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Backup QBs in spotlight for Missouri, S Carolina

Friday, 25 October 2013 22:09 Published in Sports

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A pair of backup quarterbacks will have a big say in the Southeastern Conference East Division race this weekend.

After defeating Florida 36-17 in his first career start, Missouri redshirt freshman Maty Mauk again leads the No. 5 Tigers as James Franklin recovers from a separated throwing shoulder. Opposing him will be South Carolina junior Dylan Thompson, who hopes to save the No. 20 Gamecocks' season as Connor Shaw looks on with a sprained left knee.

Mauk gave Missouri a two-game cushion in the division last week by throwing for 295 yards against a Gators defense that previously allowed only 152 passing yards per game.

"If you watched him play in high school, that's what he looked like," coach Gary Pinkel said. "The bigger the game, the better he played."

Mauk finds himself as the most tenured available quarterback for the Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC).

Third-stringer Corbin Berkstresser, a sophomore who played in 10 games last year, tore his left medial meniscus in his knee during practice Oct. 15 and is out indefinitely. He continued practicing until an MRI on Monday discovered the cause of his discomfort.

Freshman Eddie Printz, who is currently redshirting, takes over as Mauk's backup.

Down two games to Missouri with only three conference games remaining, South Carolina (5-2, 3-2) would be virtually eliminated if it lost consecutive games for the second time since 2010 after losing 23-21 at Tennessee. The Tigers would need to lose their remaining four games to re-open the door.

Thompson is no stranger to playing despite making only his third career start. He's participated in 21 games and engineered wins over East Carolina, Clemson and Michigan last season. He's thrown for 421 yards this year after 1,027 in 2012-13.

"I think it helps, but it's a new team, new game," he said. "Missouri's a great team, they've got a good crowd. We have to be ready for that. This week's the biggest game we've played yet."

Five things to watch in this SEC East showdown:

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: Last year, Missouri played in its first SEC road game at South Carolina, losing 31-10 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Shaw threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and completed a school-record 20 consecutive passes. In just their second season in the league, the Tigers now appear to be the team ready to pounce. Wins at home over the Gamecocks and Tennessee next week would clinch the division.

QUARTERBACK PRESSURE: Missouri leads the SEC in sacks (23) while South Carolina has yielded 10 in its past three games. Tigers end Michael Sam ranks first individually with nine and 13 tackles for loss. All the pressure upfront allows Missouri to generally rush four, freeing defenders to sit back in coverage. The Gamecocks must contain their opponent's defensive line and give Thompson time to throw.

RUNNING MIKE DAVIS: The SEC's leading rusher is enjoying a breakout season. Averaging 125.6 rushing yards per game, the Gamecocks' sophomore has run for 100 yards against every opponent except Vanderbilt. If he's successful Saturday, he'll force Missouri to put more defenders up front and open the passing game for Thompson.

MISSOURI'S RUNNING BACK HEALTH: Missouri relies on 234.4 rushing yards per game to take some pressure off its quarterbacks, and is able to do so because of its trio of running backs. But both sophomore Russell Hansbrough (turf toe) and junior Marcus Murphy (concussion) sustained injuries against Florida last week, and junior Henry Josey survived a scare with his surgically reconstructed left knee. All three are expected to play this week, but their health will be closely monitored.

IMPRESSIVE START: Missouri is 7-0 after defeating ranked opponents in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1976. Another win this week over No. 20 South Carolina would make it the first Tigers team since 1939 to win three consecutive. A victory would also give the team its first 8-0 start since 1960 and first 4-0 start in conference since 1968.

Kesler's OT goal gives Canucks win over Blues

Friday, 25 October 2013 22:06 Published in Sports

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ryan Kesler scored his second goal of the game at 4:45 of overtime during a power play to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

With Patrik Berglund off for hooking, Vancouver took advantage of the 4-on-3 power play when Kesler got control of the puck down low in the slot and swatted it past goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Backup goalie Eddie Lack made 22 saves for the Canucks, who went 5-1-1 on their seven-game road trip.

Chris Higgins had Vancouver's other goal, and Mike Santorelli added two assists.

Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist for St. Louis, and Vladimir Sobotka also scored.

Higgins gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first period when he raced down left wing on a 3-on-2 rush and took a shot from the left circle. Defenseman Roman Polak slid down to block the shot, but he deflected it instead, and the puck sailed over Halak's left shoulder.

After Kesler made it 2-0 with a one-timer from the slot at 9:34 of the second period, the Blues got back in it by scoring on a 5-on-3 power play with 6.4 seconds left in the period.

T.J. Oshie got control of the puck deep in the left circle and sent a centering pass to Steen, who beat Lack with a one-timer.

Sobotka made it 2-2 with a shot from the right circle 1:38 into the third period.

 

NOTES: The Blues played their first game after having a week off. St . Louis played an NHL-low seven games in the first 22 days of the season. It marked the lightest schedule to begin a season in team history. ... Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, who entered the game tied for second in points with 15 and first in assists with 12, earned assist on Kesler's game winner. ... The St. Louis Cardinals' Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso attended the game during an off day in the World Series and received a large ovation when they were shown on the video board.

Peavy could have been in Series for Cardinals

Friday, 25 October 2013 22:05 Published in Sports

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jake Peavy could have been starting Game 3 of the World Series for the home team.

Dealt from the Chicago White Sox to Boston as part of a three-team trade in July, Peavy was being pursued by the Cardinals last summer.

"I know it was a pretty serious conversation I guess they were having in St. Louis," he said Friday. "I would have been excited to come to St. Louis. It's a place I dearly love and enjoyed playing in any time through here."

With the Series tied at a game apiece, the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will start for Boston on Saturday night in his Series debut at age 32. Joe Kelly takes the mound for the Cardinals.

Back in the playoffs for the first time in seven years, Peavy went 12-5 during the regular season and then pitched well but didn't get a decision in Game 4 of the division series. He allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings during a 3-1 win at Tampa Bay, and then was hit hard in the Game 4 championship series defeat at Detroit, giving up seven runs in three innings.

He maintained "just a small, small adjustment" was the only thing he needed to do to get ready for the Cards.

"There's absolutely no excuses tomorrow night. This is what I've lived for my whole life," he said. "I'm as prepared as I'll ever be, physically, mentally."

Excited about his first Series start, he brought sons Jacob Edward and Wyatt to the Busch Stadium interview room on Friday, Queried about their favorite players, they both said dad first, followed by Jacoby Ellsbury for Wyatt and Jonny Gomes for Jacob.

"They've got good taste," dad said.

With the Series shifting to the National League ballpark, Peavy was looking forward to bunting or being involved in a hit-and-run.

He might be a .173 career hitter during the regular season, but he does have a pair of home runs - both in July 2006, against Philadelphia's Scott Mathieson and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Brad Penny.

Peavy spent his first 7 1/2 seasons with San Diego.

"I love the National League-style of game," he said, "and feeling like a true baseball player, as opposed to how we are as a pitcher in the American League."

Clay Buchholz, slowed by a shoulder issue, is slated to start Game 4 for the Red Sox on Sunday against Lance Lynn. Buchholz threw from about 100 feet on flat ground Friday.

Game 5 Monday will feature a rematch of the opener, when Jon Lester defeated St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.

But first, Game 3. Peavy already sounded amped up for his start.

"Let's not sugarcoat anything, this is the biggest game up until this point in time that I've ever pitched. We'd be silly to sit here and say otherwise," Peavy said. "To go out in a World Series game and have a chance to sway the odds, the favor, in your direction, on the road, with a team that's got some momentum with a big win at our place, of course. I think this is the biggest start in my career."

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