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September 22, 2013

The Day After

















***GAME DAY REPORT CARD***


  • Quarterback: James Franklin overcame two early interceptions to have his best statistical performance as a Tiger. 68-percent completions, 404 total yards, 3 touchdowns is a great day no matter how you slice it. Those interceptions came at a time where Missouri could have ended the game early, but Franklin still rebounded to lead scoring drives on the next possessions. GRADE: B+
  • Running Back: Russell Hansbrough's 45-yard touchdown run in the fourth brought him over 100 yards, but it was a by-committee day and the running backs did a good job. Hansbrough, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy combined for 201 yards on 35 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per rush. Two touchdowns. It wasn't always explosive, but that trio got the job done. Josey deserves a special mention for getting better and better in picking up blitzes as a blocker, too. GRADE: A
  • Receivers: Only two knocks here are a fumble by Marcus Lucas and a dropped touchdown pass by Jimmie Hunt. Other than that, Missouri's receivers were nearly flawless. Two 100-yard receivers, the first time since 2010 that's happened. Dorial Green-Beckham's touchdown catch through pass interference deserves an extra 'attaboy. GRADE: A
  • Offensive Line: Franklin got sacked three times, but at least two of them seemed to be coverage sacks. Missouri's offensive line opened enough holes for 280 rushing yards, and Anthony Gatti held up well in his first start at left guard. GRADE: A-
  • Defensive Line: Missouri's line is still looking for a breakthrough in the sack department, but they found pressure in the backfield throughout the night. Kony Ealy's pick-and-score bumps this up a lot, as does the fact that Indiana ran for 98 yards on 25 carries. Solid day against a good offense. GRADE: A
  • Linebackers: It was a rough first half for the linebackers who seemed lost at times in coverage. But the return of Andrew Wilson and a move to a 3-3-5 defense led to the best quarter of defense for Missouri this season. Plus, this unit registered two interceptions. GRADE: B+
  • Secondary: Indiana had two long pass plays, one of 77 and one of 68 yards. Other than that, Missouri's secondary was in good position, and E.J. Gaines had an especially good day. But, those long pass plays are still a concern. GRADE: B
  • Special Teams: Everything was good save for the missed 31-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett. That's still a cause for concern. Marcus Murphy isn't getting many chances to return, but Missouri is countering that by bringing the heat on punt blocks. Christian Brinser had a good day with a 43.5-yard average and two punts inside the 20. The Tigers didn't surrender any big returns, either. But until Baggett gets more consistent, this one gets a knock. GRADE: B-
  • Coaching: Josh Henson called a good game, start to finish, and leaned on the running game to ice the win. Dave Steckel made a great change with the 3-3-5 defense in the third quarter, and it paid off. Gary Pinkel's fake field goal turned into a touchdown a few plays later. Can't complain too much here. GRADE: A

  • ***GAME AT A GLANCE***


  • Player of the Game: It was really a team effort, as multiple players could get this award. But Ealy's interception return spurred on the defense, so he gets the nod.
  • Play of the Game: No need to go on and on. Ealy's 49-yard pick and score turned the game.
  • It was over when...: Franklin found L'Damian Washington in the front corner of the endzone early in the fourth quarter to get Missouri to a 38-14 lead.
  • Reason to feel good: Outside of two long plays and a meaningless 75-yard drive, Missouri's defense held a top-ten offense to 255 yards and forced three turnovers. The Tigers only allowed 98 yards on 25 carries.
  • Cause for Concern: You can't ignore the two long pass plays, in which the defense seemed lost in space. Long plays have been a concern in the last two games, and Indiana won't be the last top offense Missouri sees this year.
  • Up Next: Missouri returns to Columbia to host Arkansas State on Saturday, Sep. 28. Kick-off is set for 6:30 PM

  • ***FIVE THOUGHTS ON THE TIGERS***


  • James Franklin can rebound. If this were a year ago, the two first-half interceptions may have caused Franklin to spiral. This year, that isn't the case. Even after the picks, Henson put the game in Franklin's arm and let him keep throwing. He was lights-out from there and should have had three touchdown passes.
  • Star-studded receivers showing their talent. It's hard to believe that neither Marcus Lucas nor Dorial Green-Beckham had a 100-yard game until Saturday. Both players showed sure hands and made big catches on third downs. Green-Beckham, in particular, is showing a desire to get tough yardage after contact, and he's lethal in the endzone. But even more than them, Missouri's other receivers are stepping up. Jimmie Hunt and L'Damian Washington had 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown combined.
  • Something special about this defense. It may not always be pretty. The statistics may not look great. But Missouri's defense has nine interceptions through three games this year after getting just seven a year ago, and despite some secondary struggles, they find themselves in position before they break at key times. Turnovers are a fickle mistress, but the karma gods are smiling on this defense right now.
  • Jekyll and Hyde at kicker. Andrew Baggett is still searching for consistency this season and he missed another field goal, this time from 39 yards. He's made three of five for this season, and his misses haven't exactly been challenging kicks. With conference play ahead, Baggett's inconsistency is still a red flag.
  • The coaching staff is making major adjustments. There haven't been many bang-your-head-against-a-wall moments with this staff this year. Henson called a good game, and the pass was working early on, so he stayed with it. When the team needed to run, he did just that. On defense, the 3-3-5 seemed to work wonders against a spread team and was a big shift in the second half. And going for a fake field goal in a scoreless game on the road? Bold move. The staff seems to have a little swagger through three games, and that's showing in the win column.

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