COLUMBIA, Mo. — Tennessee’s defense wanted to get last week’s poor performance against Alabama behind it.
The Volunteers will have to repeat that objective this week.
Missouri, which entered the game third in the SEC in total offense, got rolling in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 31-3 win.
The Tigers rolled up 236 yards of offense and scored 17 points in the second period to take a 24-3 lead into halftime against the Vols, who had allowed 479 yards to the top-ranked Crimson Tide in a 45-10 loss in Tuscaloosa.
"Everything just kind of snowballed from there," first-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.
Maty Mauk, who was making the third start of his career in relief of the injured James Franklin, accounted for 85 of Missouri’s 197 first-half yards and went over the 100-yard mark with a 19-yard scramble midway through the third quarter. Three of the redshirt freshman’s first eight passes went for touchdowns.
The Vols left L’Damian Washington wide open on one touchdown, and Marcus Lucas beat JaRon Toney deep for another long score. Jones said there were some communication issues in the secondary.
When Mauk wasn’t completing passes deep, he was gashing Tennessee with his legs and continuing the Vols’ woes this season against running quarterbacks.
"He would hit the open receiver," Vols safety Brian Randolph said. "If we had a kink in our coverage, he would find it. Also, when there was nothing there, he would take the ball and run with it.
"It's definitely frustrating, but we can't let it get to us and try to get him off the field the next series."
Missouri finished with 502 yards and was 10-of-19 on third downs, on which the Vols were a woeful 2-of-13.
Not down on Dobbs
In the first start of his young career, freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs showed some glimpses of what he can do while also making some typical freshman mistakes.
The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder finished 26-of-42 passing for 240 yards and added 45 yards rushing, but he threw two interceptions and fumbled once.
"I thought Joshua did some great things moving forward," first-year coach Butch Jones said. "Some great learning lessons -- some positive, some negative. I think he's going to do nothing but get better and better, and I was extremely encouraged by what I saw in him."
Tennessee's offensive line struggled to handle Missouri's defensive front, and the Vols were penalized a handful of times offensively. The biggest play, though, was freshman receiver Josh Smith's drop in the second quarter. Instead of a first-and-goal, the Vols settled for a long field goal, and Jones said the drop "kind of changes the complexion of the game."
"We talked to [Dobbs] in the locker room," right tackles Ja'Wuan James said. "Those turnovers we had, a lot of those, we put those on us as an offensive line. He was scrambling out of the pocket and he was running around. We've got to do a better job of having his back."
"Josh is very mature," added receiver Pig Howard, who had 11 catches for 89 yards. "Regardless of any mistake he makes, he comes back with a positive attitude. He's just a hard worker in general. He wasn't down on himself at all, and he was ready to get back on that field and make a play."
Safety Brian Randolph (shoulder), limited in practice this past week, started for Tennessee. Safety Byron Moore also played after spraining his right ankle last week at Alabama. Starting safety LaDarrell McNeil, who had his left wrist heavily taped, missed most of the second quarter before returning on the first defensive series of the second half.
Alex Bullard (ankle) started and played the whole way, but he was flagged for false starts twice in the first half.
Quarterback Nathan Peterman (hand) did not make the travel roster, as the Vols brought walk-on Tyler Page as the emergency third quarterback behind Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.
Missouri got cornerback E.J. Gaines, an All-Big 12 selection who was the Tigers’ fourth-leading tackler last season, back after he missed the past two games with a strained quad.
Tennessee’s captains for the game were linebackers A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp, right guard Zach Fulton and tailback Rajion Neal. … Tennessee’s “Pride of the Southland” marching band did not make the trip to Missouri. The band also didn’t travel to Oregon, though the “Pride” took its full-sized band to both Florida and Alabama. … Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham’s first-quarter touchdown was his third scoring catch against Tennessee the past two seasons. As a freshman, the former No. 1 overall recruit caught the tying score on fourth down and added another in overtime as the Tigers won in four overtimes in Knoxville.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...