Worth the wait
Sat, 09 Nov 2013 23:48:32 GMT —
This is why Gary Pinkel jumped out of his seat 21 months ago.
This is what Missouri fans have waited for the last 21 months.
Yes, Tiger fans, we've had a Dorial Green-Beckham sighting.
It was worth the wait.
The 6-6, 225-pound sophomore lived up to his billing as an unstoppable force Saturday, as he caught seven passes for 100 yards and a school-record four touchdowns as the No. 9 Missouri Tigers (9-1, 5-1 SEC) shrugged off the Kentucky Wildcats (2-7, 0-5) 48-17.
And when I say shrugged off, I mean shrugged off. Kentucky's shortish defenders had no chance.
"How about that? Obviously, the guy can make a lot of plays," Pinkel, the MU head coach, said of Green-Beckham. "Dorial probably had his best week of practice last week and I think that showed."
Coming out of high school at Springfield Hillcrest, DGB was more sought-after than a cup of water after two days in the desert.
He was ranked the top recruit at ANY position by Rivals, and his decision in February, 2012, was nationally-televised on ESPN.
In high school, DGB put up video-game numbers. He amassed a national prep record of 6,353 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns, closing it out with 119 catches for 2,233 yards and 24 scores as a senior.
Also as a senior, he was named the National Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated, Parade Magazine and USA Today, and was also a two-time first team USA Today All-American.
Then came that announcement 21 months ago ...
"I was in my office, but I didn't want to watch it," Pinkel said that day. "I was just hoping somebody would start screaming."
"I jumped out of my seat, man," Pinkel said. "I was pretty excited when I heard the screaming."
Then came DGB's much-anticipated freshman season. But it was hardly anything to jump out of your seat about --- 28 catches, 411 total yards (receiving and rushing), five touchdowns.
By comparison, fellow SEC freshman and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, accounted for 5,116 total yards and 47 touchdowns.
Through nine games this season, DGB was slightly more effective --- 33 catches, five touchdowns. Hardly anything special.
But then came Saturday, when DGB's 6-6 frame, 4.4 speed, and leaping ability (he was an all-state basketball player at Hillcrest) stood out like LeBron James at a kindergarten intramural game.
"He has such a huge, huge physical advantage over most corners, you can take advantage of it," Pinkel said. "That's what we did today."
Then again, this was Kentucky.
(Sidebar: For Missouri fans, the Blue and White of KU has been replaced by the Blue and White of UK. Two really great basketball schools, two really lousy football schools. Think about this --- arguably the three best basketball programs in the country are Kansas, Kentucky and Duke. All are Blue and White and all stink in football. Really, can you name a college football team in Blue and White that is actually good? BYU? Air Force? Lincoln? Just a bit odd ... )
Back to the Black and Gold.
Maty Mauk tied a school record by throwing for five touchdowns against Kentucky; Henry Josey had an 86-yard touchdown run, 113 yards rushing and two scores; and the defense totaled seven sacks (spread out among six players), giving them 34 for the season, while forcing a turnover for the 40th straight game --- the longest streak in the nation.
While Mauk started, James Franklin ended the game after missing the last few weeks with a shoulder injury. All the plays Franklin ran were hand-offs.
"We did not want to get him hit," Pinkel said. "He could have played in an emergency situation but at the very end, we wanted to get him on the field and get a few snaps.
"We think he'll be 100 percent healthy, without question, for the game at Ole Miss."
The Ole Miss game is two weeks away as the Tigers look the clinch their spot in the SEC title game. A win at Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M will do it.
"It's great to have a bye-week, so you can get your head away from it a little bit," Pinkel said. "The amount of intensity it takes to play, and play well, takes its toll.
"Not only the mental side of it, to check out a little bit and focus on academics, but there's no question that the physical side will really help. This bye is a perfect spot for us.
"We can take a deep breath for a minute."
No game next week, Tiger fans. But it's worth the wait.