COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri wants to play fast on offense. The question is, how fast? And how fast is too fast?
Missouri showed glimpses of its somewhat revamped offense during Saturday's 58-14 blowout of Murray State at Faurot Field.
Of note was the tempo on offense. Missouri ran 56 offensive plays in the first half, a sign they want to waste no time getting down the field.
"It's a weapon," Missouri offensive linemen Max Copleand said. "We use tempo as a weapon, but we also have to execute. It's not enough to be fast, you have to be fast and good. Fast and sloppy is just sloppy."
For the most part, Missouri was fast and good. The Tigers had just one turnover while racking up 694 yards of total offense. It was a good balance too. Missouri ran for 358 yards and passed for 336 while running 42 passing plays and 43 running plays.
"Tempo definitely helps," Missouri quarterback James Franklin said. "It can tire out the defense."
Missouri clearly wants to score, and score quickly. The Tigers' first scoring drive took all of 44 seconds. The next one was a cool 55 seconds. The third one? A whopping 30 seconds.
Missouri ran an offensive play nearly once every 25 seconds in the first half. The offense slowed down in the second half with the score out of hand as many reserves saw action.
"No. 1 priority is just execution," Copeland said. "And then on top of execution is being fast. That's our edge there. We're well-trained, well-conditioned. We're going to use that to our advantage."
That may be all well and good during a game against Murray State. But can the Tigers keep up that torrid pace for an entire game?
This week's game against Toledo may be more of an accurate measuring stick of how fast Missouri can play.
"I really believe we're going to play even faster," Copeland said.
That remains to be seen, but what does help Copeland's case about a torrid pace is Missouri's depth at receiver this season. Seven different receivers caught at least two passes last week and Missouri's receiving corps is considered one of the deepest positions on the team.
"We can rotate in, keep fresh legs," receiver Darius White said. "That's what's helping everybody out a lot."
Last season Missouri ran an average of just more than 72 plays per game. Marshall led the NCAA in plays per game at 92.8. California ran 103 plays in its loss Saturday to Northwestern.
"The tempo thing worked well in the first half, then we kind of backed off ," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said.
Missouri did not run the jet sweeps or receiver handoffs that were common in Missouri's offense the last few seasons and Missouri's tight ends were attached most of the game. Franklin ran the ball just six times for 50 yards. He's expected to see fewer runs this season.
But the biggest wrinkle on offense for Missouri seemed to be how fast are they willing to play. Is the sky really the limit?
"It felt really good when we're practicing that, we're just trying to get it better," Franklin said.