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Healthy Franklin and Josey fuel Mizzou

Henry Josey's first carry of the season was everything he wanted.

Missouri's redshirt junior running back didn't need a lot of flash or flare, he just wanted to keep the Tigers' up-tempo offense moving. His coaches asked him to pound the ball, and that's what he did.

So when his first touch came in the form of a 12-yard run against Murray State, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound water bug of a running back was elated when he moved the chains.

"I was just glad to be playing football and I couldn't wait for our first game," said Josey, who missed all of 2012 with a devastating knee injury that required three surgeries. "I'd been out for so long that getting ready for that day was very important and was a big thing for me.

"When I got my chance, I just made sure I didn't do a bad thing and kept the intensity level up."

Two plays earlier, quarterback James Franklin was in a similar situation. Months removed from shoulder, head and knee injuries, Franklin was taking his first pain-free game snaps since Week 2 of the 2012 season.

While Josey was in the background of the 2012 season, Franklin was front and center with injuries and controversy surrounding his refusal to take a cortisone shot to numb the excruciating pain circulating through his right, throwing shoulder.

Pain and drama, two things every quarterback dreams of having.

But with that in the past, Franklin unleashed an 18-yard pass to receiver Bud Sasser on Mizzou's first play of the season. To sling a pass in a real game and not feel any jolts of pain was a relief, but it was also strange.

"It feels weird," Franklin said, "but it's a good weird."

No matter how strange it feels -- or even looks -- it's a great thing for the Tigers. Injuries to Franklin and the offensive line wrecked Mizzou's 2012 SEC debut, as the Tigers limped to a 5-7 finish and no bowl game for the first time since 2004.

Now, the bandages are gone. Through two games, Mizzou ranks third in the SEC in total offense (539 yards per game), second in scoring (48) and is averaging 6.8 yards per play. Mizzou has averaged 28 first downs in two games after averaging just 18 a game last year.

Forget the quality of opponent the Tigers have faced through the first two weeks of the season, they are 2-0 and this is exactly what Mizzou needs if it's going to rebound in 2013.

"This year, it's a totally different thing," Josey said. "We don't have any worries at all. It's crazy the feeling around here.

"The confidence is crazy with all of us. We're just ready to win games."

A major reason for that is the return of Josey and Franklin.

Almost two years ago, this was one of the nation's best offensive duos. Franklin was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks with more than 2,800 passing yards and nearly 1,000 rushing yards, while Josey was the Big 12's best running back (1,168 yards and nine touchdowns) before his nasty knee injury against Texas in Week 11.

Entering Saturday's game at Indiana, Franklin has thrown for 530 yards and five touchdowns, while Josey has rushed for 139 yards and three scores. Franklin, who rushed for just 122 yards all of last season, has 121 rushing yards.

That production has this team trusting the offense more, Franklin said.

"They have the confidence in us now that we're feeling good," he said. "They trust in us and we trust in them, and we're going to move the ball down the field.

"To get a win will really help us out. It'll really help us with our confidence.”

Added Josey: "It's a different type of swag that we have with each other. We're so hungry and ready to play football. We're so ready to turn the program back around and we're having fun doing it."

While Indiana (2-1) isn't the stoutest of opponents, especially after that loss to Navy in Week 2, Josey knows how important a win away from home would be for this team.

"We have to win on the road in order to have a successful season," he said. "Everybody can win at home, but winning on the road is the most important thing. Going out there and playing them this Saturday is going to be a great experience for our team."