A few Friday afternoon bullets on what to watch for as the Missouri Tigers' battle with the powerhouse that is Southeast Missouri State draws near...
-- While escaping without upset is clearly the first priority for the Tigers, avoiding further injury to all-around threat Jeremy Maclin isn't far behind. While Maclin is expected to play despite an ankle injury suffered last week, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Tigers limit his snaps and possibly returning duties as the game goes on if Mizzou can jump out to a big lead early. This should be rather doable against a Division I-AA team that struggled with mighty Southwest Baptist a week ago.
-- Speaking of big leads, the Tigers need to be focused on avoiding last season's habit of sprinting off to the races early and then kicking back and watching leads dwindle in the second half. In addition to last year's struggles with this concept, the Tigers saw a 31-13 halftime lead last week cut to 45-35 early in the fourth quarter. The longer a good team lets an inferior unit hang in the game, the greater the chance of a bad break leading to an upset. While the Tigers should be a level -- or several -- above the Redhawks this week, it would be encouraging to see them really step on the gas pedal to start the second half.
-- No matter how well the Tigers play early, expect to see the fellows from SEMO keep battling. The Redhawks trailed 21-3 at the half and 28-12 going to the fourth quarter last week and rallied to beat Southwest Baptist with 23 unanswered points in the fourth and overtime. This is no doubt a different weight class for SEMO, but these guys won't pack it in easily.
-- Look out for the man wearing number 87 in white and red. Miles Edwards led the Redhawks in receiving a season ago with a total of 34 receptions for 480 yards in ten games. He nabbed 10 balls for 204 yards and two scores -- including the overtime winner -- in last week's season opener alone. He is likely worth some defensive attention for the black and gold.
-- In the words of former Missouri hoops shooting guard Keon Lawrence: "Run, run, run, run." Southwest Baptist gashed SEMO for 243 yards on the ground last week. Derrick Washington's second career start could turn into a field day for the Missouri ground game, with help from veteran tailback Jimmy Jackson.
All things considered, the Tigers really should cruise here. Business begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.
Note: Steven Weinman is a journalism student at the University of Missouri at Columbia.