The Missouri Tigers opened the 2011 season with a 17-6 win over the Miami-Ohio Redhawks on a hot 100 degree day in Columbia, Mo. Keep this in mind about the game. One, Miami is a pretty good team, much better than the one that was here last season. Two, the Tigers have some work that needs to be done, but it’s all correctable.
My biggest concern are the injuries that are starting to mount. Not only was the offensive line missing two of it’s starters, but the defense took a hit. Defensive end Jacquies Smith suffered a dislocated elbow and linebacker Will Ebner has a high ankle sprain that could keep him out for an extended period of time.
All eyes were on James Franklin and there is no doubt, he can use his legs to move out of trouble and take off on designed runs. He finished with 72 net yards on 14 carries. As the game progressed, so did his comfort level with throwing the football. He threw behind receivers, over shot Michael Egnew on a potential touchdown and threw an ill-advised pick into double coverage deep in Mizzou territory that led to Miami’s only score.
What I liked was that Franklin came back in the fourth quarter of a 10-6 game and drove the Tigers down for another touchdown, checking down off two receivers and finding his third option, sophomore Marcus Lucas, through a crowd for a 10 yard touchdown. Franklin finished 17 of 26 for 129. He gave himself a C-.
The defense got called for a couple of late hits and missed on a couple of third down conversions that extended drives, but they came up big when they needed. They forced a FG attempt on Miami’s first drive with the kicker shanking a 39 yarder to the left. E.J. Gaines came up big with an interception in the end zone killing another drive. The only score the Redhawks got came on the short field.
Franklin was 4 for 5 for 30 yards and carried four times for 44 yards, capped by a five yard touchdown run with 4:23 to play in the first. The drive covered 11 plays, 76 yards, 4:12 T.O.P.
After another poor punt from Miami-Ohio, the Tigers tacked on a 38 yard field goal from Grant Ressel. Franklin missed Michael Egnew on a third and five. If he didn’t overthrow Egnew, it would have been a 20 yard touchdown. That came with 5:59 to play in the first half. It covered 7 plays, 35 yards, 2:30 T.O.P.
Franklin picked off by Miami-Ohio at the Mizzou 16. Redhawks get a 10 yard touchdown run from Erik Finklea with 7:55 to play in the third. The extra point was missed.
Franklin redeemed himself with a nice 28 yards completion to T.J. Moe, then hit Marcus Lucas, the Liberty, MO. Native on a 10 yard pass in tight coverage for a touchdown to put Mizzou up 17-6 with 14:55 to play. It covered 5 plays, 42 yards, 1:11 T.O.P.