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Saturday, September 3, 2011
Missouri doesn't look pretty, but wins

By David Ubben

Miami (Ohio) isn't a big-name opponent, but it is a quality opponent that won 10 games a year ago.

The RedHawks were a solid starting point for Missouri, which won its season opener on Faurot Field, 17-6.

James Franklin's debut was the big draw, and while he wasn't brilliant, he showed promise and did enough for the Tigers to win.

He finished 17-of-26 for 129 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Miami's only score came on Franklin's worst play of the day, an ugly interception on the sideline that handed the ball over on the Tigers' 14-yard line.

He didn't look wholly confident, but he made plays. And most importantly, he got the win. He's got a defense behind him that will allow him to make mistakes like his interception today, but also, don't forget this: It was the first start of his career.

He'll improve. That's what college football players do.

He threw the ball much better in the second half, highlighted by a nice throw downfield on a 28-yard pass to T.J. Moe and a pretty 10-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas.

He'll have to be better on Friday night when Missouri travels to play Arizona State, but for now, Missouri can consider his debut a success.

Two big things to watch, though: the health of starting defensive end Jacquies Smith and linebacker Will Ebner. Ebner reportedly has a high ankle sprain, which can linger for extended periods of time.

Smith appeared to suffer a serious arm injury, but no update on his status was provided after he was helped into the locker room.

It wasn't perfect. It was nowhere near pretty. But it's a win, and Gary Pinkel has produced a lot of those at Missouri of late.