Two games into the 2013 season, Missouri has averaged 48 points/game, 6.8 yards/play, and 539 yards/game. The Tigers have converted 65% of their third down opportunities, have scored touchdowns on 73% of their red-zone opportunities, and have been very well balanced between the run and the pass, with 265 rushing yards/game and 274 passing yards/game.
Through two games, Franklin has completed passes to 11 different players. Not only has there been balance between run and pass, which makes the Missouri offense very difficult to defend, but the distribution of the ball in the passing game provides even more balance, and presents an even greater challenge for opposing defenses. Coming out of the bye week, and with a couple of games under his belt, first-year Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson began to talk about Missouri’s offense.
“That’s the nice thing about our offense, about the way that James is playing right now,” explained Coach Henson, beginning to talk about the distribution of the football. “Whatever they’re giving us, he’s going to find where the defense’s weak point’s at, and he’s going to go there with the ball. And the nice thing is we’ve had guys making plays for us.”
“James” of course, is senior QB James Franklin, of whom Coach Pinkel said earlier this week, “He’s playing as well as any quarterback that we’ve had here.”
Through two games, Franklin has completed 67% of his pass attempts. He’s averaging 8.4 yards/pass attempt, and he has a passer efficiency rating of 155.11.
“He’s doing a lot of things right, right now,” said Coach Henson, speaking of Franklin. “You know, I think he’s seeing the field well. He’s seeing coverages. He’s getting the ball down the field. Then obviously, you got to see a little of it last week, when maybe they’re dropping everybody off, or things aren’t quite right, you know, or maybe protection breaks down a little, he can make some plays with his feet. He’s playing well…………………………………. He’s been very accurate………………………………………… It’s not surprising that he’s coming on and having his best year.”
In Missouri’s first two games, the Missouri offensive game plan was fairly basic, although against Toledo, we saw Coach Henson make effective in-game adjustments. He credited his senior QB, saying that James Franklin took that game over. He gave Franklin credit for much of Missouri’s third-down efficiency.
“One thing (about third-down efficiency) I think it is, is there’s a part of it is it’s just a player making a play,” explained Coach Henson. “Obviously, we’re trying to get us in the best play. You don’t always get it exactly right, what you want to be in. And sometimes, guys just make plays. James did that for us a little bit last week. You know, they were dropping guys out underneath our routes. He didn’t like it. You know, he pulled it down and made a play. So, he got us a few first downs, you know, some long yardages. So, that was nice!”
“The thing I told the guys that we’re doing well right now is we’re converting on third down,” continued Coach Henson. “And, when we get in the red zone, we’re scoring. That’s something where you take advantage of your opportunities. When you keep the ball in your hands and you give yourself more opportunities when you convert on third downs, and when you get down there, you’re scoring points. So, we’ve got to continue to do that. We’ve been good at it. We’ve got to continue to do it.”
Coach Henson went on to talk about the role of Missouri’s tight ends thus far this season. He said that we haven’t seen everything.
“Their role has changed in what they do,” explained Coach Henson, talking about the tight end position. “We’ve asked these guys to change a little bit in their role. Maybe they’re receiving numbers aren’t what you’re traditionally used to, although I think they’re going to catch more balls as we go along. Sometimes it just depends on how people are playing them.”
Coach Henson said that the way that Toledo defended, the Rockets took away some of Missouri’s tight end in the passing game.
“Right now, I think they’re pretty similar,” said Coach Henson, talking about his co-starters at tight end, Sean Culkin and Eric Waters. “You know, I really do. I think they’re both pretty good in the receiving game. I think they’re both improving in the passing game. Really, right now we don’t change anything when we have one guy in there or the other…………………………………… We’ve been rotating those guys evenly……………………………………. When they’re in there, they’re both interchangeable.”
Coach Henson acknowledged that he’s kept the tight ends in to pass protect.
“Every once in a while (they stay in),” said Coach Henson, talking about using the tight end in pass protection. “It probably depends a little bit on how teams are playing us, what type of coverages they’re playing behind their fronts during the game. Sometimes they’re going to stay in and sometimes they’re going to go out. I just think it helps us to be multiple.”