Tag Archives: Kendial Lawrence

‪Manziel shreds Mizzou defense, Texas A&M cruises to 59-29 win

By Joe Vozzelli

As Missouri players walked off the turf at Kyle Field at the end of another blowout loss, they watched as their fellow newbies in the Southeastern Conference celebrated a 59-29 win and a 10-win season.

Saturday’s game at College Station, Texas, was about two teams that went in opposite directions in their first SEC seasons. Texas A&M finished 10-2 and 6-2 in the conference, is ranked in the Top 10 and may go to a BCS bowl game.

Missouri finished under .500, failed to win consecutive games — something that hasn’t happened since 2001 — and was never ranked in the Top 25 all year.

The frustration of missing bowl eligibility was felt by Kendial Lawrence. “The last three years I’ve been here we always went to a bowl game,” Lawrence said to the AP. “So this is tough to end this way.”

After a season of injuries, close losses and failed expectations, Missouri’s inaugural SEC season will go down as a dud.

For a brief while on Saturday, it looked like Texas A&M was in trouble.

Star quarterback Johnny Manziel lay down on the field, grabbing his left knee, as the crowd hushed to near silence.

On the previous play, Manziel escaped pressure and ran toward the right side of the field. Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines grabbed Manziel and ripped the redshirt freshman quarterback backward. Trainers rushed out to the field to tend to the player Aggies fans affectionately call “Johnny Football.” A few minutes passed before Manziel walked off the field with a slight limp.

One play later — with the trainers looking at Manziel on the Texas A&M bench — Aggies running back Christine Michael slashed through the Missouri defense for a 38-yard touchdown to give Texas A&M a 21-0 lead.

Michael’s rushing touchdown was a microcosm of the Aggies’ 59-29 victory over Missouri Saturday: it didn’t matter what Texas A&M did, the Missouri defense couldn’t stop the Aggies.

Manziel’s performance against the Tigers could be his signature game if he goes on to win the Heisman trophy next month. If Manziel does win the award, he’d be the only freshman in the 78-year history of the award to win it.

He finished the game 32-for-44 for 372 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. He also rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. His big game helped him break the Southeastern Conference record for most all-purpose yards, which was previously held by Auburn’s Cam Newton. Manziel finished the regular season with 4,600 total yards. Newton had 4,327 yards in 14 games in 2010. Manziel has only played 12 games.

“We don’t act like this is just real unusual that they scored some points,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said to the Associated Press. “It’s not. We’re talking about a great quarterback. I’m certainly disappointed we didn’t play better (but) the things he did to us, he did to a lot of people.”

Manziel missed one Texas A&M offense series — an Aggies three and out — before returning to the game. He seemed to perform better after the knee injury. With a knee brace on his left knee, he showed his ability as a duel-threat quarterback.

On one particular play at the Missouri 5-yard line, Manziel ran toward his left, escaped an attempted arm tackle from defensive end Michael Sam before making a hard cut back to the right side of the field. He unleashed a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans to give Texas A&M a 34-0 lead. After the play, Manziel saluted the raucous sellout crowd at Kyle Field.

Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC) failed to become bowl eligible, snapping a streak of seven straight bowl appearances, in what can only be described as a disastrous inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference. Missouri finished the season with a losing record for the first time since 2004; the Tigers finished 5-6 that year.

With one last shot to secure bowl eligibility, Missouri never had a chance Saturday and didn’t look anything close to the team that won three straight games against Texas A&M and two straight in College Station, Texas.

Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser started in place of James Franklin, who missed his fourth start of the season. Franklin was listed as questionable on the injury report all week after he sustained a concussion during Missouri’s 31-27 loss to Syracuse last Saturday.

Berkstresser completed 20-of-38 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. He didn’t have time to throw the ball downfield for much of the first half, choosing to go for short throws. Aggies defensive end Damontre Moore and defensive tackle Spencer Nealy pressured Berkstresser for much of the first half.

But even when Berkstresser did have time to throw, he struggled with confidence. He threw several low passes, which didn’t allow Missouri receivers to gain yards after the catch. By the time Missouri’s receivers caught the ball, Aggies defenders were on top of them and able to make easy tackles.

The Aggies jumped out to a 42-0 lead in the second quarter before Missouri made a dent in the scoring column. Senior tailback Kendial Lawrence  — the Tigers’ only consistent offensive weapon all season — plunged into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left in the first half.

The Rockwall, Texas, native reached a milestone in his final game at Missouri. He rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown to reach 1,000 rushing yards this season for the first time in his career. He finished the year with 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Berkstresser settled down in the second half when the game was all-but-over. With the Aggies leading 52-10, he completed a 74-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver L’Damian Washington. In the fourth quarter, Berkstresser scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham, the No. 1 recruit for the 2012 class according to Rivals.com, completed an up-and-down first year, which included a one game suspension after being arrested for marijuana possession in early October. He had a team-high five touchdowns this season.

Missouri’s 22 second-half points didn’t change the fact that Texas A&M was the far superior team. Missouri’s players showed that in their body language at the end of the game. They were hunched over with heads down. They looked beaten and confused.


Defensive lapses in the secondary cost Mizzou in 31-27 loss to Syracuse

By Joe Vozzelli

Missouri defenders will be having nightmares about Alec Lemon for weeks.

The Syracuse wide receiver caught 12 passes for 244 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left, in the Orange’s 31-27 victory over Missouri Saturday at Faurot Field.

With Missouri leading by three and the clock showing 31 seconds, the usually solid Missouri secondary made a costly mistake on a first-and-10 play at the Missouri 17-yard line. Lemon, who lined up on the right side of the formation, was left open. Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib lofted a pass that Lemon caught and scored without being touched by a Missouri defender. The score gave Syracuse a 31-27 lead, its first of the game and the only one it needed.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said the defense had a “mix-up in coverage.”

Missouri was supposed to check out of its zone defense and play man-on-man coverage, said cornerback Randy Ponder.

Fellow cornerback E.J. Gaines, who was the defender on the right side of the field for that play, wasn’t sure if Missouri was supposed to be in man or zone coverage, before saying “we’ll look at it tomorrow and find out what really happened.”

On the Lemon touchdown play, Gaines ran toward the middle of the field to cover the inside receiver before realizing that Lemon was left often. By the time Gaines recognized it, it was too late. Gaines ran over toward his teammates with his hands in the air, seemingly confused about the coverage mistake.

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Mizzou football squad well served by its youth

By the Associated Press

Missouri safety Ian Simon knew he had made a mistake.

For three consecutive plays in overtime, he either failed to line up correctly or properly cover a Tennessee receiver. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said he “verbally assaulted” Simon after the redshirt freshman returned to the sideline.

“I knew I’d messed up on the previous plays and I was letting the moment get to me a little bit,” Simon said. “He came to the sideline, he chewed me out a little bit, but it also calmed me back down at the same time and brought me back to earth a little bit.”

Steckel tried apologizing after the exchange but Simon wouldn’t let him and said he needed it. The safety returned to the field and broke up quarterback Tyler Bray’s fourth-down pass attempt in the fourth overtime, preventing the Volunteers from scoring and giving Missouri the opportunity to win the game with a field goal.

Redshirt freshman kicker Andrew Baggett converted from 35 yards and the Tigers won their first Southeastern Conference road game, 51-48, thanks in no small part to several young and inexperienced players.

“There’s nothing like experience,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “And you’ve got to get out there and you’re going to make mistakes. That’s how you grow.”

Sophomore receiver Bud Sasser, who entered the game with only 10 career receptions, caught two passes for 61 yards, including a leaping grab over a defender for 40 yards that set up a Kendial Lawrence’s 1-yard touchdown run three plays later.

Starting his fourth career game, Sasser said he had never been in a situation that rivaled Saturday’s four overtimes. He and junior receiver Marcus Lucas were walking along the sideline telling different groups of players to just enjoy the moment and have fun.

“This is what we come to school for, this is what we play the game for,” Sasser said. “And we want to play in big games, and here it is.”

Winning at Tennessee moved Missouri (5-5, 2-5 SEC) to within one win of extending its bowl streak to eight seasons. With a visit to No. 9 Texas A&M to finish the season, the Tigers want to secure their trip to the postseason this week at home against Syracuse (5-5, 4-2 Big East).

“Oh, it’s on our mind,” Sasser said.

Against the Orange, junior quarterback James Franklin will also likely be targeting sophomore Jimmie Hunt and freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, who combined for four touchdowns against the Volunteers.

Hunt scored the team’s fifth touchdown on special teams this season on an 87-yard kickoff return and caught his seventh career pass for a 24-yard score in the first overtime.

Green-Beckham, who arrived in the summer as one of the school’s highest-ever touted recruits, only caught seven passes in the team’s first seven games. Since then, his 14 receptions lead the Tigers. Two of those – both for touchdowns – came last Saturday.

The first occurred on Missouri’s final play in regulation, a fourth-down, 25-yard catch in the end zone. The ball was headed slightly out of bounds, but Green-Beckham utilized his 6-6, 220-pound frame to keep both feet in play.

“He’s a lot different football player right now than he was five weeks ago,” Pinkel said. “Because he’s working so hard at fundamentals and his work ethic, so on and so forth. That’s a glimpse of what he can be.”

Franklin says his young receivers are starting to lead by example, so it shouldn’t be considered all that surprising he targeted Green-Beckham for a 10-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown pass in the third overtime after the receiver dropped an identical pass the previous play.

If anyone on Missouri could spot resiliency, it would be Franklin, who completed only 2 of 8 passes for 18 yards and an interception in the first half but finished 19-for-32 for 226 yards and four touchdowns.

“Here’s the bottom line,” receivers coach Andy Hill said. “If you go do it in practice, and it’s consistent that you catch balls and run the right routes and the ball comes to you and you make the play, then the quarterback’s looking for you on Saturdays.”

James Franklin’s mistakes doom Missouri in tight loss to No. 7 Florida

By Joe Vozzelli

James Franklin had a chance to give Missouri the lead against Florida on Saturday, but the plaguing factor of the entire game ended a key Missouri drive.

With the game tied at 7 late in the third quarter, the Missouri offense had the ball at Florida 27-yard line. Franklin unleashed a pass that floated over wide receiver Bud Sasser’s head and into the waiting hands of Florida safety Matt Elam for an interception. Elam returned the ball 40 yards to the Florida 46-yard line.

Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel led the offense down the field. The Gator offense scored four plays later on a 45-yard Mike Gillislee touchdown. Gillislee caught a 5-yard screen pass from Driskel and ran 40 yards for the touchdown. Florida took a 14-7 lead entering the fourth quarter and never looked back in its 14-7 win over Missouri.

Franklin overthrew several passes throughout the game. The junior quarterback finished 24-for-51 for 236 yards and four interceptions in Missouri’s 14-7 loss to No. 7 Florida Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

Driskel finished the game 12-for-23 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s other score came on a 36-yard touchdown run from tight end Omarius Hines.

Missouri had the ball twice inside Florida territory in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Franklin’s mistakes, however, ended both drives. On one of those drives, Missouri drove the ball to the Florida 21-yard line. With 11 seconds left in regulation, Franklin overthrew a pass, which Florida safety Josh Evans intercepted in the end zone to seal the game.

True freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was Missouri’s lone bright spot offensively. He caught six passes for 73 yards and was a focal point of Missouri’s offense for much of the game.

Missouri’s only touchdown of the game came on a Kendial Lawrence 1-yard run in the second quarter. The senior tailback finished the game with only 34 yards on 18 carries for a modest 1.9-yard average.

The Missouri defense held Florida to only 14 points. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson built upon his season of dominant play on defense with six tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal; Florida was able to recover the fumble, though.

In the second quarter, Missouri linebacker Donovan Bonner forced a Gillislee fumble, which cornerback E.J. Gaines recovered. The fumble recovery gave Missouri 27 consecutive games with at least one takeaway.

Missouri (4-5, 1-5 SEC) will play Tennessee next Saturday, Nov. 10 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The Volunteers (4-5, 0-5 SEC) are coming off a narrow 55-48 win at home against Troy from the Sun Belt Conference. The game will air live on the SEC Network, kicking off at 11:21am.

Missouri will need to win at least two of its remaining three games to become bowl eligible. The Tigers have Tennessee, Syracuse and No. 16 Texas A&M left on the schedule. Missouri’s remaining home game is against Syracuse on Nov. 17.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin helps Missouri earn first SEC win

james franklin passes

James Franklin (1) eludes Kentucky defender Avery Williamson (40). Franklin entered the game in the second half, the first time he had played since being injured three weeks ago.

Story by Joe Vozzelli
Photos by Karen Mitchell

James Franklin waited patiently on the sideline for almost three quarters, knowing he could help Missouri win its first Southeastern Conference game.

For the first 40 minutes of Missouri’s 33-10 victory over Kentucky Saturday at Faurot Field, the junior quarterback watched as his replacement, Corbin Berkstresser, struggled.

Kendial Lawrence

Kendial Lawrence (4) runs through a hole created by the offensive line. Lawrence ran for 108 yards against Kentucky.

Senior tailback Kendial Lawrence said the switch at quarterback provided a spark.

“Just seeing him want to be out there and then the coaches telling him it’s OK for him to go out and play, it was a huge lift for our team,” he said.

With Franklin back in the driver’s seat, the Tigers finally notched their first SEC win.

Berkstresser was 10-for-18 for 71 yards and two interceptions in the Tigers’ homecoming game against the Wildcats. On Missouri’s opening drive of the second half, Berkstresser threw a pass, which floated over wide receiver Bud Sasser’s head and into the waiting arms of Kentucky cornerback J.D. Harmon.

Berkstresser acknowledged that it was a “bad throw.”

Making his third start at quarterback this season against Kentucky, Berkstresser was so ineffective that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel elected to switch to Franklin with 4:58 left in the third quarter and Missouri ahead 17-10.

“I’m definitely disappointed in not playing up to my ability and having to come out like that,” Berkstresser said.

Franklin sat out of Missouri’s last contest against Alabama on Oct. 13 with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The junior quarterback warmed up with the first team offense before the game, throwing 25-yard pass patterns. But he wasn’t at full speed on a run to the left in 11-on-11 pregame drills.

Pinkel had a simple explanation for why Missouri changed quarterbacks.

“We needed a play,” he said.

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Pinkel, Missouri looking for more consistency on offense

Story and photo by Joe Vozzelli

Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (15) receives a handoff from redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser (13) on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Faurot Field. Green-Beckham had 19 yards on four rushing attempts and one reception for two yards in Missouri’s 24-20 victory over Arizona State. Photo by Joe Vozzelli.

For the second week in a row, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel fielded questions about his team’s offensive woes during his weekly Monday press conference.

Pinkel had a simple answer for what’s been ailing his team offensively: third down conversions. Missouri has converted on 27.4 percent of third downs, which is the second lowest mark in the Southeastern Conference.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Missouri’s struggles to gain positive yards on first and second down have contributed to a lack of third down efficiency, Pinkel said.

“It’s a very good observation that when you give yourself third and seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, percentage wise, statistically, nationally, you decrease tremendously,” he said. “So that’s been part of our problem.”

Missouri’s third down struggles have made a noticeable impact on the scoreboard, as well. Missouri ranks tenth in the SEC in scoring offense at 27.4 points per game.

Last Saturday against Central Florida, the conversion problems continued.

The Tigers’ offense converted on one of 11 third down opportunities for the game. Central Florida also out-gained Missouri 269 yards to 149 in the first half and led 10-7 at halftime.

Missouri did score 14 points in the second half to eek out a 21-16 victory. However, seven of those points were scored on a Marcus Murphy 66-yard punt return score in the third quarter. Murphy, who was named SEC co-special teams player of the week after Missouri’s win over Central Florida, has three punt return touchdowns this season.

Wide receiver T.J. Moe said he’s looking for one thing from the Tigers’ offense for the rest of the season: consistency.

“We showed this week a little bit that we can do some things,” he said. “We just haven’t put together a lot of drives.”

Tailback Kendial Lawrence may be a factor in a more consistent Missouri offense.

Lawrence was used a lot during the second half of Missouri’s win against Central Florida. After only one carry in the first half, the senior tailback had 18 carries for 101 yards in the second half, including a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Lawrence had an explanation for the increased workload in the second half.

“It was the whole idea of establishing a run game just so we wouldn’t be one-dimensional and coming out and attacking their defense,” Lawrence said. “I think it helped during the second half of the game.”

Pinkel called Missouri’s senior tailback “a difference maker” and said Lawrence has shown consistent production in practice and games since fall camp opened in August.

“His explosiveness and quickness, and all those things are really good, Pinkel said. “A senior stood up and made some plays, and that’s what we need.”

The 5-foot-9-inch tailback showed his explosiveness on his longest run of the game in the fourth quarter. Lawrence received a handoff from quarterback James Franklin and sprinted to the right side of the field. He juked around Knights’ defensive back Clayton Geathers and scampered for 33 yards before South Florida’s A.J. Bouye tackled him at the Knights’ 10-yard line.

So, what about big, explosive plays in the passing game for Missouri?

Pinkel doesn’t think Missouri’s offensive troubles are because of an absence of big plays.

“If you can get 10, 12, 15, 18 yard plays – those are big plays,” he said. “You don’t have to have 35, 40 yards to have a big play.”

Pinkel did say that his offense has been forced to sustain longer drives this season.

“When you’re forced to have 14 play drives, and not make any mistakes, that certainly causes a lot of stress on the offense, he said.

Moe said Missouri offense has several players in the wide receiving corps, who can produce big plays.

“We’ve had a lot of big play guys,” he said. “We’ve shown what Marcus (Lucas) can do, we’ve shown a little bit of what L’Damian (Washington) can do, what Dorial (Green-Beckham) can do a little bit.”

Green-Beckham showed his big play potential on Saturday against Central Florida. The 6-foot-6-inch 220 pound wide receiver caught a pass from Franklin around midfield early in the second quarter, bounced off a Central Florida defender before gliding into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.

The No. 1 recruit in the 2012 class, according to the scouting website Rivals.com, made his first touchdown pass of the season almost look easy. He wasn’t in a full-out sprint to the end zone.

“He’s one of those guys too that when he’s running, you don’t think he’s running that fast except nobody can catch him,” Pinkel said of Green-Beckham’s touchdown.

Moe isn’t afraid to admit that the true freshman wide receiver is a much different player than he’s been at Missouri.

“Well I’ve only had one big play ever, to be honest with you. My thing was always getting a few good catches and getting in the rhythm of the game,” Moe said. “His has not so much been that way. He’s more of a big play guy than I’ve ever been, so that’s good for him.

The Tigers will have their third chance to test their offense against an SEC defense. Vanderbilt (1-3) plays Missouri (3-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field.

Tigers start slow but hold off Central Florida

Story by Peter Marek

Dorial Green-Beckham pulls in a pass on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 at Missouri’s first football practice. DGB caught his first touchdown pass as a Tiger in Missouri’s 21-16 victory over Central Florida Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 in Orlando, Fl. Photo by Karen Mitchell.

On a day when little went as planned for the Missouri offense, the Tigers outlasted the Central Florida Knights on Saturday to win 21-16 in Orlando, Fla. The win moves Missouri to 3-2 and UCF falls to 2-2 on the season.

The Tiger offense was very slow in the first half, rushing for -6 yards before halftime. The lone bright spot was freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham who scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on an 80-yard pass from quarterback James Franklin in the second quarter.

Missouri’s defense was able to hold the Knights to 10 points in the first half despite the offense only running 20 plays in the entire half. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam recorded a big sack at on the last play of the half when UCF was out of time outs. Unable to stop the clock, the Knights could not get their field goal unit on the field in time. However, the Knights still led 10-7 at the break.

The Tigers came out stronger in the second half, but still had trouble getting the ball in the end zone. Franklin put together a couple good drives in the third, yet couldn’t finish. He threw an interception to defensive back Kemal Ishmael in the UCF red zone to kill a promising drive. A few drives later, the Tigers were stopped trying to convert a pass on fourth down and 1 inside UCF territory. Franklin finished 19-30 for 257 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

The defense gave up 269 yards in the first half, but came out strong in the second half. The Knights totaled only 29 yards in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Marcus Murphy returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown to give Missouri a commanding 21-10 lead. That was Murphy’s third punt return for a touchdown this season, which gives him as many punt return touchdowns as Jeremy Maclin had in his entire Missouri career. However, on the ensuing drive, the defense allowed Central Florida to go 83 yards in five plays and cut the Missouri lead to 21-16.

With less than three minutes left in the game, cornerback E.J. Gaines forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson recovered the ball and the Tigers ran out the clock to secure a victory.

Gaines had a big game with 13 total tackles as well as a forced fumble. Richardson also stepped up for Missouri’s defense today with nine tackles and a sack.

Missouri will be back in Columbia to play Vanderbilt next Saturday, October 5 at 6 p.m.

Tiger defense helps backup Berkstresser win first game as starter

Story by Pete Marek
Photos by Joe Vozzelli

Defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson (34) and Kony Ealy (47) pursue Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Faurot Field. Richardson and Ealy combined for 13 tackles in Missouri’s 24-20 victory. Photo by Joe Vozzelli.

The Tigers’ defensive line had been putting heavy pressure on Arizona State’s quarterback, Taylor Kelly, all night and were not going to stop now. After the defensive line disrupted the offense on back-to-back plays, Kelly dropped back into the pocket and went for the end zone. Unfortunately for Kelly, Kenronte Walker, a Missouri safety, was on the other end of the pass.

“They had great pressure, always making the quarterback roll out,” Walker said referring to the defensive line.

After allowing Georgia to come into Columbia and put up 41 points in last week’s loss against the Bulldogs, head coach Gary Pinkel thought the Tigers’ defense came ready to play tonight against the Arizona State Sun Devils and adjusted his strategy accordingly.

“We felt we were going to need to win with our defense, and that’s why we made decisions from that standpoint,” Pinkel said.

Besides Walker’s game-winning interception, the Tiger’s defense made another fourth quarter stand to help preserve a 24-20 victory over the Sun Devils.

The Arizona State offense was held to only seven points until the fourth quarter. However, the Sun Devils scored the first of two fourth quarter touchdowns following a muffed punt by Tigers punt Trey Barrow. Then, after the Tigers offense failed to move the ball and kill the clock, the Sun Devils scored another touchdown. Sun Devils running back Marion Grice scored both times.

After Grice rushed for his second touchdown, however, Arizona State was not able to convert the extra point because of a bad snap. Thus, Missouri maintained its four point lead causing the Sun Devils to need a touchdown to win instead of a field goal to tie.

The Sun Devils took over the ball with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and drove ball all the way down to the Missouri 1-yard-line. Not being aided by a field goal, Arizona State had four opportunities to score the go-ahead touchdown. However, Kelly’s pass fell incomplete and Missouri took over the ball on downs.

Missouri’s defense had to play with added pressure following an announcement that quarterback James Franklin would not be the starting quarterback on Saturday. The decision was made at game time, but Franklin did not feel that he was healthy enough to play.

“He has an irritation/inflammation in his shoulder. There are no structural problems at all, absolutely none. It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play,” Pinkel said.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser was able to record his first win as the starter going 21 of 41 passing for 198 yards and an interception.

“I thought he did a lot of great things. It was a tough environment and we watched what we did with him,“ Pinkel said.

Berkstresser got Missouri’s first touchdown of the game after linebacker Andrew Wilson forced a fumble on an Arizona State punt return in the first quarter. Starting at the Sun Devils

Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (15) receives a handoff from redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser (13) on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Faurot Field. Green-Beckham had 19 yards on four rushing attempts and one reception for two yards in Missouri’s 24-20 victory over Arizona State. Photo by Joe Vozzelli.

18-yard-line, Berkstresser used four plays before running the ball into the endzone himself to record his second touchdown of the season.

Missouri’s second touchdown was set up by a huge punt return. Pinkel decided to take a play from his bag of tricks and run a reverse on a punt return. Usual punt returner Marcus Murphy caught the punt and, as he began to burst down the field, pitched the ball back to his defensive back E.J. Gaines. Gaines was finally forced out of bounds at the Arizona State 18-yard-line. Gaines may play defensive back for the Tigers, but he is no stranger to running with the ball.

“I ran out of gas, but I saw my running back days come back from high school,” Gaines said.

From there, the Tiger’s took only four plays to score as running back Kendial Lawrence rushed the ball in from seven yards away. Lawrence added another touchdown in the third quarter, this time from 1-yard away, to give the Tiger’s a 24-7 lead at the time.

Missouri is now 2-1 for the season. Next week they head to South Carolina for their first away game of the year and a battle with the Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier.

Storylines abound for Missouri’s inaugural SEC matchup

by The Associated Press

A key match-up will be quarterback James Franklin against Georgia’s defensive line.

No. 7 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Missouri (1-0, 0-0), 6:45 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Line: Georgia by 2.5
Series record: Georgia leads 1-0, won 14-0 in 1960 Orange Bowl.

Missouri totaled 48 wins in its last five seasons in the Big 12, yet there’s a perception it must prove itself worthy all over again in the SEC. This is the first step, and an overflow crowd is expected to witness a game coach Gary Pinkel said “will go down in history.” Georgia seeks to build momentum after dropping one notch in the polls following an unimpressive 45-23 opening victory over Buffalo, who was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference. Several players missed the opener due to injury concerns or disciplinary suspensions and getting some back will help Georgia.

KEY MATCH-UP: Missouri quarterback James Franklin vs. the Georgia defense
Franklin is as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm after rushing for 15 touchdowns last year. He’ll put pressure on a defense that will be without cornerback Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser, expected to serve two-game suspensions for offseason arrests. No word yet whether safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, two others suspended for the opener, will be back this week.

Georgia: Freshman tailback Todd Gurley was SEC co-freshman player of week after rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in eight attempts and returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Murray is the active SEC career leader in total offense, completions, touchdown passes and yards passing.
Missouri: Marcus Murphy was SEC special teams player of week after setting a school record with punt returns for touchdowns of 70 and 72 yards in the opener. Murphy is the backup tailback behind Kendial Lawrence, who had career bests with a 76-yard touchdown and 121 yards rushing overall. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden had a 20-yard interception for a touchdown in the opener and has an interception in each of his last three games.

NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton was Georgia QB in only meeting between schools. … Georgia has lost its last two SEC openers, both times against ranked South Carolina teams. The last time Georgia faced a school other than South Carolina in the SEC opener was in 1991. … Georgia had seven NFL draft picks last season, tying Oklahoma for second most in nation. … Missouri plays its first four games at home, where it’s 2-1 the last two seasons vs. ranked opponents including a win over No. 3 Texas in 2010. … Missouri has won five in a row. … Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is 9-2 against SEC members, including 5-1 against fellow ex-Big 12 member Texas A&M. … Tigers scored five TDs on offense, two on defense and two on special teams in opener.

Lawrence’s role on the Missouri football team key to success in the SEC

By Joe Vozzelli

Kendial Lawrence runs the ball down the sideline during the spring game on April 14, 2012.

Kendial Lawrence will carry most of the running load on Saturdays.

The 5-foot-9 inch senior will be Missouri’s starting running back this season and is really the only known commodity in the Missouri backfield. Lawrence has started five games at running back during his Missouri career. The other running backs on the Missouri depth chart haven’t made any starts at running back during their college careers.

Henry Josey, the Tigers’ only other back with starting experience, won’t play this season. He suffered a devastating knee injury last November against Texas when he tore all three of the major ligaments in his left knee — the ACL, MCL and patella tendon. Josey spent most of spring and fall camp on the sidelines or in non-contact drills.

While Josey wasn’t expected to be back this season, coach Gary Pinkel made it official during Monday’s media conference that Josey will sit out this season.

Adjusting to Southeastern Conference defenses will be part of Lawrence’s transition to the role of feature running back in the Missouri offense.

Lawrence, though, said he’s interested to see how Missouri’s spread offense stacks up against SEC defenses.

“You get a look at a different type of football (in the SEC). Coming out of the Big 12, most teams are spread,” Lawrence said. “We’re really excited because we do things a little different so we want to see how we do against these guys.”

Lawrence, however, will have to wait another week before an SEC opponent comes to Columbia. Missouri plays Southeastern Louisiana at 6 p.m. on Saturday before No. 6 Georgia plays at Faurot Field on Sept. 8.

Being the starting running back for Missouri’s home opener isn’t new to Lawrence. He was Missouri’s starting tailback for its season opener last year against Miami of Ohio. But he broke his fibula during that game and missed about a month of the season.

His injury ceded the starting role to Josey, who proceeded to have a breakout season. He ran for 1,168 yards and had nine rushing touchdowns.

Lawrence has shown glimpses of being a reliable option at running back. He ran for 106 yards in the Tigers’ 17-5 win over Texas, the game in which Josey went down with his knee injury.

Pinkel was impressed with Lawrence’s performance in fall and spring camp.

“Kendial has had a great summer,” Pinkel said. “He looks as good as he’s ever looked here.”

Lawrence said he put in a lot of effort this offseason knowing that he’d likely be Missouri’s feature back this season.

“Over the summer, I did all the little things I’ve never done before as far as doing extra reps in the weight room and extra work outs and extra running, he said. “I’ve also been watching a lot of film.”

Pinkel made it clear what type of running back fits with Missouri’s style of play.

“They have to be explosive and they have to be quick,” he said.

Lawrence has displayed some of those attributes in fall camp. During one seven-on-seven drills, quarterback James Franklin lined up with Lawrence to his right. Franklin took the snap and handed it off to Lawrence, who ran hard toward a small hole in middle of Missouri’s defensive line. Michael Sam and Matt Hoch extended their arms outward to make contact with Lawrence but both came up worth nothing but air — Lawrence was already through the hole. Pinkel blew his whistle after Lawrence gained 10 yards without being touched by a defender.

Franklin has noticed some important intangibles from Lawrence, as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of leadership and definitely a lot of playmaking, he said of Lawrence. “I think he’s done a good job of stepping up to the plate and being our No. 1 back.”