The bemoaning is starting to surface across campus.
What’s so good about this Dorial Green-Beckham guy? When’s he going to do something? Why hasn’t he won the Heisman yet?
Green-Beckham, the nation’s former No. 1 recruit who comes to Missouri having become the nation’s all-time leading high school receiver, has four catches for 37 yards through two games.
And while Green-Beckham has yet to revamp the parking situation on campus or alleviate issues with Mizzou Wireless, let alone reach the end zone, his coaches and teammates are not concerned about the freshman’s performance thus far.
“It’s zero indicative of how well he’s been playing,” wide receivers coach Andy Hill said of Green-Beckham’s box score line.
According to Hill, coaches are asking three questions: Can he line up correctly? Does he know what he’s doing when he’s in a certain position? Can he do what he’s asked to do?
Green-Beckham, Hill said, has done all three.
“Getting lined up first is always a good challenge for every freshman year because we don’t just say, ‘Hey, you’re on the left side every time,’” Hill said. “We move guys around.”
Hill has seen consistent, week-to-week improvement from the Springfield, Mo., native and notes he is ahead of where the coach projected Green-Beckham to be.
“The hard part is you’re comparing guys like Dorial, young players, to great players at the end of careers, fourth-year Danario (Alexander) or Jeremy Maclin,” Hill said, referring to former Tiger All-Americans turned NFL players. “Looking back at their freshman years at the things they did, there was a lot of improvement those guys made their sophomore year.”
Coach Gary Pinkel isn’t concerned either.
“The thing I tell him is just (to) have a good attitude and the ball will come to you,” he said. “He's doing real well. He’s getting better.”
Has it been teams’ attention on Green-Beckham leading to his limited involvement?
“Oh I don't think so,” Pinkel said. “Not yet. I think they are certainly aware of him but I think he has to earn that.”
Green-Beckham has been targeted with just more than 10 percent of junior quarterback James Franklin’s attempts, a number Franklin plans to increase this weekend.
“There have been a couple times where I could have looked that way and sometimes where he was later on in the progression, but he’s been doing great and I definitely want to get him the ball more because he’s a playmaker,” Franklin said.
So what is it holding Green-Beckham back?
According to Franklin, it’s “little things with his inexperience” that led to Green-Beckham not knowing what to do “once or twice” during the Georgia game.
“It’s not necessarily that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s just not getting the signal,” Franklin said. “If he comes from the sideline and has to go all the way across the field he’s running, trying to get there fast, and by the time he gets there we’ve already gotten the signal and are ready to go.”
Perhaps it’s Missouri’s high-octane, briskly-paced attack that has Green-Beckham’s progression still under development. Franklin mentioned coaches on the sidelines giving Green-Beckham a heads-up about the play before sending him onto the field as one solution.
Getting everyone on the same page could prove especially advantageous Saturday against Arizona State. Of the 12 wide receivers listed on the depth chart, Green-Beckham is one of eight that are listed at 6-foot-2 or taller. The only member of the Sun Devils secondary to crack 6-foot-1 is free safety Keelan Johnson. The starting cornerbacks are 5-foot-11 and 6-foot.
Saturday night against that smallish Sun Devils secondary will be Green-Beckham’s third chance to wow a fan base that yearns for a breakout performance from its team’s prized acquisition.
He has shown flashes, such as the 29-yard leaping grab along the sidelines against Southeastern Louisiana and his performance in the team’s three preseason scrimmages, over which he led all receivers statistically.
“It’s pretty,” Hill said of those flashes, with a grin on his face. “It’s beautiful. He’ll get there. Everybody comes in with that mindset of, ‘I’ve been the guy.’ He knows he’s a certain piece of what we’re trying to do and his piece will fit in greatly when it happens.”