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Missouri finished 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference in total defense and pass efficiency defense last year.
And it at times picked up where it left off in a 6-7 campaign in the Tigers’ season opener Thursday night against Louisiana Tech. But Missouri had plenty enough offense to overcome for a 52-24 victory in Columbia, Missouri.
Lousiana Tech quarterback Matthew Downing threw a 75-yard touchdown, and backup Parker McNeil threw 64- and 37-yard touchdowns. The Tigers picked off three of Downing’s passes, though, including one by defensive back Joseph Charleston that he returned 29 yards for a touchdown and 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Missouri never trailed again and put up 558 yards to 347 as sophomore quarterback Brady Cook completed 18 of 27 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown while rushing seven times for 61 yards with a 20-yard score.
“A lot of sloppiness that needs to be corrected,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “But when you’re complaining after scoring 52, that’s probably a bad sign. But there are things we’ve got to get corrected in a hurry.”
Missouri (1-0) plays at Kansas State on Sept. 10.
Five-star prospect wide receiver Luther Burden III of St. Louis showed promise as he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass and rushed for a 1-yard touchdown from a direct snap. He rushed three times for 26 yards and caught three passes for 17 yards.