The Missouri Tigers got off to a 1-0 start with a 17-6 win over Miami,OH to get the 2011 season going on the right track.
Mizzou's win extended its regular-season non-conference win streak to 22. The last time MU has dropped a regular-season non-conference game was back in 2005 at home against New Mexico.
Still, I feel that some either took the Redhawks for granted or expected more from their Tigers as expectations usually run high before each season. And why not? The Tigers have won 40 games over the last four years and return probably what is their best defensive unit in decades.
Miami, OH, however, did not get the memo that they were suppose to roll over and play dead. The Redhawks have some talent and executed a nice game plan against the Tigers refusing to go away without a fight.
That Tiger defense showed it was the real deal when it counted, only giving up a touchdown on a Franklin deep in the Tigers territory, and in the end Mizzou got just enough offense on the day for the victory.
Here is a break down of the Tigers performance as I saw it.
- James Franklin: Despite looking bad on some of his throws and making a poor decision on the throw which led to an interception deep in the Tigers end and resulted in Miami,OH's only points, Franklin had a successful debut and is one 1-0 as a Tiger starting QB. They all can't be pretty and Mizzou fans have been spoiled by the QB talent the past few years with Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert.
What Franklin was ultimately is affective. He directed the offense and led his team to it's 3 scores with his legs and his arms. He was the focus of the offense and handled it well in his first time in the spotlight.
- T.J. Moe: The gritty Tiger receiver works harder then anyone to get open and made himself available to Franklin for 6 catches leading the Tiger receivers in that stat and in yards with 56. He also ran the ball twice for 14 yards and looked good as the new Missouri punt returner averaging 15 yards per return, which is good enough to lead the Big 12 and be ranked 14th nationally after Saturday. Moe is the most consistent Tiger target for a reason. He also had a pretty good day with his blocking as well.
Freshman receivers Lucas and Sasser: It was good to see Bud Sasser in the game and make his first reception. Hopefully, there will be plenty more where that came from. Marcus Lucas came up big with a nice TD reception from Franklin on the Tigers final score. Marcus still needs work on some of his blocking, but we can save that for the downs.
Justin Britt: You have to give Justin recognition for his first start as Missouri's left tackle after taking over for an injured Elvis, for his lack of recognition he received during the game. Britt did a solid job and did not stand out for any mistakes that I can remember.
The Missouri defense: You can't say enough good things about the way the defense performed. Despite missing starting cornerback Kip Edwards heading into the game and losing Will Ebner and Jacquies Smith during the game, the Tiger defense held strong. The only points they gave up were when they were put in the bad situation from the INT.
How many teams can be without three starters on defense and still turn in a performance like that?
Miami found a rhythm with hit's short passing game and 3 step drops which keep the Tiger defensive linemen from teeing off most of the day, but they did a good job of bending but not breaking and came up with big stops when needed.
Dominique Hamilton: D-Ham made his first start since breaking his ankle in game #7 last season against Oklahoma, and had a very successful return by tying his personal best for tackles with 8 on the day. His 8 tackles were good for second best against the Redhawks, and he also had a big fumble recovery to help seal the deal against Miami.
Hamilton was just a force getting penetration and disrupting the opponents running game. You could see how dominant he was, and how much he was missed late last season. His big day helped earn him the teams Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Andrew Wilson: Wilson is just a chip off the old tackle. Making a lot like his father and former Missouri career tackles leader,Jay Wilson, Andrew led the team with 10 tackles on the day and multiple big hits on defense and special teams. You have to love the way he plays the game and flies around out there making plays.
Trey Hobson: It's great to see a player like Hobson, who has put in so much work and effort over the years here finally seeing it pay off. He is a good example of why not to write players off if they don't come right in from high school and hit the ground running as starters or stars. Trey on the day made several big plays and big hits in pass and run coverage. It's tough to lose a starter as valuable as Kip Edwards, but the position did not miss a beat with Hobson in there.
Edwin Gaines: EJ to you and I, had the play of the day with his big interception when it looked like Miami was knocking on the doorstep and could possibly score. He also had another big pass break up and 5 tackles in the game despite giving up 6 inches to Miami's 6'5" receiver on the day. Believe it or not, it was Gaines' first interception of his career despite playing in all 13 games last year.
- Brayden Burnett: Hats off to the Tiger sophomore DE for his first career QB sack which was a big one and cause a fumble that helped ice the game for the most part. Burnett is another player that has worked hard during his time at Mizzou and it's great to see him get a pay off like that.
-The Punting game: A nice job by Trey Barrow, who average 44 yards per punt on the day. He also placed 4 punts inside the 10 yard line, and had two reach the 1 yard line, but one of them was called a touchback but was disputable.
- 3rd Down Conversions: The Tigers were a very poor 3 for 13 or 23% on third down conversions on the day. They were also 0 for 1 on their only 4th down conversion attempt. The poor third down showing though is part of the reason the Tigers only scored 17 points on the day. This is an area that needs to be improved upon and done fast.
- Blocking: The Tigers had some issues with their blocking assignments, run blocking and a few with receivers missing their blocks. Overall, it was more positive then negative, but there were several noticeable drive killers on the day.
- Penalties: It was the first game and all, but there were far too many penalties as the Tigers committed 9 of them for 98 yards. Several of them were big drive killers. I give Jayson Palmgren credit for a nice overall game, especially filling in at center, but two stand out in my mind that brought back nice gains. That has to improve as the Tigers continue to face better opponents.
-Injuries: The Tigers were already without 4 of their starters entering the game against Miami,OH. They added to the list by losing DE Jacquies Smith (Elbow) and Will Ebner (Ankle) on the day. Word is that Ebner will miss at least 1 game. No word on when Smith might return. Luckily, you are seeing the good depth that Tigers have stockpiled.
- Franklin's Passing: James has always had a tendency to float the ball on some of his passes, but he has gotten better at it over time. As you saw in a few of his passes, including the TD to Lucas, he has no problem with velocity and putting zip on the ball when he wants to. He does a good job at placing the ball, but sometimes in doing that it hangs in the air on him. It's something that needs to be corrected. Otherwise, I think we could see a few more unwanted INTs this seasons in key situations.
-Receivers: You hope that we will see another playmaker step up and become a more consistent target. For a good portion of the game, Moe was the only receiver with a reception. He only had 6 and the second man in line was Wes Kemp with 3. Three other receivers caught 1 pass. Finding a playmaking receiver at one of the outside spots was a concern during camp. Perhaps the return of Jerrell Jackson will be the difference maker.
- Kendial Lawrence: After having a very strong per-season camp, much was expected from Lawrence in the season opener. He managed only 10 yards on 9 carries for a 1,1 per carry average.
Defensive Player of the Week: Dominique Hamilton
Offensive Player of the Week: James Franklin
Special Teams Player of the Week: Trey Barrow
- The offense seemed very pedestrian at times. There needs to be improvement in the running game and the passing game needs to be opened up more.
- All the credit for this win goes to the defense, but they can be better. The bend not break was good, but I would like to see them more aggressive and attacking.
Special Teams- B
- An overall solid performance in all areas. There is some room for improvement, but a good start to the season.
- The offensive play calling seemed pretty conservative. I expected the team to be a little more fired up coming out of the gate. Defensively, again, it was a good performance, but it I would have liked to see more of an attacking style. The 3 step drops and quick passes prevented a lot of that though.
Overall Game Grade- C+
-You would have liked to have seen a more dominant performance by the Tigers in their home opener, but Miami,OH is a good team. Issues with the offense and especially the 3rd down conversions and penalties hurt the Tigers more then Miami. Definitely room for improvement coming off this win.
Up Next: At Arizona State, Friday night 9:30 PM.