#35 Missouri Football 2014 Preview

Missouri Tigers

Overall Rank: #35
#9 SEC

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Missouri was just a double overtime loss to South Carolina away from a perfect regular season. Of course, they lost to Auburn in the SEC Championship game as well. The Tigers do have some key pieces to replace and will likely take a step back in 2014, but there is talent to build around. And with no Alabama, Auburn or LSU on the schedule, Missouri has a shot at winning the SEC East, but we will know early since their first three conference games are against East foes South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

2013 Record: 12-2, 7-1
2013 Bowl: Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (W 41-31)
Coach: Gary Pinkel (102-63 at Missouri, 175-100 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Henson
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Steckel

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Russell Hansbrough, RB, 685 yards
Passing: Matty Mauk, QB, 1,071 yards
Receiving: Bud Sasser, WR, 361 yards
Tackles: Braylon Webb, S, 89
Sacks: Markus Golden, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Braylon Webb, S, 3; Kentrell Brothers, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Marcus Murphy, WR Jimmie Hunt, OL Evan Boehm, K Andrew Baggett

Key Losses: RB Henry Josey, QB James Franklin, WR L’Damian Washington, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, WR Marcus Lucas, LB Andrew Wilson, OL Justin Britt, CB E.J. Gaines, LB Donovan Bonner, DE Michael Sam, DE Kony Ealy

As usual, Coach Gary Pinkel will have a potent offense, despite the major losses at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Signal caller James Franklin threw for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns during his senior season, but Maty Mauk is more than ready to put up bigger numbers. He played in all 13 games and started four when Franklin was hurt. He passed for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns, while throwing just two interceptions. Mauk should easily surpass 3,000 yards. But none of those passes will go to Dorial Beckham-Green, L’Damian Washington or Marcus Lucas. Those three accounted for 2,468 receiving yards and 25 receiving touchdowns. But there is still experience on the roster with seniors Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White. However, by the end of the year it could be youngsters like sophomore Levi Copelin and freshman J’Mon Moore who are garnering all of the attention. At running back, Henry Josey needs to be replaced, but this should still be a very effective team on the ground. Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy are both coming off good years backing up Josey and are ready for more carries.

Like on offense, the defense has players ready to fill in for the big name losses. And there are no bigger losses than on the line where Mizzou lost ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. But waiting in the wings are Markus Golden and Shane Ray. Sam and Ealy combined for 20.0 sacks as starters, while Golden and Ray combined for 11.0 as reserves, so they should be ready to step into starting roles. The depth at tackle is impressive, led by Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent. Kentrell Brothers is the only returning starter at linebacker and the hope is the young talent can be just as productive as Andrew Wilson and Donovan Bonner have been. Missouri had the worst ranked pass defense in the SEC and that may get worse with three starters needed to be replaced in the secondary.

The Bottom Line:
The Tigers success in 2013 largely came due to turnovers. They had the fifth best turnover margin in the nation. That is a tough feat to duplicate, especially without Sams and Ealy getting pressure off of the edges and E.J. Gaines picking off passes. The offense is going to be very good and the defense will be the difference between a squad that can compete with the best the SEC has to offer and a team that will struggle to reach six wins.

Projected Bowl: Liberty Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 237.9 (16th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 252.9 (41, 5)
Total Offense: 490.7 (16, 3)
Scoring Offense: 39.1 (13, 3)
Rushing Defense: 152.9 (49, 7)
Pass Defense: 264.8 (107, 14)
Total Defense: 417.7 (81, 10)
Scoring Defense: 23.1 (34, 6)
Turnover Margin: 1.1 (5, 1)
Sacks:  2.93 (12, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.93 (59, 10)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#32 Markus Golden

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#157 Andy Bauer


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