In front of a sun-drenched (and likely sunburned) crowd of 64,000, the Missouri Tigers had little trouble fending off the FCS SEMO Redhawks in route to a 34-3 season-opening victory Saturday.
“We’ve got to get better, and we know that.” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said after the game. “Enjoy it, then get back to work.
So what can Mizzou fans take away from week 1?
- There’s a storm coming… The Drew Lock hype is not going away any time soon. the heralded recruit from Lees Summit, MO burned his redshirt in the first half of the game and immediately led a scoring drive. Then, after taking over for Maty Mauk once again in the fourth quarter, he threw across his body to a wide open Tyler Hunt for a 78 yard touchdown, the first of his career. No one is saying Lock should replace Mauk…yet. However, the quarterback situation is something to keep an eye on throughout the season.
- New receivers? No problem. There was a lot of concern about the extreme lack of experience at the receiver position this year. 10 difference players caught a pass on Saturday and receivers Nate Brown and J’Mon Moore each caught a touchdown which will alleviate much of the perceived unsettle.
- Injury concerns. Missouri’s ground game was certainly not very effective after starting running back Russell Hansbrough was sidelined with an ankle injury. Soon after, center Evan Boehm also went down. Both players are expected back soon (if not next week) but those are two players Mizzou can ill-afford to be without. Between Ish Witter, Morgan Steward and Tyler Hunt, the Tigers only averaged 3.2 yards per carry on Saturday.
- This defense could be scary. We knew the secondary would be good but the combination of Aarion Penton and Kenya Dennis at corner is one of the best tandems in the SEC. Linebacker Kentrell Brothers was literally all over the field, notching a career-high 16 tackles. The front four, which had a lot of question marks heading in to the season, looked fantastic as well putting constant pressure on SEMO quarterback Tay Bender. The defense certainly had to carry the team during the 2014 season and if this unit is called upon to do the same in 2015, Missouri appears to be in good hands.
- Looking ahead. The Tigers go on the road to face Arkansas State next week which could prove to be a stiff road test despite the Red Wolves 55-7 season-opening loss to USC on Saturday. Future opponent BYU beat Nebraska on a last-second hail mary, but also lost its star quarterback for the season. UCONN will visit Faurot Field in two weeks time and had to hold on late to take down FCS Villanova. Future SEC foe Vanderbilt lost at home to Western Kentucky and Kentucky struggled mightily with Louisiana-Lafayette. Clearly, Mizzou will have a few “workable” spots in the schedule this season.