Missouri anxious to get back on field today vs. Murray St.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The last image people saw of Missouri football was the Tigers getting blitzed on national TV by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and their former Big 12 friend Texas A&M.
The 59-29 loss secured the Tigers’ first losing season since 2004 and ended one of the more forgettable seasons in recent memory.
“We were just disappointed with what happened last year and especially with the defense in that last game, so we are definitely playing with a chip on our shoulder,” linebacker Andrew Wilson said.
The long wait is finally over as the Tigers kick off the 2013 season against Murray State at 6 p.m. today at Faurot Field. (Televised on pay-per-view channels on various cable systems; see end of article for details.)
“It wasn’t exactly the season we wanted, so we’re coming back to definitely avenge ourselves,” Gaines said.
So after a tough season comes changes, albeit slight ones.
Today will be the debut of new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, who was promoted after David Yost took a job in the offseason at Washington State.
There has been talk of some subtle changes to the offense, possibly using more sets with tight ends or running more plays under center. However, Missouri quarterback James Franklin said the offense is pretty similar to last season.
The day also bring a new season for Franklin. He’s looking to prove he can get back to the form that made him one of the top quarterbacks in 2011 after an injury-plagued 2012 season.
“Really just trying to focus on being smart and winning some games,” Franklin said.
Franklin and the entire offense should benefit from a healthy offensive line. After having to shuffle players in and out of the lineup all year, the line is 100 percent healthy heading into the season.
The Tigers averaged 138 yards per game on the ground behind a patchwork line last season. The return of junior running back Henry Josey from a knee injury should help, but the line still felt like it was to blame for some of the problems.
“We went into this offseason with a bitter taste in our mouth,” offensive lineman Max Copeland said. “We trained angry. We were angry. We were dissatisfied. We think we deserved better than what we gave ourselves. Now it’s time to get what we deserve.”
If history is any indication, the Tigers shouldn’t have too many problems with Murray State, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision. Under Pinkel, Missouri is 9-0 against FCS teams, outscoring them by an average of more than 40 points per game.
The Racers, who have made a name for themselves on the basketball court in recent years, were just 5-6 last season. That included a 69-3 loss against Florida State in their only game against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Missouri defeated Murray State 47-7 in 2006, Chase Daniel’s first year as Missouri’s starting quarterback.
The Racers do sport all-American receiver Walter Powell, a graduate of Hazelwood East, who caught 94 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He also had two punt returns for touchdowns.
“He is a very quick athlete, not only as a receiver but punt returner and a kick returner,” Pinkel said. “He can touch the ball and change the game. Very impressive.”
But today will be less about what Murray State brings to the table, and more about moving forward after how last season ended.
“I’ve definitely got a chip on my shoulder from last year and definitely a sour taste from last year,” Gaines said.
Added Copeland: “We’re ready to go, man. It’s time to quit pretending we’re playing football and play football.”
Notes: With temperatures expected to be in the upper 90s today, fans will be allowed to bring in one unopened bottle of water. There will be water-jug stations set up around the stadium for fans to refill bottles. No glass is permitted in the stadium. ... The pay-per-view telecast of the game is on various cable TV systems, including Standard Definition (SD) Channel 181 on Mediacom, Channel 9001 on CenturyLink, SD Channel 787 or High-Definition Channel 787-1 on DirecTV, and Channel 460 on Dish. See pay-per-view channels for others.
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