Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of Missouri’s offensive struggles during 2012 is the quality and depth of the Missouri receiving corps. The Tigers really do have a number of quality receivers! But injuries and ineffective play along the offensive line and at quarterback limited the impact of Missouri’s talented corps of receivers.
The Tigers had seven receivers with at least 10 receptions on the season, in addition to TB Kendial Lawrence’s 18 receptions, and TB Marcus Murphy’s 9 receptions. But for the first time in years, a tight end was not among that number. The lone tight end to see significant playing time for Missouri in 2012 was junior Eric Waters, who finished the season with 4 receptions for 27 yards.
Although Waters made seven starts, the reality is that for much of 2012, Missouri utilized a wide receiver in place of the tight end. Senior Gahn McGaffie usually lined up in the slot at the designated Y receiver position, and he enjoyed the best season of his career, with 33 receptions for 266 yards (8.1 yards/reception). McGaffie was a reliable possession-type receiver, who despite his lack of size, was fearless in going over the middle. He split time in that slot position with true freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, who was just about the opposite of the possession receiver. Green-Beckham was erratic and inconsistent early in the season, although he later developed into one of the Tigers' more reliable receivers. The mega-talented freshman, who had 28 receptions for 395 yards (14.1 yards/reception), was Missouri’s ultimate big-play receiver, as he led Mizzou with his 5 receiving TDs. By season’s end, Green-Beckham was the one that Missouri fans wanted to see on the field, and the combination of his size, strength, and run-after-catch ability helped to make him a preferred passing target.
The usually reliable T.J Moe did not enjoy his best season. The senior in the slot put up respectable receiving numbers for a possession-type receiver, including 40 receptions for 399 yards (10.0 yards/reception) and 1 TD, but he dropped just too many passes for a possession receiver. Moe finished his distinguished Missouri career with 188 career receptions, which ranks 5th in school history, 2101 receiving yards, which ranks 8th in school history, and 3112 career all-purpose yards, also 8th in school history.
Dropped passes also plagued junior outside receiver Marcus Lucas, who led Missouri in receptions and receiving yards. Lucas began the season as the starter at the X receiver position, and finished the season with 46 catches for 509 yards (11.1 yards/reception) and 3 TDs. But drops led to the loss of his starting role near mid-season, before he regained a share of the starting job near season’s end.
Junior L’Damian Washington started all 12 games for Missouri. He began the season at the Z receiver position, before moving to the X near mid-season. Washington showed the big play ability that his deep speed affords, and he finished the season with 25 receptions for 443 yards (17.7 yards/reception) and 2 TDs.
A pair of sophomore receivers took on increasingly larger roles throughout the season. Bud Sasser took over the starting job at the Z receiver position at mid-season, and he finished the season with 10 receptions for 231 yards (23.1 yards/reception) and 1 TD. Ever since his arrival at Missouri, Sasser has shown the ability to catch the deep ball in traffic, and this season, the Tigers finally started to utilize this young, talented receiver.
Another play maker who has languished on the sidelines for too long made the most of a few opportunities, and earned himself more and more playing time as the season progressed. Along the way, sophomore Jimmie Hunt has turned into Missouri’s best perimeter blocker, and he continued to show that if you get him the football, he’ll find the end zone. Hunt finished with 11 receptions for 199 yards (18.1 yards/reception) and 3 TDs.
In addition, Hunt had 4 rushing attempts for 28 yards (7 yards/carry), and he returned 3 kickoffs for 110 yards, including an 87-yarder for a TD.
Through two seasons in which Hunt has been seriously under-utilized, he has 12 career receptions for 253 yards (21.1 yards/reception) and 4 TDs. That’s a touchdown for every 3 receptions! Can you say play maker? I’m reminded of former Philadelphia Eagles coach Billy Ryan who once complained of Hall of Fame receiver Chris Carter, that “all he does is catch touchdowns”.
To be fair, Missouri’s entire receiving corps was under-utilized during 2012, the result primarily of an oft-injured QB, and a beaten-up and ineffective offensive line. Missouri often struggled to sustain drives, and to keep their offense on the field. And as a result, the Tigers ran far fewer offensive plays in 2012 than they had in recent seasons. In addition, too often there simply wasn’t enough time for the QBs to get the ball to their receivers.
Still, Missouri’s receiver corps was one of their strengths offensively, and their biggest play makers gained valuable experience for the future.