June 12, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Joey Nelson
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Missouri, a program embarking on its first campaign in the Southeastern Conference, will head to Orlando for a big non-conference matchup against the Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium on Sept. 29. The contest will serve as the first time that the Knights have hosted an SEC team.
Mizzou enters its first season as an SEC member coming off an 8-5 record and an impressive 41-24 victory over North Carolina in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.
Quarterback James Franklin led the Mizzou offense last season, a unit that ranked sixth nationally in rushing yards and 12th in total offense. Even though Mizzou lost some key contributors to the NFL Draft, coaches and players believe they have valued experience and plenty of depth to be successful.
Offensive Player to Watch
If the Tigers hope to secure a top spot in the SEC's East division, it'll have to be Franklin who guides the team. The Texas native made great strides last season, starting all 13 games while putting up 2,865 yards in the air and throwing 21 touchdowns. Franklin also had success with his legs, piling up 981 yards on the ground to go along with 15 more touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback is a beast of an athlete and continues to excel as a poised and confident leader in the pocket. But Mizzou coaches are keeping their fingers crossed as Franklin recovers from a shoulder injury suffered during the spring. Head coach Gary Pinkel says his lead guy appears to be "ahead of schedule" and should be back in full swing for August workouts. Expect Franklin to give the Knights' defense a challenge all over the field, whether it be through the air or on the ground.
Defensive Player to Watch
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Mizzou defensive back E.J. Gaines is often times outsized and undervalued when going up against an opponent's top wideout. But last year was just the platform the corner needed as he amassed 69 tackles, had 18 passes broken up and recorded two interceptions. Gaines' play spoke for itself when he earned All-Big 12 First Team honors in what was just his first year as starting cornerback. The Tigers' top corner is relentless in the air and plays with a fearless attitude when put out on an island in one-on-one matchups.
Knight vs. Tiger Matchup To Look Out For
There will be plenty of great matchups on gameday, but one of the most interesting battles to look out for will be between the nation's consensus No. 1 recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham, against UCF's defensive backfield. Wide receiver Green-Beckham, who towers at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, set a national high school career receiving record with 6,447 yards and 72 touchdowns. He has a knack for plucking the football over smaller defenders and plays with a big, physical presence. Mizzou's wide receiving corps also includes senior T.J. Moe, who caught a team-leading 54 passes for 649 yards and four touchdowns. Senior free safety Kemal Ishmael and returning senior corner A.J. Bouye lead UCF's defensive backs and if the Knights want to play spoiler during Mizzou's road trip, the defense needs to create turnovers and manage three-and-outs.