5 takeaways from Mizzou's win over Toledo
Mizzou did a lot of good things against Toledo, but there were some head-scratching decisions and plays as well. Here are my five takeaways.
1. James Franklin gives you your best chance to win and every important snap should go to him. When the ball is in a healthy James Franklin’s hands good things happen for Mizzou. Against Toledo he was the team’s leading rusher on a day when the running game just didn’t have it. When Toledo stacked the box he found the open receiver. Mizzou’s touchdown drives against Toledo chewed up yardage totals of 74, 75, 75 and 44 yards. The Tigers converted 9 of 15 third downs. All of this speaks well to Franklin’s abilities as your senior starter.
2. Maty Mauk does not give Mizzou its best chance to win right now. When the redshirt freshman came in for a series early in the second quarter, it was head scratching to say the least. Mauk was sacked twice and went backwards 17 yards. I understand Pinkel wants to get him experience, but leave that for garbage time, not when your team is up just a touchdown. This game was not a gimme by any means and Toledo could have easily scored two more touchdowns. In the postgame presser Pinkel indicated he intends to make guest appearances by Mauk a consistent piece of the Mizzou game plan. I feel like this is a bad idea for several reasons. 1. Mauk will put a ton of pressure on himself to perform in his one series a game because he knows it is all he gets, which could lead to forcing things. You are asking him to sit on the bench for a quarter and then come in cold and perform for one drive and then get back off the field. It is not fair for either Franklin or Mauk and could wreak havoc on Mauk’s psyche and fan opinions of him. 2. It disrupts the offensive flow. 3. Say he does do well and Franklin struggles a bit. This could create the unnecessary distraction of a quarterback controversy. Franklin was named the starter. Let him play like it. Mauk’s time will come.
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3. Dorial Green-Beckham was born to catch footballs. This was my first time seeing him extensively play in person and I came away impressed as he caught five balls for 51 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came on a fade to corner of the end zone. Anytime Mizzou is in the red zone and DGB is covered one-on-one, this should be the first play the Tigers dial up.
4. Finding defensive consistency will be a key for Mizzou. The Mizzou defense was boom or bust on Saturday. The Tigers had great bend-but-don’t-break stands by holding Toledo to three first-half field goals when it could have been worse. The Tigers also picked off three balls including a pick-six by defensive lineman Markus Golden. Then there is the flip side where Mizzou was outgained in yards 387 to 384. Also, the defensive line needs to step up and get pressure on the opposing quarterback. Through two games, Mizzou’s defensive linemen have as many sacks (1) as interceptions returned for touchdowns (1). Murray State and Toledo aren’t exactly bringing an SEC offensive line to the party either.
5. They have to play smarter. There were many questionable decisions by players throughout the game. James Franklin many times would seek out contact when running the ball instead of taking the safe route of sliding. By his own admission after the game, he must be smarter about this and pick his spots. This is especially true with his injury history. Golden had his pick-six, but was called for excessive celebration. This led to a penalty that pushed the kickoff back and allowed Toledo one of its two kickoff returns for the day. This one was taken back to the Mizzou 38 and led to a touchdown. Golden’s celebration cost Mizzou any momentum it might have gained. Shortly before Golden’s pick-six, the leader of the defense in linebacker Andrew Wilson was ejected for targeting. Wilson must now miss the first half of the Indiana game in two weeks. These mistakes add up against SEC foes.