Score: Mizzou 58, Murray State 14
It was over when: E.J. Gains intercepted a pass two plays after a missed Missouri field goal to regain momentum. Jimmie Hunt caught a 22-yard touchdown pass three plays later to give Missouri the lead for good.
Player of the Game: Henry Josey ran for 113 yards on 13 carries for one touchdown. But Russell Hansbrough‘s two touchdowns and 104 yards on eight carries – including a 51-yard TD run in the first quarter – wins the day.
1. Henry Josey
Henry Josey is fast, which is good news. There was some concern about how Josey would look nearly two years removed from the last time he was on a football field. Fortunately for Missouri fans, Josey looks just as good as ever. On just 13 carries, Josey ran for 113 yards and a touchdown, flashing his blazing speed on a 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The need for Josey to be healthy is high up on the list of priorities if Missouri is going to rebound from last season. Saturday night was the kind of step you’d like to see.
Arguably the biggest key to Mizzou’s season, Franklin completed 26-of-38 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns. The results are all relative to the competition, of course, but this was an encouraging outing from Franklin.
Something else to consider is how well the Franklin-led offense responded to the ugliness of the first quarter. The defense was being run through, special teams missed a short field goal and had an extra point blocked, and Bud Sasser fumbled on the fourth play of the game.
Leadership has been something of an issue for Franklin, so the fact Missouri responded with scores on six of their nine Franklin-led possessions afterwords (5 TD, 1 FG) should mean something to Franklin’s ability to manage the moment. It may seem trivial considering this happened against Murray State, but ask Kansas State if games against lower caliber teams are trivial. This was a valuable experience for Franklin and the offense to dominate like they did in the first half..
3. The Defense
“Does the first team defense dominate? Against a team such as Murray State, the first team defense should have it’s way. If they give up more than ten points, there could be some issues going forward.” – Kyle Morris
There are multiple ways to look at this.
From the second quarter to the end of the game, Mizzou forced seven punts and three interceptions, while allowing only 101 total offensive yards.
Murray State is nowhere near the level of Missouri in terms of talent, and were throughly thrashed by the Tigers defense for three quarters of the game. Those three quarters are likely more indicative of what Missouri is in terms of talent than what the first quarter showed, even though the backups played most of the garbage minutes in the second half.
Fourteen-play, 83-yard touchdown drives don’t equal defensive domination.
Murray State held a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, with 196 total offensive yards and four plays of 17 yards or more. Mizzou had issues stopping the run early, and allowed Murray State to impose their will for most of the first quarter. Had it not been for a missed field goal, Mizzou’s deficit could have been larger.
So was the first quarter a result of nerves? (Probably.) Or is this an issue moving forward as Kyle suggested?
After watching the first quarter, Pinkel has to be a little bit nervous about traveling to Indiana in three weeks. The Hoosiers put up 73 points on Indian State on Saturday, rushing for a staggering 313 yards. Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries, while Nate Sudfeld threw for four touchdowns.
If Missouri defends the run like they did in the first quarter, Indiana is going to cause a lot of issues for the Tigers.
Mizzou’s defense should be given a strong passing grade after week one. Everything you could ask the defense to do after the first three possessions, the Tigers defense did. Chalk up the first quarter to nerves and move on. But if these early struggles continue against Toledo then your anxiety will be justified.
Schlafly. Pale Ale. Make it happen.
Mizzou says at home to host Toledo at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Rockets lost at Florida 24-6 on Saturday.