It’s been a breakout season in many ways for Missouri sophomore wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who turned in a championship-worthy performance Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
Green-Beckham, a Springfield native and former No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, caught six passes for 144 yards with two touchdowns against Auburn in the SEC championship game.
While it wasn’t enough to pace Missouri to a win as Auburn prevailed 59-42, it did mark another milestone in his ascension to the top tier of wide receivers in college football.
“He just does a good job making plays,” said senior quarterback James Franklin, who completed 21 of 37 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Franklin’s connection with Green-Beckham was unstoppable at times.
It started with a 28-yard dart on a deep post in the first quarter. Green-Beckham worked inside against Auburn cornerback Jonathon Mincy, using his 6-foot-6 frame to box out Mincy from the ball.
The play wasn’t reviewed, but CBS showed the ball might have hit the ground when Green-Beckham was driven to the turf and sprained his left shoulder.
“I mean, they said it was a touchdown, so it’s a touchdown,” Green-Beckham said when asked if the ball hit the turf.
Green-Beckham missed several minutes getting the shoulder looked at in the locker room but returned in time to catch a 55-yard touchdown on a rainbow over the defense by Franklin with 18 seconds left in the first half.
“Speed kills,” Green-Beckham said. “We knew they were going to sit on anything toward the sideline, so we depended on our speed and I just ran by the guy and made a big play right before the half.”
There were other bright spots for the offense.
Junior running back Henry Josey had nine carries for 123 yards and topped 1,000 yards for the season. He now has 1,074 yards after missing nearly two years following major knee reconstruction.
In addition to his passing numbers, Franklin had 15 carries for 62 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown, and also ran in a two-point conversion.
But it was Green-Beckham, who took a short tunnel screen on third-and-8 in the third quarter and dashed 37 yards on a cross-field blitz, that stood out the most.
“I felt like the offense, we came out there and did what we needed to do, but it comes down to who wanted it more and I guess they were just a notch ahead of us,” Green-Beckham said.
Normally, it would be hard to be upset about 534 yards of total offense and averaging 7.5 yards per play, but Missouri fell short of its main goal.
“As an offense, we always want to go out there and put up more points than the other team,” Franklin said. “It was exciting knowing we had to go out there and put up points, but it was frustrating when we didn’t execute.”To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.