Missouri kicked off its season yesterday against the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana State, with the expectation of an easy first victory. The Tigers did not disappoint, dominating throughout the entire contest en route to a 62-10 victory. While the game was decided during the first quarter, there were many takeaways for fans that stayed and watched the whole game.
James Franklin is healthy
Quarterback James Franklin suffered a shoulder injury during spring practice and sat out throughout most of training camp. There were some questions as to if he was completely healthy heading into the start of the season and if he would be ready for action in week one. Franklin answered the questions yesterday by playing three quarters without any injury concerns. The quarterback didn't have the best game of his career by any means, but he did what he had to do against a weaker opponent.
The offense struggled at times
The Missouri offense got off to a commanding start, scoring on its first two drives. The team took a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, but once the second quarter hit, the Mizzou offense fizzled out and struggled to move the ball - so much so that the Tigers went scoreless in the second quarter. Much of the struggle can be attributed to the weather, as remnants from Hurricane Isaac were hitting Columbia, but the Tigers won't be able to get away with no offensive production against better competition.
The defense came up huge
Mizzou's defense looked great yesterday, dominating every time it took the field. The Tigers' defensive starters held Southeastern Louisiana to three points while on the field and gave up very few big plays. Mizzou forced four turnovers in the game, including two that were taken back for scores. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and defensive end Michael Sam picked up a fumble near the goal line and took it in for another. If the Mizzou defense can play like it did yesterday throughout the season, it will be a force to be reckoned with.
Corbin Berkstresser can play at the college level
Coach Gary Pinkel sat his starters for the fourth quarter of the game, giving the backups a chance to shine. For many, it was their first live snaps as Missouri Tigers. Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser got in the game for the first time in his college career and simply looked outstanding. Berkstresser, a redshirt freshman, completed all five of the passes he threw, totaling 60 yards and a touchdown; he also rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The backup quarterback position was a little bit of a question mark heading into the season, but Berkstresser proved last night that he will be a viable option to turn to if James Franklin ever has to miss any significant time.
The running game will be just fine
Many Mizzou fans worried about the running game with the news that Henry Josey would be missing the entire 2012 season. The team is now relying on a three-man rotation at running back, and all three proved that they would be able to contribute in a big way this season. Senior Kendial Lawerence got the starting nod in the game and showed why, scoring a 76-yard touchdown on the first play of the second offensive drive of the game. Backup Marcus Murphy got a couple of decent carries, but made a name for himself on punt returns, scoring two amazing touchdowns of 70 and 72 yards. Murphy is definitely the speed back of the bunch, and has big play ability whenever he touches the ball. True freshman Russell Hansbrough also saw limited action in the game, but was very impressive with the touches he did get. It would be nice to have Josey out there as well, but the three backs proved last night that they would be able to carry the workload.
All in all, it was a very successful opening weekend for Mizzou. The Tigers did what they were supposed to do, destroying inferior competition in the opening game of the season.
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