Missouri football recap: What we learned from the South Dakota State opener

Sunday, August 31, 2014 | 6:46 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It wasn't the most convincing victory, but the Missouri football team won its home opener against South Dakota State. Here are four takeaways as the Tigers prepare to travel to Toledo. 

Marcus Murphy is still a threat on special teams

Much has been made about Murphy's switch from running back to slot receiver during camp. The senior played both positions Saturday but was especially potent as a kick returner. Murphy tallied 130 yards on special teams and scored a touchdown on a kickoff return in the third quarter.

"Kickoff returns, all the special teams, really, are a big momentum-changer," Murphy said. "I take pride in that."

Andrew Baggett's performance was not so special

Speaking of special teams, Missouri's kicker didn't have his best game Saturday. Baggett missed two of his three field goal attempts, including one that went wide left from 34 yards out.

To be fair, the other miss was from 55 yards out. After the game, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he didn't regret sending Baggett out for the long attempt.

"I've seen him make it in practice before, so it's a shot to do it," Pinkel said.

Markus Golden is more than adequate as a replacement on the defensive line

Missouri fans will long remember Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. The defensive ends, both drafted by NFL teams in May, combined for 19 1/2 sacks last season and left fans wondering who could possibly step in to replace them.

Markus Golden would like to remind you that he also knows how to sack the quarterback. The senior, who played off the bench last season, had three tackles for loss and two sacks Saturday. He was a key part in containing South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner.

Overall, Golden tallied 10 tackles against the Jackrabbits. It was the most tackles for a Missouri defensive lineman since Sheldon Richardson had 14 in a 2012 game.

Assessing the SEC East race early

A storm and a sophomore quarterback may have helped the Tigers as they look to repeat as champions in the Southeastern Conference's East division. 

First, the quarterback. Texas A&M's Kenny Hill threw for 511 yards in the No. 21 Aggies' upset win at No. 9 South Carolina Thursday night. The Gamecocks hadn't lost at home since 2011, and now find themselves at the bottom of a division that many expected them to win. Missouri travels to the other Columbia to play South Carolina on Sept. 27. 

Then on Saturday, a thunderstorm rolled through Gainesville, Fla., and suspended Florida's opener against Idaho. The game has yet to be rescheduled as of Sunday, but the team has a bye week after playing Alabama on Sept. 20 as well as after its home game against Missouri on Oct. 18. The Gators, who have also been called contenders in the SEC East, could be banged up by the time the Tigers pay a visit.

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.

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