Size matters, at least with respect to Missouri’s wide receivers.
The Tigers have several perimeter targets for quarterback James Franklin, but none are bigger than 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham and 6-5, 220-pound senior Marcus Lucas. Both topped 100 yards receiving Saturday in a 45-28 win at Indiana.
It marked the first time since a 2010 Insight Bowl loss against Iowa that two Missouri wide receivers reached the century mark in the same game.
“It was awesome,” said Lucas, a Liberty graduate who caught a team-high 10 passes for 101 yards against the Hoosiers. “It was kind of cool, because it’s a personal goal for me. It was nice to do it and I want to keep doing it. It’s a part of the job and I just want to keep doing whatever it takes to help my team win.”
Green-Beckham, who caught eight balls for a team-high 105 yards, was similarly thrilled for the milestone performance in what he hopes is shaping up as a breakout season.
“That’s real big,” said Green-Beckham, who never had more than 80 yards in a game last year. “Just getting over the 100 mark or really anything close to that is real big for me. …
“It was a breakout game, but there’s still more to come. It’s only week four.”
As the top-rated recruit in the Class of 2012, Green-Beckham caught 28 passes for 395 yards with five touchdowns as a freshman. Only three games into his sophomore season, he’s already caught 17 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
The most obvious common denominator for Green-Beckham and Lucas, whose previous career-high was 88 yards on six catches against Georgia last season, is that imposing size.
“It’s an advantage,” Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “Size is an advantage. You just get the ball up in the air down the field and James is doing a nice job of putting it in the right place. They’ve made plays when we’ve thrown it to them.”
Perhaps nobody understands the matchup nightmare that Green-Beckham, Lucas and 6-4, 205-pound senior L’Damian Washington present better than the Tigers’ defensive backs.
“Most definitely, I’m glad I don’t have to go up against them in games,” 5-10 senior cornerback Randy Ponder said. “You see what happens at game time, it’s fade city. You throw a jump ball up and they’re going to go get it, like a rebound. With their size, of course they have a physical advantage.”
It also gives Franklin added confidence, especially in the red zone.
“I know I can put the ball a little bit higher than normal,” Franklin said. “Not obviously out of the stadium, but just putting it up there and making it a catchable where they can go up and get it.”
That’s what he did for Missouri’s first touchdown against Indiana.
Green-Beckham drew single coverage to the left side, so Franklin floated a pass that way. He even underthrew it a bit, but Green-Beckham reached over cornerback Michael Hunter for a leaping touchdown grab despite momentarily losing the ball in the lights.
“Whenever you’ve got a group of receivers that’s pretty tall but also versatile and athletic, it adds another element to the offense as a whole,” Washington said. “It gives us a great variety of things we can do — go down field vertically, throw the fade in the red zone. Right now, it’s great, and it’s something that we’re using to our advantage.”