It started innocently enough with Oklahoma State kicking a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to tie Missouri at 17-17 in the Cotton Bowl. Little did anyone who had watched the previous three quarters that the fireworks were about to be lit. Missouri and Oklahoma State combined for 41 points as Missouri came out on top with a 41-31 victory. Missouri’s Henry Josey rushed for two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help lead the Tigers to the win.
Missouri used both of their quarterbacks in the game. James Franklin started the game but struggled to find a rhythm against Oklahoma State’s persistent and determined defense. Franklin completed just four of his first 16 pass attempts before being replaced by Maty Mauk. Mauk provided a spark but the impact was short-lived in the first half. Franklin returned to the game and completed 11 of his 24 pass attempts since being replaced by Mauk, for 141 yards.
The first three quarters were more about defenses than anything else. Oklahoma State was kept off the scoreboard in the second quarter and went nearly 30 minutes between scores in a game that was supposed to be a shootout from the start. Perhaps the old Big 12 familiarity between the two programs crept in as a factor but the offenses took over in the fourth quarter to provide more of the type of game that was expected.The teams traded scores with Oklahoma State finally grabbing a lead with just over five minutes to play with a Desmond Roland touchdown run. Josey broke a 16-yard touchdown run two minutes later, and the defense of Missouri had the final laugh. Michael Sam rushed from the right side of the pocket and hit Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf to knock the football loose. Misso Shane Ray picked it up and ran down the right sideline for 73 yards and a double-digit lead just as the Cowboys were putting the pressure on. Chelf passed for 377 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was picked off twice and had the costly fumble.
Missouri may not ave won the SEC Championship Game, but the experiences from this season can help continue to grow the program to a perennial contender in the SEC East. The Tigers were aided by down years by Georgia and Florida, and they did lose at home to South Carolina and run out of steam against Auburn. The signs of progress were shown this season in Columbia, Missouri. Missouri fits in just fine in the SEC, and Friday night’s Cotton Bowl victory is the latest evidence to support that argument.
Missouri will look to continue to prove they are a contender in the SEC East and SEC next season. The Tigers will have a favorable schedule without crossover games against Alabama and LSU, but they will make trips to Georgia and Florida. Both programs should be ready for a bounce back in 2014. Missouri also plays host to American and Fiesta Bowl champion UCF in mid-September, which should be an entertaining match-up as well.
Oklahoma State will start the 2014 season right in this same building. The Cowboys will face Florida State in the season opener at AT&T Stadium. They could be facing the defending BCS champions being led by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Unfortunately for Oklahoma State the Cowboys will be in a bit of a transition with their roster after losing a good number of seniors.
That certainly didn’t last long.
Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.
As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.
“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.
The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.
Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.
Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.
The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.
Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.
Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.
There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.
ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:
In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.
As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.