The Kansas City Star
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
COLUMBIA — It is halftime of Missouri’s season opener at Memorial Stadium, and the Tigers lead Murray State 30-14. Here are five quick observations.
Missouri's Russell Hansbrough, top, is hoisted in the air by teammate Mitch Morse, bottom, after he scored a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Murray State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Missouri's Braylon Webb runs downfield after he intercepted a pass during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Murray State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
1. Senior quarterback James Franklin has been sharp, for the most part. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed five times for 18 yards and did a nice job escaping pressure when the pocket broke down. He did get bailed out one play, however, when an errant pass that would have likely resulted in a pick six was dropped by a Murray State defender.
2. The Tigers’ running backs looked pretty strong in the first half. Junior Henry Josey, who was making his first appearance since a devastating knee injury in 2011, took his first carry for 12 yards and finished the half with 40 yards on nine carries. The star, however, was sophomore Russell Hansbrough, who finished the half with 104 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. One of his touchdown runs was an impressive 51-yard jaunt in which he reached the second level of the defense and raced untouched to the end zone.
3. The Tigers’ offense often pushed the tempo, trying to rip off as many plays as possible. It was a noticeable departure from last season, something the Tigers were able to do Saturday because of the lack of momentum-breaking plays. The Tigers finished the half with only one turnover, a fumble by receiver Bud Sasser, but the Tigers’ wideouts looked pretty good, as a whole. Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaleel Clark and Sasser each had four receptions apiece.
4. Missouri’s defense had a hard time containing Murray State quarterback Maikhail Miller early in the game. Miller, a transfer from Ole Miss, often hurt the Tigers by scrambling on broken plays. He racked up 75 yards on ten carries, though he was a bit inconsistent passing the ball, finishing the half 12 for 22 for 122 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It’s worth noting that after the Racers took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter, the Tigers went on a 17-0 run to close the half.
5. It was a rough half for Missouri’s special teams. Kicker Andrew Baggett had an extra point blocked and also missed a 30-yard field goal, but Baggett redeemed himself some with a 43-yard field goal that put the Tigers ahead 30-14 right before halftime.