*Mizzou will start Maty Mauk against Tennessee on Saturday night at Faurot Field. Even Tigers coach Gary Pinkel admitted to us the other day that the Tigers themselves have benefitted from other teams that have lost quarterbacks before they played Mizzou. Florida lost Jeff Driskel to a broken leg, and Gators backup Tyler Murphy wasn’t a match for the Mizzou defense. South Carolina starter Connor Shaw didn’t start because of a knee injury, and had great success when he talked his way into the game in the fourth quarter. Georgia was missing pretty much all of their skill position players except their quarterback when Missouri won at Athens.
And now, Tennessee’s Justin Worley is out for the Volunteers game at Faurot Field on Saturday. Worley suffered a thumb injury against Alabama, and will force Butch Jones to start a freshman quarterback on the road. While Worley is scheduled to miss four weeks, James Franklin of Mizzou is questionable for this week and may return earlier than expected.
Mizzou is good, but they’re getting a little luck, too. With a one-game lead over South Carolina, they can’t afford to lose another conference game – so luck is a good thing. If Mauk can get a win against Tennessee, he should be able to win at Kentucky. Then Franklin should return after a bye to face Ole Miss and Texas A&M. South Carolina’s only remaining conference games are at home against Mississippi State and Florida, so the SEC East title may come down to a Thanksgiving weekend game when Johnny Football and the Aggies visit Columbia.
*The Blues are off to the start many expected. I think it’s actually a good thing that the Blues are dealing with some adversity as they head on the road for a three-game trip. Not having Brenden Morrow and Magnus Paajarvi allows them to see what it’s going to be like in the playoffs. Ultimately, they’ll need every player on the roster to win a Stanley Cup. They might as well learn how to change chemistry on the fly and have third- and fourth-line guys step up now rather than later.
*For some reason, the Cardinals get eliminated from the playoffs in miserable fashion. Since current ownership took over, the Redbirds have been eliminated from the playoffs nine times. On two other occasions, they’ve won the World Series. Being in the playoffs and getting knocked out is better than not making the playoffs at all. However, in those nine elimination games, the Cards have been outscored by a combined score of 54-5. Included are a 15-0 loss to Atlanta in NLCS Game 7 in 1996, a 9-0 loss to San Francisco in last year’s NLCS Game 7, a 7-0 loss to the Mets in the 2000 NLCS and 3-0 to the Red Sox in the final game of the ’04 World Series. Somehow, they need to compete better when their backs are against the wall in those games Their record in elimination games over the last three years is really good, but when they get knocked out, they take quite a punch.
*Can we also stop the ridiculous “David Ortiz has to be on steroids” talk? Yes, players have brought it on themselves, but it’s outrageous. During this World Series, there is no defined link between Ortiz and PEDs. Yes, there was in 2003. But since then, he wasn’t named in the Mitchell Commission report, he wasn’t associated with Biogenesis, and he hasn’t (to my knowledge) failed a test. Carlos Beltran had a stretch this season from April 18-22 when he went 9-for-20 with three homers, and I didn’t hear Cardinal fans screaming that he was on the juice. Matt Carpenter went 11-for-18 from June 2-5, and I didn’t hear the howls. In 2012, Matt Holliday went 11-for-17 in late June, and all I heard was that he wasn’t clutch because he only drove in four runs in those four games. Guys get hot. Ortiz got hot in October. It doesn’t mean he had to be artificially enhanced.
*When D’Marco and I got the midseason question Wednesday about what the Rams should use their first-round picks on, both of us in unison said “cornerback.” Janoris Jenkins appears to be covering less and talking more than he did as a rookie, and his overall game has regressed. $50 million free agent Cortland Finnegan has been out with a thigh or hamstring injury for most of the season, and hasn’t played well when he was in there. And Trumaine Johnson is a serviceable player, but far from the shutdown corner the Rams need on at least one side of the field. With the other pick? I like the idea of an offensive lineman, either to follow free agent-to-be tackle Rodger Saffold or be an heir at a guard spot. And if there’s an intriguing quarterback there when the Rams choose, they will need to have one of those eventually, too. There’s no guarantee that Sam Bradford will be healthy, and at the very least Jeff Fisher and his staff should have a youngster to develop if Bradford departs in free agency after 2015.