Ray stings the Knights

The junior’s five sacks are already more than he had last season.

Shane Ray comes out of nowhere, lurking and waiting for his chance.

For both of his sacks in Missouri’s 38-10 win over Central Florida, Ray lined up on quarterback Justin Holman’s blind side. In the third quarter, Ray pushed the left tackle back, and as Holman stepped up in the pocket, the junior defensive end shed his blocker and pounced for a sack. The next quarter, Ray peeled around the left tackle and sacked Holman before the quarterback could react.

“All I can think is finish the play,” Ray said. “It presented itself. It’s there for you. Go attack it. Go make the play.”

He’s like an animal that lies in wait and hurts when it arrives.

“If there’s a nickname for me, they call me ‘Stingray,’” Ray said when asked what moniker he would pick for himself.

It’s the same name his father had when he played for Mizzou. And after registering two sacks as part of four tackles for a loss against Central Florida, Ray said it fits him too.

“That’s what I expect from Shane,” senior defensive end Markus Golden said. “Shane (is) a beast, man.”

Last week, the attention was on Golden, who had six tackles and and a sack against Toledo. Ray upped his counterpart with seven tackles, including two tackles for a loss in the first quarter.

“Maybe he was a little mad that Markus got all of the attention last week,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “I don’t know.”

Ray didn’t register a sack until the second half. UCF was able to control the time of possession and keep the game close by moving the ball on the ground. The Knights ran for 78 yards in the first half with a variety of misdirections and sweep runs to the outside, and Missouri held a 14-10 lead after the second quarter.

But after sophomore defensive tackle Josh Augusta tipped and intercepted a pass in the third quarter, momentum swung. Mizzou scored 24 points in the second half, while Ray and the rest of the defense left UCF scoreless after halftime.

As a whole, Mizzou's defensive line increasingly got to Holman as the game wore on, as he took longer dropbacks. The Tigers had 6.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.

After Ray sacked Holman with just under nine minutes left in the contest, Mizzou followed up by converting a field goal. The score was 31-10, and the outcome was effectively sealed.

Ray said that Augusta’s play swung the momentum, but it was Ray who moved the needle for most of the day.

“Shane was everywhere,” Pinkel said.

Sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer called Ray the fastest defensive linemen in the country.

“You can’t outrun him,” Scherer said. “You can’t cut him, if you try to. He’s an animal. He’s physical.”

Just three games into this season, Ray has five sacks, a half sack more than he had all of last season, when he rotated into games as a backup to Michael Sam and Kony Ealy.

“I’m just going to try to build on every game,” Ray said. “I don’t know what everyone else’s expectations are for me, but every play that I can make, I’m going to make.”

As media dispersed around Ray, the defensive end shook hands with a Mizzou Athletics staff member. He had a question.

“Can I shower now?” Ray asked.

The stingray wanted back in the water.

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