Mizzou Tramples ASU 52-20

The Tigers were a study in contrasts Saturday. On one hand, they were a swaggering offensive juggernaut, running and passing almost at will. But on the other hand, the Tigers employed a sagging zone defense that allowed Arkansas State to complete passes and rack up over 400 yards of offense.

While Missouri's first team defense had dominated its offensive counterpart for most of the fall practices, the tables turned in the season opener.

It was Mizzou's offense that rumbled and rolled, scoring on every possession with the exception of one punt and two turnovers.

It was not surprising that junior Brad Smith was the ring leader of the offensive explosion. Smith threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 63 yards on six carries, and another score.

Smith, who arguably had his best passing night as Tiger, completed 14 of 22 pass attempts for three touchdowns and one pick.

For those who wondered what life would be like for the Tigers during the post-Zach Abron era, it appears the Tigers are in fine shape, thank you. Damien Nash rushed 15 times for a career-high 126 yards and scored twice, while redshirt freshman Marcus Woods added 63 yards of his own in spot duty.

Mizzou's receiving corps, which has been singled out for many of the Tigers' struggles from last season, was very productive vs. the Indians. Both of MU's top tight ends, Martin Rucker and Victor Sesay, caught touchdown passes. Junior Sean Coffey caught five passes for 113 yards and a beautiful soaring 60-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter.

While Missouri had much to feel good about offensively, it should be noted that Arkansas State started five freshmen on defense, while MU started two freshmen of their own on the offensive line. How did Adam Spieker and Tyler Luellen do in their first college game? There were no bad snaps, no false starts, and generally good blocking technique from the youngsters.

If Mizzou showed vulnerability Saturday night, it was in the defensive zone. The Tigers' "Cover Two" defense looked like it the team expected a series of Hail Marys to be coming their way. The safeties played very soft, and allowed Arkansas State quarterback Nick Noce plenty of space to play catch with his receivers.

Noce was 19-for-26 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and one interception before leaving with a cramp in his leg in the third quarter. His replacement, Devin Hollins, was 7-for-11 for 110 yards.

Mizzou surrendered a staggering 438 yards of offense to ASU.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening came when nose tackle Phil Pitts intercepted one of Noce's screen passes and bolted 49 yards down the sideline to give Mizzou a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Pitts credited Atiyyah Ellison with throwing the critical block that allowed him to live the ultimate lineman's dream...an interception followed by a touchdown!

Turnover Watch Mizzou gave up the ball twice on Saturday night: the first on Smith's first-quarter interception and the second on a second-quarter fumble by Marcus Woods, his first collegiate carry.

It's Good to Know Joe

The Tigers appear to have a field goal kicker! Junior walk-on Joe Tantarelli was perfect in his kicking duties Saturday night. Tantarelli converted all of his extra point attempts, as well as a chipshot field goal in the closing seconds.

Kicking Excellence Part II

Adam Crosett performed his specialty to perfection as well. Crosett, the Tigers kickoff specialist, routinely buried his kicks into the endzone or, at least inside the five yard line.

Helicopter's Shirt Goes up in Flames

That's a colorful way of saying that true freshman William Franklin, the highly touted wide receiver from Vashon High School in St. Louis, saw action in the second half, making one reception. As Gary Pinkel had indicated before the season started, MU plans to use Franklin extensively this season, and in a variety of ways.

Starters Get Some Rest

Brandon Coleman replaced Smith, and other wholesale substitutions occurred last night in the fourth quarter. The starters will appreciate the rest considering they have a Thursday night game awaiting them in Troy, Alabama this week against Troy State.

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