The Missouri won their second game of the season Saturday, defeating Gary Pinkel’s former school, the Toledo Rockets, 38-23. While the Rockets were more of a challenge than Murray State in week one, the Tigers handled Toledo with ease, forcing the Rockets to play from behind almost all day.
So how did the Tigers grade out with their Saturday performance?
THE RUNNING GAME – At first glance, the 172 rushing yards accumulated by the Tigers looked very impressive. The 3.7 yards per carry does not. Things improve when you remove 3 carries for -18 by Maty Mauk and “Team” (?). Without out those 3 carries (the NCAA counts sacks as negative rushes – don’t know why), that average jumps to a much more respectable 4.3.
The worrisome thing about the Tigers’ ground this week was the ineffectiveness of Henry Josey running the ball. Josey, who average nearly 9 yards a carry in week one, only averaged 2.9 a rush in week two. He did have some success in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns. Russell Hansbrough also struggled, gaining just 31 yards on 10 carries. Luckily, the Tigers have good depth at running back. Marcus Murphy picked up the slack, going for 56 yards on 8 totes. James Franklin ended up carrying most of the load with 17 rushes for 77 yards.
Grade: B-, for quantity, not quality.
THE PASSING GAME – James Franklin led an efficient aerial attack, completing 16 of his 25 attempts for 212 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception. L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham each snagged 5 passes, but freshman Levi Copelin had the the longest catch of the day – 51 yards.
EXTRAS – The offense converted on 9 of their 15 third down attempts (60%), and racked up 23 first downs.
Overall Offense Grade: B
Run Defense – Toledo only racked up 123 yards on the ground, but spent most of the day catching up, so they were passing more. The Rockets did average 5.4 yards on their 23 totes. The Tigers did have a little trouble containing the number one running back, David Fluellen, who averaged 6.5 yards on his 17 rushes.
Grade – B-
Pass Defense – Considering Toledo aired it out 41 times, the 262 yards doesn’t look that bad. Alonzo Russell and Fluellen each had 100 yards receiving but Missouri shut down everyone else. The Tigers came up with 3 interceptions on the day, none bigger than on the last play of the second half. With the Rockets on the 3 yard line, Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens was pressured into throwing a ball into the end zone. Matt White was able to tip it and intercept it, running it back to the 10, and running out the clock. If the Rockets complete that pass, they would have been down by just one (if they kicked the extra point instead of going for 2) going into the half, with all of the momentum on their side.
Grade – A-
Extras – Toledo actually produced 3 more total yards than the Tigers but had trouble turning those yards into touchdowns, especially in the first half. The Tigers kept them out of the end zone in the first half and only allowed 4 third down conversions on the day (out of 11 chances).
Overall Defense Grade: A-
Missouri only had 22 yards on 3 punt returns and averaged an unimpressive 21 yards on 2 kick off returns. Punter Christian Brinser only averaged 36.5 yards per punt and had one returned for 29 yards. Place kicker Andrew Baggett was perfect on the day, including a 35-yard field goal.
On Toledo’s two kick-off returns, they averaged 40 yards, so that is something Pinkel will need to address.
Overall Special Teams Grade – D
The Tigers never really looked threatened against Toledo. While they didn’t exactly blow the Rockets out of the water, they also never really let them get on a roll. Interceptions and good defensive stands helped Missouri to a well played victory.
OVERALL GRADE – B
UP NEXT – Missouri is off this weekend before the Tigers go on the road for the first time this season and to take on Indiana Hoosiers (1-1). The game time on September 21st is 7 p.m. CDT, and the game will be on the Big Ten Network.