Other than Auburn, nobody was more of a surprise last season than the Missouri Tigers. After floundering in the their first season in the SEC, I saw them as dead in the water until they started beating people in 2013.
They even lost their senior starting QB, James Franklin, for a few games and didn’t skip a beat. This year should be interesting and will prove which was the correct Tiger team, 2012 or 2013. Judging from what I have seen from Gary Pinkel, 2013 was the real Missouri Tigers.
I promise I am not an SEC homer. I am a fan of all conferences fairly equally so I have nothing to gain by ranking yet another SEC team.
In looking over this Missouri team and sizing up their roster, I feel as if they have a good shot at having another good season.
They have 7 home games this year and their schedule over all is fairly easy. They have tough games with South Carolina in the other Columbia where the Gamecocks reside. They play Florida at Florida, but will it be the Gators of a year ago at 4-8 or the previous year’s tough Gators? Time will tell.
They play my #10 team, Georgia at home. Then, they play Texas A&M at College Station for the 4th time in 5 years.
I feel like their schedule is very doable.
The Missouri offense was pretty much unstoppable at times in 2013.
James Franklin was their star QB and he went down for part of the season and they didn’t seem to be less potent with Maty Mauk (6-1,200). Mauk was a redshirt freshman and threw for over a thousand yards with 11 TDs and only 2 Interceptions.
He also ran for 229 yards and another score. He’s got the arm and is pretty mobile and I thought he looked every bit as good as Franklin most of the time and especially considering he was a redshirt freshman. Maty Mauk comes into 2014 with some good seasoning under his belt.
Corbin Berkstresser (6-3,225) played a lot for the Tigers in a very forgettable disaster of a 2012 season. Spring Ball will tell us more, but I am thinking he will be the main back up behind Mauk.
Eddie Printz (6-2,215) from Marietta, Georgia redshirted a year ago and should be in the mix for back up. Trent Hosick (6-1,225) from Kansas City also redshirted and could be in the mix or just provide depth.
Marvin Zanders (6-2,175) is a very athletic 3 star QB out of Jacksonville. I believe a redshirt year is in ahead of him unless he just comes in and impresses.
The Tigers had 2 juniors that left early for the big bucks of the NFL and one of them was Henry Josey. Josey and his 1166 yards will be sorely missed, but the Tigers do return some good RBs.
Russell Hansbrough (5-9,190) ran for 685 yards at 6 yards per carry and 4 TDs.
Marcus Murphy (5-9,195) was equally effective, if not more, churning out 601 yards at 6.5 yards per carry and 9 TDs.
Morgan Steward (6-1,210) is a slightly bigger back that rushed for 84 yards as a freshman and is a nice change of pace. Greg White (6-1,220) is of the same mold as Steward and ran for 36 yards in 2013.
That’s some pretty serious depth at RB. Throw in incoming freshmen Trevon Walters (5-10,190) out of Bradenton, Florida and Ishmael Witter (5-8,185) and there will be a dog fight for playing time.
Missouri used to be known for their big and talented TEs, but that has seemingly gone away at least for now. Actually, the lack of good TEs seems to be a national trend right now.
Starting TE for next season should be Sean Culkin (6-6,245). He only had 1 catch a season ago but is a big kid and dripping with potential and was a freshman in 2013.
He should be pushed by Clayton Echard (6-4,255) or Jason Reese (6-5,240) out of the Dallas area. Incoming 3 star recruit Kendall Blanton (6-6,230) should redshirt.
The Tigers did lose some talent at WR, but they have the best in the country returning in Dorial Green-Beckham (6-6,225). Beckham had a break out season in 2013 and will do even better this season. In my opinion, this former #1 WR recruit is currently the #1 college receiver in the country. Sometimes recruiting rankings really do matter for those that think recruiting is overrated.
Bud Sasser (6-2,210) also returns with 26 catches under his belt. Jimmie Hunt (6-1,215) had 22 catches, and Texas transfer Darrius White (6-3,205) had 7 receptions. Levi Copelin (6-2,190) only had 3 catches but he was a freshman.
J’Mon Moore (6-3,190) is a redshirt freshman and fills the bill as far as tall receivers go, which seems to be popular at Mizzou. Wesley Leftwich (6-1,190) could be in the mix, but he hasn’t played much yet.
DeSean Blair (6-4,195) is a 4 star recruit out of Jacksonville and could play in a hurry and so could Lawrence Lee (5-10,165) another 4 star guy out of Florida.
3 star recruit out of Round Rock, Texas Keyon Dilosa (6-3,195) has that size that Missouri seems to like in their receivers as well.
Interesting news is that Dorial’s younger brother Darnell Green Beckham (6-2,175) is now on board. He lacks his older brother’s size but he could figure in at some point.
The Tigers had excellent receivers a year ago with a lot of size, speed and talent. Maybe the best and biggest group of college receivers I have seen and they will miss L’Dorian Washington very much. They still should be in great shape here with the returning players and more talent coming through the pipeline.
Evan Boehm (6-3,315) returns at Center and he’s a very good one. SEC has several good centers, and I rate Dismukes at Auburn as the best but Boehm is right up there.
Brad McNulty (6-4,300) could be his backup or he could move over to guard and compete with Anthony Gatti (6-6,315).
RG returns Connor McGovern (6-4,310)for his junior season.
RT has Mitch Morse (6-6,310) back for one more season.
LT should be either Taylor Chappell (6-5,300) or Jordan Williams (6-3,295)
Missouri’s top recruit in the 2014 class is OL Andy Bauer (6-4,305) from St Louis and he could play quickly.
Missouri’s offense should be pretty good again this season. They lost a few stars, but return some stars. They do return 3 out of 5 OL and if the 2 replacements come through it should be a good year.
Defense has some big losses including SEC defensive player of the year, Michael Sam, Kony Ealy who declared for the draft, leading tackler Andrew Wilson and several others. Sam announced he was gay and everyone made a big deal out of it, but Missouri coaches and fans probably are more concerned that he had 11.5 sacks last season and is no longer around. Ealy had 8 sacks as well, so the Tigers lose guys that produced 19.5 sacks last season and that’s a big loss.
Missouri lost both ends, but they played several guys a year ago which was fortunate for them.
Markus Golden (6-3,260) played a lot at DE last season and had 6.5 sacks. Shane Ray (6-3,245) also returns and he added 4.5 sacks.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Loud (6-4,275) has good size and could contribute. Sophomore Ricky Hatley (6-4,270) could push for playing time as well.
Rocel McWilliams (6-3,240) comes in from Florida and may play.
Matt Hoch (6-5,295) and Harold Brantley (6-3,290) both return at the DT positions. Hoch had 3 sacks and was one of the top tacklers.
The top back ups should be Lucas Vincent (6-2,305), Josh Augusta (6-4,300) and Evan Winston (6-3,290)
Three redshirt freshmen Nate Crawford (6-5,285), DeQuinton Osborne (6-1,310) and AJ Logan (6-2,310)
Two returning starters and plenty of depth at Tackle/Nose Guard.
Weak side backer Kentrell Brothers (6-1,240) returns and was the team’s fourth leading tackler. He is the only returning starter at LB.
MLB could be Michael Scherer (6-3,235) or last year’s back up WLB could slide over, Darvin Ruise (6-1,240).
Clarence Green (6-1,225) or Donavin Newsom (6-2,230) could start on the strong side.
In my opinion, unless somebody steps up Missouri has issues at LB. We will know after Spring is over.
The defensive backfield lost 3 out of 4 and it’s only returning starter is Braylon Webb (6-1,205) who also happened to have 3 Interceptions and was second on the team in tackles.
Ian Simon (6-1,195) played a lot last season and was 12th on the team in tackles so he should have the experience.
Corners John Gibson (6-1,185) and Aarion Penton (5-10,185) played a lot as freshmen and showed a lot of promise and should start at the corners.
Missouri’s front 4 is in good shape. The LBers will need people to step up and do it quickly. Defensive backfield lost most of it’s starters but return some talent and some poetential.
The offense should carry Missouri at the beginning of the year and hopefully whatever weakness remains with the defense can be ironed out at that time.