The only knock against QB James Franklin this year was the level of competition. Unfortunately for Missouri, the operative word in that sentence is “was.” Franklin separated his shoulder while leading the Tigers to a victory at Georgia last week and will miss at least several weeks. Now the Tigers turn to QB2 Maty Mauk. Maintaining the A-rating will be difficult for a redshirt freshman with zero career starts. He won’t have much time to get up to speed. Missouri faces Florida and South Carolina in key SEC East games over the next two weeks.
Rest of offense: A-
Mizzou features three very talented WRs in L’Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Backham and Marcus Lucas. Franklin did an excellent job getting all three involved in the offense. How good is the Tigers offensive line? We’ll find out over the next two weeks. RBs Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough can also expect to take on bigger roles in the coming weeks. The Missouri offense ranks eighth in points per game.
Again, lack of competition comes into play. Missouri’s defense did show up in a big way at Georgia, holding the Bulldogs to a season-low 26 points and forcing four turnovers. DE Michael Sam has turned into a star. The Tigers need to improve in the secondary, especially if CB E.J. Gaines misses any time with a quad injury. They rank last in the SEC in pass defense and 12th in total defense. However, Missouri leads the conference with 15 takeaways, including 13 INTs.
Coach Gary Pinkel went from the hottest seat in the SEC to a 6-0 record and a chance to win the division. There’s still plenty of work to do for the suddenly front-running Tigers, but every fan in Columbia would have happily signed on for a 6-0 start including a win at Georgia.
Offensive Spotlight: RB Marcus Murphy
Missouri has so many offensive weapons that it’s difficult to choose just one. However, Murphy’s 36-yard TD run against Georgia showed that he might be the team’s biggest home-run hitter. Murphy has fewer rushing yards and carries than Hansbrough or Josey, but averages a staggering 8.8 yards per carry.
Defensive Spotlight: LB Kentrell Brothers
Sam and Gaines get all the recognition, but Brothers is slowly developing a reputation for himself as well. Last week Brothers recorded 10 tackles, including 1 TFL, and an interception in the win at Georgia.
CB E.J. Gaines is considered questionable with the quad injury he suffered Saturday at Georgia. Gaines is arguably the Tigers’ most valuable defensive player. The Tigers rank dead last in the conference in passing defense, so they really need Gaines to be healthy for their most important stretch of the season…
Coach Gary Pinkel disputes reports that QB James Franklin will miss the remainder of the season. Pinkel told the Tiger Quarterback Club that his senior quarterback is expected to miss 3-5 weeks.