Last season, the Missouri Tigers struggled to a 5-7 record in their first year as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers were beaten up, literally, as numerous injuries made things tough on Gary Pinkel and his squad all season long.
Saturday’s opening game against the Murray State Racers figured to be a chance for the Tigers to get healthy, literally and figuratively, on a lesser opponent. However, Mizzou trailed 14-13 after one quarter.
But from there, the Tigers turned it on, scoring 45 straight points en route to a 58-14 win in Columbia.
What was even better news for Pinkel and Mizzou was that the Tigers appeared to be fully healthy. Quarterback James Franklin, who suffered multiple injuries last season, looked like the James Franklin of old, passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the contest. He also rushed for 44 yards on six carries, an aspect of his game that was missing last season.
Henry Josey, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, also looked good in his return to the field. Josey carried 13 times for 113 yards and a touchdown, showing the form that he had during the 2011 season when he was a 1,000-yard rusher.
If Missouri is to take a step forward this season, the team must stay healthy. If Saturday’s game is any indication, the Tigers could be on their way to returning to the success that they have had up until last season — and that would be enough to get Pinkel off the hot seat in Columbia.