#37 Missouri Football 2013 Preview

Missouri Tigers

Overall Rank: #37
#8 SEC

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The first year in the SEC did not go very well for Missouri. This is not the Big 12 and the Tigers are not built particularly well to uphold the rigors of their new conference. It was a tough adjustment to go from the pass happy Big 12 to the more physical game of the SEC. As a result the Tigers won just two conference games in their debut year. The 2013 campaign should be better, but the schedule is never kind and most of their winnable conference games are on the road.

2012 Record: 5-7, 2-6
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Gary Pinkel (90-61 at Missouri, 90-61 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Henson
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Steckel

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marcus Murphy, RB, 251 yards
Passing: James Franklin, QB, 1,562 yards
Receiving: Marcus Lucas, WR, 509 yards
Tackles: Andrew Wilson, LB, 79
Sacks: Michael Sam, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: E.J. Gaines, CB, 1; Randy Ponder, CB, 1; Donovan Bonner, LB, 1

Other Key Returnees: QB Corbin Berkstresser, RB Henry Josey, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, WR L’Damian Washington, TE Eric Waters, OL Justin Britt, OL Max Copeland, C Evan Boehm, DE Kony Ealy, DT Matt Hoch, S Braylon Webb

Key Losses: RB Kendial Lawrence, WR T.J. Moe, DL Sheldon Richardson, LB Will Ebner, S Kenronte Walker, LB Zavier Gooden, CB Kip Edwards

Missouri’s offense is always going to have potential. Unfortunately, that is still the best way to describe senior quarterback James Franklin. When Franklin was not hurt last season, he was inconsistent. He still led the Tigers with 1,562 passing yards and ten touchdowns through the air. By Missouri standards, that is really bad. The team ranked ninth in the SEC in passing offense. Corbin Berkstresser, a 6-3 sophomore, did not fare any better than Franklin. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk is in the mix as well, but was not able to surpass Franklin in the spring. He will likely be the primary backup with Berkstresser third in the pecking order. The wide receivers will put up much better numbers if somebody can get them the ball. Marcus Lucas caught a team high 46 passes for 509 yards and L’Damian Washington proved to be a big play threat. Speaking of big play threats, Bud Sasser only caught ten passes in 2012, but he averaged over 23 yards per catch. Dorial Green-Beckham is a big target in the red zone and five of his 28 catches ended in the end zone. Darius White, a transfer from Texas, was a big time recruit coming out of high school and could find a revival at Missouri. A suddenly experienced offensive line will help give the receivers time to get open and provide plenty of space for the running backs. Henry Josey is back to build on his 2011 All-American season after a devastating knee injury sidelined him for the 2012 campaign. Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough are expected to get plenty of carries as well.

The defense did a decent job toughening up and stopping the run, but there is plenty of room for vast improvement. The line must replace Sheldon Richardson, who left early for the NFL. Ends Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Shane Ray are great talents, yet even with Richardson helping out, the Tigers ranked 12th in the SEC with just 1.75 sacks per game. Building a new linebacker corps will not help matters. Big, physical linebacker Andrew Wilson is moving into the middle and he should once again lead the team in tackles. Darvis Ruise and Donovan Bonner will fill in beside him. Ruise and Bonner are experienced upperclassmen, but much of the depth is questionable, as is the case across much of the defense. E.J. Gaines is one of the best cornerbacks in the conference, but the unit lacks playmakers. The team as a whole picked off a mere seven passes in 2012. Safeties Braylon Webb and Matt White are both now experienced upperclassmen and that should help the secondary as a whole. Whether or not that experience leads to more big plays remains to be seen.

The Bottom Line:
Nothing really went right for Missouri last year. The quarterbacks were inconsistent, Josey was hurt and the defense horribly underperformed. This team was not as bad as their record. The Tigers should start off the year 4-0, with the only questionable game coming on the road at Indiana. After that it is just a couple wins to bowl eligibility. They will have to win on the road against teams like Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi, but those should be winnable games. Six is the magic number, yet this group is capable of winning a couple more games than that if the injury bug stays away and the lack of experienced defensive depth does not catch up with them.

Projected Bowl: Music City Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 138.50 (88th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 217.92 (76, 9)
Total Offense: 356.42 (96, 11)
Scoring Offense: 25.75 (80, 11)
Rushing Defense: 149.25 (49, 9)
Pass Defense: 241.42 (74, 10)
Total Defense: 390.67 (58, 10)
Scoring Defense: 28.42 (68, 11)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (55, 7)
Sacks: 1.75 (76, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 2.42 (87, 9)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#38 Kony Ealy

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#246 Chase Abbington


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