The Missouri Tigers have traditionally been a program that promotes the use of a typical drop-back style quarterback. However, with the recent success of teams that have gone to the duel-threat type QB many schools have changed their recruiting tactics to find that type of player. Fortunately for the Tigers they managed to steal James Franklin right out from underneath all of top ranked schools in Texas. Missouri has had some of the best passers in college football over the last few years with players like Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, but NCAA football experts know that having a quarterback that can run the ball as well as throw it gives an offense a huge advantage which is why the Tigers are ranked 21st in the country.
Franklin began his college career with a solid game against the Miami Ohio Redhawks. He passed for just 129 yards, but his completion percentage was above average at 65%. It’s obvious that he still needs time to get acclimated the speed of the college game as he was sacked twice and threw 1 interception. Friday night’s game against an up and coming Arizona St Sun Devils squad will leave Franklin with far less room for error. Many PAC-12 football predictions have the Sun Devils finishing towards the top of the conference this season, and an upset win on Friday would not only get them on everyone’s radar, but possibly put them into the top-25 in the country.
Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler looks to be under control and far more confident this season under center. He has a strong throwing arm and a bunch of talented receivers to get the ball to. Cameron Marshall is a small yet elusive running back that is also a threat catching the ball. In last Saturday’s 48-14 thumping of UC Davis, Marshall rushed for 2 touchdowns and caught 4 passes for 86 yards. He could be a huge part of ASU’s offense this year, and will need to step up big against the improved Missouri defense tonight.
Tiger’s head coach Gary Pinkel has gone through of his share of tough losses, and somewhere along the way he realized that just having an explosive offense wasn’t enough. While Missouri’s offense has dropped down from a 40+ point average to around 30, they have more than made up the difference on the defensive side of the ball. There are 8 returning starters from last year’s defense that allowed just 16 points per game. Giving up 16 points per game may not be sufficient for a team like Oklahoma or Texas, but this was a huge decrease in points allowed from the previous 2 seasons at Missouri. The one glaring issue that the Tigers face this season is their ridiculously tough schedule. Having to play Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech this year will make it nearly impossible for this “D” to repeat last year’s dominance. That doesn’t mean that they can’t win a few of those games and finish the year in the top-25, but it makes it much less likely.
Neither team will be looking past this game as both understand how important out of conference games can be. It will be interesting to see which team is closer to getting to the next level. Don’t assume that Missouri will have an easy game because they are ranked. The Sun Devils are on the cusp of getting this program back to prominence, and a win on Friday would certainly put them well on their way. Tune in as the Tigers and Sun Devils face off in a match-up of BCS conference schools.