Game On: Tigers Ready For the Challenge

James Franklin, who was 2-of-2 for 46 yards as a backup vs. Miami last year, makes his Mizzou debut as the starter this weekend.

James Franklin, who was 2-of-2 for 46 yards as a backup vs. Miami last year, makes his Mizzou debut as the starter this weekend.

Aug. 29, 2011

Miami (Ohio) RedHawks at #21/#21 Missouri Tigers

   The Missouri Tigers, coming off a 10-3 season, are ready to kick of the 2011 season, and they'll do so at home this Saturday, Sept. 3rd against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks. Kickoff is set for 11:10 a.m. (central time), and the game will be televised live on FOX Sports Net.
   During the off-season, Mizzou's mantra has been "1-0 ... Accept the Challenge." That phrase was plastered on virtually every team handout, posted all over the training complex, and wrist bands were handed out to everyone from players to staff. All of that focus leads them up to this game Saturday, as they look to justify their #21 national pre-season ranking in both major polls.
   They'll face a good test in Miami, which went 10-4 a year ago and won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. It marked an incredible turnaround, as Miami had gone just 1-11 in 2009, and they became the first team in NCAA history to go from double digit losses to double digit wins in one season.

   The Missouri Tigers begin play in the brand-new Big 12 Conference having enjoyed an uprecedented run of success, with a school-record 40 wins over the last four seasons, including three 10-win seasons (representing three of the four alltime double-digit win totals in school history).
   Head Coach Gary Pinkel enters his 11th season on the Tiger sideline, and carries a record of 77-49 in 10 seasons at Mizzou, and 150-86-3 overall in 20 seasons. He stands third on Mizzou's alltime coaching wins list, and is only 24 wins shy of the record of 101 by Hall of Fame Coach Don Faurot (101-79-10 from 1935-42, 46-56).
   Mizzou enters the 2011 season with a very experienced team which includes 17 returning starters, including eight on offense, eight on defense and one of the nation's top kickers in senior PK Grant Ressel.


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KICKOFF: 11:10 a.m. CT.

STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (71,004 - FieldTurf surface). Opened in 1926. MU is 256-167-20 there alltime and has won 29 of its last 34 overall and is 39-10 there since 2003 (6-0 in 2010).

RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), Howard Richards (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at Also on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 113).

TV: FOX Sports Net. Bill Land (Play-by-Play), Dave Lapham (Analysis) & Jim Knox (Reporter) will call the action.

RANKINGS (AP / Coaches):
   MU - 21st / 21st.
   MIAMI - NA / NA.

SERIES: Mizzou leads, 1-0, winning 51-13 in 2010 in the first-ever meeting between the schools.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, `75), 77-49 at MU (11th year) and 150-86-3 overall (21st year). Pinkel is 4-3-1 vs. Miami and 0-0 vs. Don Treadwell.
   MIAMI: Don Treadwell (Miami, `82), 0-0 at MU (1st year) and overall.

   Here's a few points of highlight for the Tiger offense in 2011:

  • Mizzou returns 8-of-11 starters from an offense which ranked 35th in the NCAA in 2010 in total offense (409.62 ppg). Three-of-five starters on the offensive line return, including two-year starters Dan Hoch (RT) and Austin Wuebbels (RG) and 1-year starter Jayson Palmgren (LG). Those three have a combined 64 career starts among them, and they will be a key to providing protection for a first-year starter at QB. The Tigers were dealt a serious blow in pre-season camp, when returning three-year starting left tackle Elvis Fisher was lost for the season due to a ruptured patellar tendon in his left leg. Fisher had started every game at left tackle the previous three years, protecting the blindside of current NFL quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, and his 40 career starts of experience will undoubtedly be missed. Expected to fill his void is talented redshirt sophomore Justin Britt, who saw action in all 13 games a year ago at various spots on the line...
  • Other than former QB Blaine Gabbert (who was the #10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by Jacksonville), every other skill position player on offense returns from 2010, including every reception and receiving TD from a year ago, and every non-Gabbert rushing yard and rushing TD from a year ago...
  • True sophomore QB James Franklin is the next in line to take over the reins from Gabbert, as he won the top spot on the depth chart after spring ball, and secured the starting job this fall. Franklin isn't without game experience, as he played in 10 games a year ago, and he completed 11-of-14 passes for 106 yards and 1 TD (w/1 INT), while rushing for 106 yards and 2 TDs, including a game-clinching TD run to help beat #1-ranked Oklahoma in the fourth quarter...
  • The Tigers' stable of receivers is deep, talented and experienced, as every reception, and every receiving yard and score return from a year ago. Leading the charge is junior WR T.J. Moe, who led Mizzou and ranked 9th in the nation in 2010 with 92 receptions for 1,045 yards and 6 TDs. Senior TE Michael Egnew was a consensus 1st-Team All-American (the third Tiger TE since 2007 to be 1st-Team All-American) for a season that saw him lead the nation's tight ends with 90 receptions. He had 762 receiving yards and 5 TDs. Other returning starting receivers include senior Wes Kemp (39 receptions, 420 yards, 3 TDs in 2010) and senior Jerrell Jackson (50-656, 3 TDs)...

   Some news and notes concerning Mizzou's defensive outlook for 2011:

  • Mizzou brings back what coaches consider to be eight returning starters from 2010, when the Tigers led the Big 12 Conference and ranked 6th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 16.08 points per game (the lowest per game total allowed by a Mizzou defense since 1981 (13.3 ppg). Included in that figure of eight is junior CB Kip Edwards, who didn't actually start in 2010, but he played just as much in a three-man rotation with departed starters Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, so Tiger coaches consider Edwards a starter. Also coming back for a fifth-year of eligibility is LB Luke Lambert, who missed all but four games due to a season-ending knee injury. Lambert has 18 career starts under his belt, and is considered a returning starter as well, bringing the total to eight...
  • The Tiger defensive line looks to be the strength of the unit, and that's saying something, as it lost the services of star DE Aldon Smith, who left after just two years in the program and in April became the #7 overall pick in the NFL Draft to San Francisco. Junior DE Brad Madison, who was a 2nd-Team All-Big 12 selection in 2010 despite the fact that he wasn't a starter, is the lead candidate to replace Smith's production. Madison led Mizzou in 2010 with 11.0 TFLs and 7.5 QB sacks. Senior DE Jacquies Smith is a pre-season candidate for the Lombardi Award and is on numerous pre-season 1st-teams after he had 10.0 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions a year ago. Also back are starting senior run stuffers DT Terrell Resonno and NG Dominique Hamilton. Resonno earned honorable mention All-Big 12 acclaim a year ago, and Hamilton was likely on his way to a breakout year before suffering a broken leg that ended his season in game number seven against Oklahoma. Sophomore DE Michael Sam returns after winning 2nd-Team Freshman All-American honors in 2010 after notching 24 tackles, 7 TFLs and 3.5 QB sacks...
  • The linebacking corps loses 1st-Team All-Big 12 performer Andrew Gachkar (a 7th-round NFL Draft pick to San Diego), but four others with starting experience return to the fold, including junior Zaviar Gooden, who led MU with 85 tackles a year ago and is on the pre-season watch list for several awards. Also back is senior Will Ebner, who started 8 games in 2010 (he's got 15 career starts), as well as senior Luke Lambert (18 career starts) and sophomore Andrew Wilson, who made 3 starts in 2010 as a freshman. Lambert missed all but 4 games in 2010 due to knee and hamstring injuries, but was awarded a fifth year of eligibility for 2011...
  • At cornerback, Mizzou loses a pair of proven performers in Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, who were four-year and two-year starters, respectively. While they'll surely be missed, Tiger coaches are confident that the young talent coming up in the ranks is ready to keep things going on the upward tick. The hopes start with junior Kip Edwards, who coaches consider to be a returning starter, even though he didn't technically make any starts in 2010. That's because Edwards played nearly as much as either Gettis or Rutland, as he came in during passing situations, and was the first one off the bench to sub for either starter to keep them fresh in a three-man rotation. Edwards was very productive, as he made 36 tackles in 13 games, including 5.0 TFLs, 1.0 sack and six pass break ups, to go with an interception. On the other side of the field, sophomore E.J. Gaines holds down the top spot on the depth chart, after he earned significant playing time as a true freshman in 2010. Gaines made 26 tackles and broke up a pass in his first year with the program, and he earned more and more playing time as the season progressed, which gives coaches hope that he'll continue to build on that experience...
  • Senior strong safety Kenji Jackson had an outstanding 2010 season, as he became a steadying force in the secondary and played a key role in MU's overall improvement. Jackson, who is slated for his fourth year as a starter (21 career starts in all), ranked fourth on the team with 66 tackles, and he broke up three passes and was second on the team with a pair of interceptions. At the free safety position, the Tigers will look to replace departed standout Jarrell Harrison, who had 69 stops and two interceptions last year as a senior. Top candidates there include sophomore Matt White (18 tackles, 2 pass break ups in 13 games in 2010), up-and-coming redshirt freshman Braylon Webb and talented sophomore Tavon Bolden, who got 13 games of experience under his belt last season, playing more and more throughout the year while making 14 tackles in all.

   Mizzou enjoys the luxury of returning one of the most accurate and dependable kickers in the nation, as senior PK Grant Ressel will be back for a third year handling those pressure-packed duties. In the last two years, Ressel has lined up to try 132 kicks overall. He's made 127 of them, for an eye-popping success rate of 96.2% (43-of-46 FGs, 84-of-86 PATs). Accordingly, Ressel was named in July to the Lou Groza Pre-Season Watch List.
   The Tigers will be looking to replace departed punter Matt Grabner, who did an outstanding job in his only year handling the punting chores. Mizzou, thanks in large part to Grabner's efforts, ranked 14th in the NCAA in net punting (39.06 avg.) in 2010. Emerging from camp with the top spot - thanks to an outstanding and consistent performances - is junior Trey Barrow, who punted twice last year, and who also has handled kickoffs in the past.

   Mizzou and Miami will be playing for the second-straight year, with Mizzou claiming a 51-13 win in Columbia a year ago. That was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
   The RedHawks are led in 2011 by first-year Head Coach Don Treadwell, a Miami graduate (1982). Treadwell returned to his alma mater after serving the last four seasons as offensive coordinator at Michigan State, where the Spartans went to bowl games each year.
   Even with Treadwell being a first-year head coach, it won't be the first time that he and Gary Pinkel have been on opposite sidelines. Treadwell was the running backs coach at Miami in 1992 when Pinkel's Toledo squad won a 20-17 game at Miami. In 1993, Treadwell was the receivers coach at Miami when RedHawks won 22-19 at Toledo. He was also receivers coach at Michigan State in 2001, when Pinkel's Mizzou squad dropped a 55-7 game in East Lansing, Mich. to cap Pinkel's first season at Mizzou. Later, Treadwell was the offensive coordinator/receivers coach at Ball State for 2003 & 2004 games with Mizzou. Mizzou claimed both match-ups, winning 35-7 in Muncie, Ind., in 2003, and followed with a 48-0 win in Columbia in 2004.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Carl Gettis returned a fumble 19 yards for a score on the first play of the game and was among seven Missouri players getting a touchdown apiece in a 51-13 win over visiting Miami (Ohio).
   Missouri (4-0) scored on runs of 39 yards by Kendial Lawrence and 28 yards by Henry Josey while going ahead 21-0 in the first quarter. Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown pass and scored on a 1-yard sneak for the Tigers, who ended suspense immediately a week after needing a last-minute touchdown to beat San Diego State.
   Missouri finished its pre-Big 12 schedule unbeaten for the fifth straight year. The Tigers have won 21 straight non-conference games in the regular season since 2005 and won without top pass rusher Aldon Smith, out with a broken bone in his right leg.
   The Tigers were without four starters in all for the game, as Smith was joined on the sideline by starting LB Luke Lambert (hamstring), FS Jasper Simmons (knee) and WR Jerrell Jackson (thigh).
   The lone blemish was a missed extra point kick by Grant Ressel early in the third quarter, ending the school's string of 252 in a row since 2005 by three kickers. Ressel hit the right goalpost after Wes Kemp's 33-yard scoring reception for a 34-3 lead, but recovered quickly and hit a career-long 50-yard field later in the quarter.
   Armand Robinson had 10 receptions for 99 yards for Miami of Ohio, which had three turnovers in the first half and had five fumbles, losing two of them. All three turnovers led to Missouri touchdowns, starting with Gettis' tightrope walk down the left sideline after Andrew Gachkar forced a fumble on a reception by Thomas Merriweather on the first play of the game.
   Records have not been kept related to the quickest score in school history, but Mizzou officials believe the touchdown is the quickest touchdown ever scored at MU.
   Trevor Cook had two field goals for the RedHawks, including a career-long 40-yarder in the third quarter. The lone touchdown came on a 12-yard reception by Jamal Rodgers with 1:40 to go.
Missouri had five carries of 10 yards or better in the first quarter, two each by Josey and Lawrence. Michael Sam's interception gave the school eight overall, matching last season's total. T.J. Moe had seven catches for 95 yards
   Missouri had 236 yards rushing with an average gain of 6.2 yards per carry, including 63 on six carries by Lawrence, 54 yards on eight carries by Josey, 48 yards on four carries by backup Marcus Murphy and 39 yards on three attempts by De'Vion Moore.

   While Saturday will represent only the second meeting ever between Mizzou and Miami (Ohio), the Tigers have played many of the schools currently associated with the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC). Head Coach Gary Pinkel also has a history against the RedHawks, as he went 3-3-1 in 7 appearances versus them during his 10-year tenure as head coach at Toledo (1991-2000).

(BCS AQ Conferences Only)
School 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
1. Alabama 7 12 14 10 43
1. Florida 9 13 13  8 43
1. Oklahoma 11 12  8 12 43
4. Utah  9 13 10 10 42
4. Virginia Tech 11 10 10 11 42
6. Oregon  9 10 10 12 41
7. Missouri 12 10  8 10 40
7. Texas 10 12 13  5 40
7. LSU 12  8  9 11 40
7. USC 11 12  9  8 40
Non BCS-AQ League Schools:
  Boise St. 10 12 14 12 48
  TCU  8 11 12 13 44
NOTE - Ohio State has 44 wins from 2007-2010,
but they are not included in the above table
after vacating all wins from the 2010 season.

   There's no question that Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his Mizzou Football program has elevated itself to among the nation's elite. With its 10-win season in 2010, MU won its 40th game since 2007, good for an average of 10 per year during the four-year stretch.
   As it stands entering the 2011 season, MU's 40 wins since 2007 ranks as 7th-most in the nation (among BCS automatic qualifying conferences). Here's a look at the win totals among the nation's best during that time frame:

Rk. School 2009 2010 2011 Total
1. Alabama 1 2 4 7
2. Mizzou 2 1 2 5
Florida 1 3 1 5
4. Oklahoma 0 4 0 4
California 1 2 1 4
USC 3 0 1 4
7. Oklahoma St. 1 2 0 3
Rutgers 1 2 0 3
Tennessee 1 2 0 3
Georgia 2 0 1 3
Ohio St. 2 0 1 3
Baylor 1 0 2 3

   Mizzou's success on the field has definitely translated to the next level, as Tiger coaches have done an outstanding job of developing talent for the NFL. In the past three NFL Drafts (2009-11), five Tigers have been selected in the first round, a figure which is second-most in the nation and trails only Alabama (seven).
   This past April, a pair of Tiger standouts were selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, as sophomore DE Aldon Smith (Raytown, Mo.) and junior QB Blaine Gabbert (Ballwin, Mo.) were taken seventh and 10th overall, by the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.    That marked the first time in Mizzou history that two Tigers have gone in the top 10 in the same draft. Prior to 2011, Mizzou had a total of five top-10 draft picks in school history.
   Previously, WR Jeremy Maclin (No. 19 to Philadelphia in 2009) became the first Tiger to play under Gary Pinkel to become a first-round pick. He was joined in that same draft by DL Ziggy Hood (No. 32 to Pittsburgh) to mark the first time since 1977 that two Tigers went in the first round in the same draft. That feat was followed in 2010 when LB Sean Weatherspoon became the third first-rounder in two years (No. 19 to Atlanta).
   Twenty-two Tigers who played under Pinkel have now been drafted thus far, including the three taken in 2011 (LB Andrew Gachkar was a 7th-round pick by San Diego).
   The recent stretch of five first-rounders in three years is unprecedented in Mizzou history. The most comparable stretch came from 1977-81, when four Tigers were taken in the first round during that five-year period. Mizzou also had four first-round picks during an earlier six-year stretch, from 1966-71.
   Here's a look at the schools with the most first-round NFL Draft picks over the last three years (2009-11)...

Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6
Gary Pinkel 77 10 (2001-Present) 77-49 .611 7
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 11th season at MU (21ST overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 150-86-3 (63.4%).
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 55-24 (69.6%) over the past 6 seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, has a 10-year record in Columbia of 77-49 (61.1%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 49-19 in his last 68 games overall (72.1%). MU's win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 77. The win over Kansas IN 2010 was the 150th of his career.
   Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.
   In 2007, Pinkel guided the Tigers from unranked in the pre-season to a team which won a school-record 12 games and a final ranking of #4 in the Associated Press Top-25. Mizzou ascended to #1 in the BCS rankings following the regular season, and stood just one half away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game (before Oklahoma pulled away from a halftime tie to win the Big 12 title game). For his efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.
   Mizzou's bowl appearance in 2010 meant that Pinkel has led MU to 7 bowl games overall, and that is the most bowl games by any MU coach.
Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 7 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009 and 10-3 in 2010), with those representing 7 of MU's 9 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
   The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007, 2008 and 2010 represent the only football conference titles of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 - the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown. In April of 2011, Pinkel agreed to a two-year contract extension, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season.

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