Campus Corner

Sunday rewind | Richardson says Tigers unafraid of Georgia

Updated: 2012-09-03T00:04:19Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

Heads up: Every week during the football season, I'll post a collection of interesting news and notes to the blog the day after Missouri plays.

You probably know this by now, but junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson did his best Clubber Lang impression Saturday night, saying Georgia - MU's next opponent - plays “old-man football” and adding that nobody “can touch” Mizzou if the Tigers execute on both sides of the ball.

I came in at the end of his press huddle, right as he said “it’s about that time we show them who we are,” but Richardson had plenty more to say, so I figured I’d post his comments here, unfiltered. When reading, just tone down Clubber’s cadence by about 42 percent and you’ll accurately capture the way Sheldon said it.

(Just a quick note: some may consider his comments to be bulletin-board material, but at the end of the day, how are they any different than what T.J. Moe said during his star turn at the SEC Media Days in July? Both players have an undeniable swagger, something you absolutely need to succeed in the super-competitive SEC. Just my opinion, but I think it's good he is so confident.)

Q: Was it important to have a game like this to open the season?
A: “We could have played Alabama. It doesn’t matter. We’re coming out here everyday. We come out here every game like this, high-intensity football.”

Q: How will the speed MU showed today translate against Georgia?
A: “They (are) supposed to be fast, they (are) supposed to be (good), they (are) supposed to win the SEC — I don’t care. I do not care. They’ve got to line up and play Mizzou. And we got to line up and play Georgia. I don’t care. I don’t really care about the hype of the SEC at all. I don’t care. I feel like just because we’re switching conferences doesn’t mean this is a better conference. It is what it is. It doesn’t downgrade us at all.”

Q: Based on the teammates you talked to, do you get the sense you all feel this way?
A: “Everybody is like this, everybody is like this. Every week, day in and day out everybody is like this.”

Q: You’re not afraid to say it?
A: “It is what it is, man. It is what it is. (If) they've got a problem with it, come check me up.” 

Strong words from a strong man.

Pinkel: Franklin “OK” in opener
Much has been written about the health of James Franklin, who was hit for the first time since his offseason shoulder surgery.

He finished 13-of-21 for 131 yards and a touchdown but missed a few open receivers, something Missouri coach Gary Pinkel pointed out when asked to evaluate his performance.

“I thought he did OK,” Pinkel said. “We missed some throws. Protection broke down a few times…we’ve got to give him time to throw the football. And when he has the time, he has to make the plays, which he’s very capable of.”

Pinkel also noted that the rain – which started coming down after Missouri’s 28-0 first-quarter start – had an impact on the Tigers’ ability to pass the football, something Franklin was later asked about.

“I just had to be more aware,” Franklin said. “Get a better grip on the ball. That is something I will probably work on a little bit better next time.”

Franklin talked about the health of his shoulder after the game. In short: he landed on it a few times, it feels good and he’s excited to put the first game of 2012 behind him. He was popped a few good times Saturday and jumped right back up, so that’s a positive.

Pinkel: Kickoffs need to improve
After waging a battle for the starting placekicking job throughout the spring and summer, Lee’s Summit North grad Andrew Baggett – a redshirt freshman – earned the start on Saturday over senior Trey Barrow.

Baggett did not attempt a field goal, but did miss one of his nine extra-point attempts on the night. That did not seem to bother Pinkel, though.

“It’s his job right now,” Pinkel said.

However, Pinkel noted that Missouri must improve on kickoffs. Despite the fact the NCAA moved kickoffs up from the 30- to the 35-yard line, Baggett and Barrow combined for only two the whole game, though it should be said that Barrow had more than twice as many attempts (seven) as Baggett (three).

“What we’ll do for kickoffs, I’m not sure,” Pinkel said. “With that new rule, we’ve got to kickoff better…we’re more capable than what I saw out there today.”

Moe weighs in on the new turf
Missouri played on its brand-new FieldTurf for the first time on Saturday, and wide receiver T.J. Moe gave the lush surface a thumbs-up.

“There’s a little more give to this turf,” Moe said. “Guys were getting stuck in the old turf and they would blame their injuries on that. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but I’ve noticed (the difference) a little bit and I’ve had to get used to it because…you have an extra inch or two (in the turf) to get planted.”

Roberts praises MU’s speed
If you read my game story from Saturday, you’ll notice that a lot of it focuses on the speed differential between the two teams. Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts admitted as much in his postgame media session (which I didn’t receive in time to insert into my final game story).

“We didn’t do a good job making adjustments to their speed on the field," Roberts said. "Tackling guys in space was a huge issue.”

Roberts cringed when Missouri took a 28-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.

“On the first four plays I don’t think we even got lined up right,” Roberts said. “We just didn’t execute very well. We just told them to calm down and play some football. The speed factor was huge.”

Stats to remember
*When linebacker Zaviar Gooden and defensive end Michael Sam each returned Southeastern Louisiana turnovers for touchdowns, it marked the first time Missouri has had two defensive touchdowns in the same game since Texas Tech in 2006.

*Running back Marcus Murphy’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter marked MU’s longest punt return since Jeremy Maclin had a 75-yarder against Northwestern in 2008. Murphy also became the first Tiger in school history to return two punts for a touchdown in the same game with his 72-yard return in the fourth quarter.

Extra points
It’s hard to imagine this being 100 percent true, but Pinkel laughed off the possibility that Missouri was saving some special plays/packages for this week’s Georgia game with a pretty funny line.

“People that save things, a lot of times, they save it for the next coach,” Pinkel said. “I’m not a big saver.”

*Pinkel noted that a number of third- and fourth-teamers got to play a lot, which is obviously a good thing.

“We got to play a lot of people today, that’s so valuable for our program,” Pinkel said.

*Pinkel praised the performance of senior running back Kendial Lawrence, who rushed 10 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns, adding that Lawrence’s strong effort didn’t surprise him “because that’s how he’s been playing and practicing.”

*Senior middle linebacker Will Ebner left the game with a stinger, but Pinkel said it’s unrelated to the more severe neck problem he had a few years ago. A team spokesman said senior left tackle Elvis Fisher, who appeared to limp off the field at one point, is fine.

*ESPN announced Sunday that it will be sending its College GameDay crew to College Station next Saturday, where Texas A&M while be making its SEC debut against Florida. The decision obviously eliminates the possibility of the crew showing up in Columbia for Missouri’s SEC debut against Georgia.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

 

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