The Missouri Tigers may have had a glimpse of the 2012 breakout season that never was, when they opened up the 2013 season in style, a 58-14 win at the hands of Murray State Saturday. Missouri’s ship to begin their first season in the SEC went spiraling out of control at a 5-7 record last season.
Missouri’s injuries derailed any hope of breaking through in the vaulted SEC title race and the ability to slap it to those that criticized the program’s jump into the closest thing to the NFL in college football. Some will boldly turn to the team’s fallout on the average play of the next great receiver in the sport of college football, freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. 28 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns doesn’t give his #1 recruit in the nation status any billing. What most fail to realize is the strength of the previous year’s offense was limited in action.
The Missouri run-oriented spread offense was day and night away from its place in 2011, much to do with the team’s leading rusher Henry Josey being out the entire season and the Tigers quarterback James Franklin, missing or playing in only parts of eight games. If Saturday was any indication, words can’t describe how much Missouri’s offense was missing in 2012, without these two key figures.
Franklin finished Saturday, completing 26 of his 38 passes for a 318 yard margin, three touchdowns to start his 2013 season. Franklin rushed for 44 yards as well against the Racers, the most he had in any game in 2012. Josey, had 113 yards on 13 carries with his first rushing touchdown, coming in the third stanza, on a long 68-yard run. Josey missed all of last season with a left knee injury, suffered later in the 2011 regular season. Both players looked calm and relaxed through the continuation of the start, after Murray State had two different leads in the opening quarter.
Franklin won the quarterback job over backup Maty Mauk in the second week of fall camp, the job was basically up for grabs after Franklin’s injury plagued 2012 season. Franklin is a consummate warrior for this Missouri program, sustaining three different injuries during last season. Missouri’s first conference match against No. 7 ranked Georgia, Franklin received a shoulder injury followed by a knee injury against the team’s third conference opponent, Vanderbilt and a concussion against Syracuse. Before being knocked out, Franklin threw for four touchdowns and a little less than 800 passing yards, combined in those three games.
Josey and sophomore running back Russell Hansbrough delivered strong performances in the first game for offensive coordinator Josh Henson leading Missouri’s offense. Hansbrough scored twice in the first quarter with 104 total yards running, a career high for him after not gaining more than 40 yards in a single game in his freshman season. Missouri’s home opener against McNeese State in 2010, Josey ran for 112 yards on seven carries and three touchdowns in his first ever game at Faurot Field.
Josey, ran for almost 1,200 yards in just 10 games in 2011 before he went down in the third quarter of the Texas game. Saturday’s performance gives Josey the best per carry average of his career, 8.7 yards. Josey’s score in the third quarter was apart of 45 unanswered points for Missouri in the last three quarters. Josey’s 113 yards was also part of Missouri’s 694 total yards offensively.
The Tigers’ 694 yards of total offense Saturday was 50 yards away from tying the most in school history, Missouri’s offense two years ago put up 746 total yards against Western Illinois.
Missouri’s next opponent, Toledo, gave up 262 rushing yards against Florida Saturday, Gators got five yards a pop. Unlike Toledo’s 100th standing in the country last year against the run, Missouri faces Indiana (47th) and Arkansas State (second), among last season’s top 50 rushing defenses in the coming weeks. Toledo lost five starters in the back seven, including 336 combined tackles last season from Dan Molls and Robert Bell at linebacker and safety Jermaine Robinson.