone victory in 15 visits to ranked opponents.

Missouri and Connecticut are meeting for the first time.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)