Missouri looks to improved to 2-0 all time against Murray State when the Tigers face the Racers in their season opener on Saturday evening at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field.
In its second season in the Southeastern Conference – wildly regarded as the best in college football – the Tigers are attempting to bounce back from an injury-marred 5-7 season in 2012.
Missouri football is 627-523-52 all time, good for a 54.3% winning percentage, in its 122 years of existence. The 627 all-time wins ranks Mizzou 34th in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) history entering the 2013 season
Murray State finished 5-6 while competing in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2012.
In their one previous meeting, Missouri topped Murray State 47-7 on Sept. 2, 2006. That game marked the first career start for quarterback Chase Daniel, who through for 320 yards and five touchdown passes in the win.
THE PLAYERS — MISSOURI
Saturday’s starter at quarterback for the Tigers will be James Franklin, the senior from Corinth, Texas, who was named to the O’Brien and Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch Lists for 2013-2014. Franklin is coming off an injury-plagued season in 2012 that saw him suffer injuries to his head, shoulder and knee. He was one of the top duel-threat quarterbacks in the nation in 2011, amassing 3,846 total yards of offense and leading Missouri to victory in the Independence Bowl.
Also returning from an injury-raddled 2012 is star running back Henry Josey. Josey rushed for 1,200 yards in just 10 games as a sophomore in 2011. He led the Big 12 in rushing and ranked fifth nationally at the time of is injury. He missed all of 2012, and his return is a welcomed boost to Coach Pinkel’s potentially dynamic offense.
Speaking of dynamic, prized wide receiver recruit Dorial Green-Beckham returns to the Tigers spread a year older and wiser. The sophomore was widely regarded as the nation’s number one recruit in 2012, when he chose Missouri over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Springfield, Mo., native has been named to the Bilentnikoff Award Watch List and Preseason All-SEC Third Team prior to this season. The 6’6, 225 pound Green-Beckham led the Tigers with five touchdown receptions as a freshman.
Senior defensive back E.J. Gaines will lead the defense. With cat-like anticipation skills, impressive foot speed and a nose for the ball, Gaines was his reliable self in 2012, leading Missouri with 11 pass breakups and recording 12 tackles in the win at UCF. Gaines earned First Team All-Big 12 recognition at cornerback in 2011, and was named to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team this summer.
Lining up in front of Gaines will be senior Andrew Wilson. The linebacker led Missouri in tackles the past two seasons, recording 79 stops in 2012.
After Tiger defenses make their stops, it will be up to return-man extraordinaire Marcus Murphy to gain field position. Murphy earned Second-Team All-America honors from Sports Illustrated in 2012 after posting 1307 total yards and four touchdowns. The speedy Murphy, from DeSoto, Texas, was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by Sports Illustrated and Preseason All-SEC by conference coaches.
Maikhail Miller – The sophomore transfer from Mississippi earned the starting quarterback job out of camp over junior Parks Frazier. Miller is a duel-threat who threw for 1,636 yards and rushed for 1,148 yards (36 total touchdowns) as a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi.
Murray State’s roster features three players from the state of Missouri. All three players are from the St. Louis area and include senior wide receiver Walter Powell (Hazlewood East), junior wide receiver Nevar Griffin (McCluer North) and sophomore wide receiver Paul Rice (Gateway Tech).
MISSOURI – GARY PINKEL
With his 163 career wins in 22 seasons as a head coach, Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel enters the 2013 season ranked ninth among active FBS coaches. Pinkel has a career record of 163-98-3 all-time (62.3%), including a 73-37-3 record (64.6%) in 10 years at Toledo (1991-2000) and 90-61 (59.6%) in 12 years at Missouri. Pinkel has led Missouri to a combined record of 68-36 over the past eight seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He led Missouri to a number one national rank in 2007.
MURRAY STATE — CHRIS HATCHER
A former Division II National Player of the Year, Hatcher has garnered an overall record of 112-42 in his 13 years as a head coach. His wide-open style offense, known as the “Hatch Attack,” has bolstered three of the top five passing offenses in school history and set 21 single-game records in his tenure, which started in 2009. However, the executor of many of Hatcher’s game plans, Casey Brockman, was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in April. Hatch Attack will have to work under a new quarterback in 2013.
WITH A TIGER VICTORY
Missouri would start 1-0 for the 12th straight season, improving Pinkel to 12-0 in his last 12 season openers.