October 12, 2013
Overall Record: 2-0
Richt vs. Missouri: 1-0
Welcome to the SEC – that's probably the best way to describe Missouri's first year in the conference. The Tigers didn't win a conference game until week nine of the fall. The program's momentum seemed stalled from the time Jarvis Jones put an exclamation point on Georgia's 41-20 win in September.
But this is life in the SEC. South Carolina took nearly two decades to have back-to-back seasons with ten wins as a member of the conference – will it take Missouri as long?
Missouri is going to have to grow up in a slew of ways as an athletic department if it wants to compete in its new conference. The Tigers' problem isn't just that it wasn't prepared for the first season on the gridiron, but that it doesn't seem ready for the next couple of years.
The good news for Missouri fans is that the institution seems to have grasped that it has a long way to go. Understanding there is a long path forward is one thing – living through it is another.
Consider that since the SEC's first expansion in 1992 that every program in the SEC has had a losing season except one – Florida. Also consider how difficult it is to get past the best of the best in the SEC East. Florida, Tennessee and Georgia have won 20 of 21 division titles since 1992. The one time another program won the division, South Carolina in 2010, it lost in the SEC Championship Game by a record score.
The long and the short of it is that Missouri has a difficult and lengthy road to success in the SEC – if that time ever comes.
Missouri player to watch:
Heading into last year's game against Missouri, Mark Richt said he was "definitely concerned" with how his defense would contain Franklin in the pocket. Georgia played well, though, and secured the victory after a strong second-half performance.
Following the Georgia game, Franklin's production fell off after a multitude of injuries and other offensive struggles. But despite his pedestrian performance in 2012, Franklin remains one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC.
Franklin struggled last year in his first full season in the nation's toughest conference, starting only 8 of the Tigers' 12 games after health issues. He also saw his impressive statistics from 2011 cut in half, and had a very hard time running the ball like he had in years past, averaging a mediocre 1.4 yards per carry.
Should he remain healthy this year, though, Franklin has the potential to catapult the Tigers back to their winning ways. But his condition is a major "if," as he's become susceptible to injury in recent years.
What the Dawgs must do:
It will be easy for Georgia to take its eye off the ball in October. Missouri comes to town sandwiched between big trips to Knoxville and Nashville. The Tigers were blown out at home by Georgia last season, so could the Dawgs start thinking about the future and not the task at hand? Georgia's offense should be too much for the Tigers to handle on the road, but the program needs to understand that this is a bit of a trap game.
Inside the numbers:
The Tigers did not have an easy transition year into the SEC. Missouri won just five games, its fewest in Gary Pinkel's last seven seasons, and replaced its offensive coordinator. There still is a steep learning curve this season. Missouri has not played anyone on this season's schedule more than 13 times in its history and eight opponents its played three times or fewer, including the Bulldogs, who own a 2-0 edge in the all-time series.
Non-existent. Will that change? Probably not. It will be interesting to see how Missouri navigates the recruiting world of the SEC. It's not going to take long for this new set of Tigers to understand that recruiting in the SEC isn't like recruiting anywhere else in the country – it's cut throat.
Last year's prediction: This will be a strange one. Missouri will be out to show they belong in the SEC – that's not a great scenario for week two of the year. Still, Georgia is better than Missouri, but they should be in for a fight. If they can control the line of scrimmage, which should be the case, they will be fine. Otherwise this is a game the Bulldogs had better watch out for.
It took until the fourth quarter, but Georgia blew out Missouri in the end. Jarvis Jones' interception of James Franklin opened the flood gates for the Bulldogs.
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2013 Media Days: Legge's Look at Missouri
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