Since last season, there have been several positive developments in the rebuilding of Missouri’s offensive line. There’s still work to be done, but the Tigers have made significant progress in that regard.
The early returns strongly suggest that the off-season move of Evan Boehm to center is going to pay huge dividends. By the end of the spring, Boehm had all but eliminated snapping concerns. Not only does Boehm bring the physical size, strength, and athleticism to the position, but he also brings natural leadership qualities to the position, and what Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson calls “command presence”. Heading into fall camp, the sophomore, who has been named to the Rimington Award Watch List, is the leader of Missouri’s offensive line, and he is quickly becoming a team leader.
Another major positive development along the offensive line this off-season is the emergence of sophomore Connor McGovern, who took his game to a “whole other level” this spring, as he claimed the starting right guard position. McGovern, whom Coach Henson called “one of the most improved players on our team”, was named the team’s most improved offensive lineman this spring, and he drew the praise of his head coach.
“Connor McGovern is a different player now than he was a year ago,” said Coach Pinkel.
After beginning the 2012 season as the starting center, Mitch Morse will enter fall camp as the starting right tackle, his third position in the last 18 months. The athletic Morse is a veteran now, after holding down that right tackle spot for much of last season.
Following spring break, Justin Britt returned to his starting left tackle spot. Britt is another athletic lineman who provides leadership, in addition to a high level of play. That gives Missouri four quality starting offensive linemen heading into fall camp. During the early portion of fall camp, there will be an emphasis on identifying the fifth starter.
From my point of view, there are a limited number of preferred options. At the end of the spring, Max Copeland and Mitch Hall were splitting snaps with the first-team offense. That may very well continue this fall.
Taylor Chappell presents another viable option, as a starting tackle, which would allow one of the other starting tackles to move inside to play guard.
Another option is back-up guard/center Brad McNulty, who continues to improve.
Jordan Williams enjoyed a very productive off-season, and he has worked his way into the conversation. During an injury-plagued first year at Missouri, Williams has worked at every spot along the offensive line, and by the end of the spring, he was splitting second-team reps at right guard. Williams is a talent, and his continued development will be interesting to see.
Heading into fall camp, Anthony Gatti is listed at one of the back-up tackle spots. It appears that his primary challenge for that fourth tackle spot lies in the readiness of the true freshmen. At present, it appears that Clay Rhodes would be the most likely of the true freshmen to play a significant role along the offensive line this season.
While the Tigers have just four established starters to begin camp, there are enough candidates for that fifth spot to fill out the two-deep. As the Tigers head into fall camp, it’s going to be important for some of the young offensive linemen to continue to improve, and for everyone to remain healthy.
Replace the Depth Chart with:
LT 68 Justin Britt 6'6" 320 (S) 70 Anthony Gatti 6'6" 315 (J) 71 Harneet Gill 6’6” 280 (F) 72 Clay Rhodes 6’5” 285 (F)
LG 61 Max Copeland 6'3" 295 (S) 73 Mitch Hall 6'5" 320 (So) 51 Stephen Carberry 6'4" 300 (J) 59 Kyle Starke 6'4" 310 (So)
C 77 Evan Boehm 6'3" 315 (So) 63 Brad McNulty 6'4" 305 (So) 56 Robert Luce 6'2" 300 (J) 69 Mitch Hall 6’1” 285 (So) 57 Alec Abeln 6'3' 280 (F)
RG 60 Connor McGovern 6'4" 315 (So) 78 Nick Demien 6'6" 300 (J) 76 Jordan Williams 6'2" 275 (RSF) 66 Adam Plourde 6'4" 290 (F) 54 Nick Monaghan 6’2” 245 (So)
RT 65 Mitch Morse 6'5" 305 (J) 62 Taylor Chappell 6'5" 320 (So) 67 Mike Boddie 6'5" 295 (So) 79 Adam Franklin 6'0" 265 (So)