Huge crowd cheers season’s first home-game victory
Immediately after the season-opening kickoff against Southeast Missouri State at Faurot Field on Saturday night, Truman jumped into the first row of seats in the student section, where he hadn’t joined the fans since the last home game on Nov. 10, 2007, against Texas A&M.
Something was definitely amiss.
With just about nine minutes left in the first half, Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel wasn’t lined up under center. In his place was receiver Jeremy Maclin; Daniel was lined up wide to the right.
The ball was snapped before Southeast Missouri State players noticed, though, and the trick play was under way. Maclin threw a lateral to Daniel, who then scanned the field for an open receiver. Looking toward the end zone, he spotted running back Derrick Washington wide open. The problem was that Washington was on the opposite side of the field.
As Daniel launched the pass to Washington, the defenders finally realized what was happening. One reached Washington as the bomb arrived, but he might as well have saved his efforts.
Soaring skyward, Washington nabbed the ball for a touchdown, putting Mizzou up 42-0 and giving the Tigers the most points ever scored in a half under coach Gary Pinkel. Daniel said after the game that he hadn’t seen many running backs do what Washington was able to on the reception.
“I was sitting there and waiting for a while,” Washington says. “That was the hardest thing, just sitting there and waiting for it. But when it came, I went up and got it and got in the end zone.”
The score was Washington’s last of the day in Mizzou’s 52-3 rout of SEMO. He had a total of 43 reception yards and also had eight rushes for 67 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s just warming up,” says Pinkel. “He’s a talented guy. If you’re going to talk about that throw down in the corner, he catches like a wide receiver or tight end. You could move him to receiver, and he’d do an excellent job.”
With 244 multi-purpose yards and five touchdowns this season, Washington is living up to the effusive praise. Pinkel says the process of becoming one of Mizzou’s biggest playmakers actually started last year.
“The experience of playing a year ago, even though he didn’t play a lot, allows him to play at the level he’s at right now,” Pinkel says. “Getting the number of reps he’s getting, he’ll certainly continue to get better and better. He’s a very strong, powerful guy.”
The gadget play was the final one the starting offense ran. Daniel finished the day 16 for 17 with 245 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was a little bit high to Chase [Coffman],” says Daniel. “I was hoping he’d make a circus leap like he usually does, but one incompletion? We’ll take that every day. ”
Freshman Jerrel Jackson led receivers with six catches for 70 yards. Jared Perry had three for 60 and a score, while Jeremy Maclin added the other touchdown on an 11-yard reception, his only one of the day.
“We went out with the intention to try to score every drive,” says Washington. “That’s what we did. We had a great game. The offense was clicking; we couldn’t be stopped.”
MU running back Derrick Washington avoids SEMO free safety Marvin Anderson as he picks up a first down for the Tigers.
More than 62,000 fans witnessed multiple records and runs Saturday at Faurot Field. Daniel’s passer rating of 273.4 set a new school record, beating out the 270.7 previously held by Corby Jones. The 52 points scored marked the most in a home opener since the Tigers beat Kentucky’s Centre College 60-0 back in 1928. The 49-point victory was the largest margin of victory under Pinkel, edging out a 48-point win against Ball State University (Indiana) in 2004. Even the fans themselves were part of history, coming in as the fourth-largest home opening crowd in school history. The players took notice.
“They love playing in the Zou,” Pinkel says about his players. “They love running out in front of 62,000 people. I can’t say enough about our fans. I’ve been here a while. It was a huge statement by our fans. I know our players appreciate it, and we understand the responsibility that comes with it.”
The responsibility he refers to is continuing to post dominant performances like Saturday’s against the Redhawks. The players, infused with that same sense of responsibility, look forward to whatever challenges lie in front of them this season.
“It doesn’t matter who we play anymore,” says Washington. “If we bring our A game, I don’t think we can be beat.”