With one-third of the 2013 regular season completed for 4-0 Missouri, and heading into the conference schedule, the Tigers offense ranks 7th nationally in total offense (549 yards/game), and 8th nationally in scoring offense (45.5 points/game). Missouri is also among the nation’s leaders in third-down efficiency and with their efficiency in the red zone with respect to scoring touchdowns. Missouri leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing (262.2 yards/game, 6.2 yards/carry). Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson talked about his offense.
“I think we’re executing better,” said Coach Henson. “I think we’re playing better up front, which is giving us a little bit better opportunity to be successful. And, I think James (Franklin) is just more and more comfortable every day with seeing things, and seeing coverages. You know, he’s doing some things with his reads and things that I just think are really good.”
Coach Pinkel talked about some of what went into his decision to promote Coach Henson as Missouri’s offensive coordinator.
“What I did is we talked about just kind of potentially the direction that we could go,” explained Coach Pinkel providing a little bit of insight into the process of his decision to promote Coach Henson. “I did not want to change the whole offense. I wanted to run a spread offense. I think it was important. We talked a little bit about tempo, talked about some different schools that are doing some things. We talked a little bit about play-action passing, moving the quarterback in the pocket a little bit more, some things like that to kind of take some of the pressure off. If you’re doing a quick game and a drop-back game the whole time, the pressure on the offensive line to perform all the time is significant. When you do play-action, that slows down the rush. When you move the quarterback around, as far as sprinting out or bootlegs and things like that, that slows it down, in combination with screens and things like that. Basically, those are the things we talked about. I’m pretty much open to anything within what a spread offense is. And, there’s many directions to go. What we did is he just kept me in line with what was happening, kept me informed with kind of the direction as they were kind of putting in, with what we want to do. I thought some of the changes were a plus. A lot of it is the same. We didn’t want to make this drastic, drastic change, if I could help it, for our players.”
Coach Henson said that he’s thankful for the opportunity afforded him.
“When you get your opportunity, you’ve got to make the most of it,” said Coach Henson. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’m very blessed. Hopefully, we can keep doing well and make the most of it.”
Then, Coach Henson admitted that he hasn’t been out of the office since the season began, except for attending “two little league football games.”
Coach Pinkel talked about how he tried to prepare Coach Henson as a play-caller during 11-on-11s during the spring and fall, which is practice that he said that he would have wanted for himself prior to calling his first game at Washington. He said that in college football, on-field results determine how well you’re doing.
“He’s doing a good job,” said Coach Pinkel, referring to Coach Henson’s play-calling. “And obviously, the more things work, when things work, they’re a good job. We all understand the business.”
Coach Henson was asked about how he’s doing in his new job as Offensive Coordinator?
“I think as you go through games, you maybe start to get a feel for what you’re good at, what your guys execute well, ” explained Coach Henson, talking about his own job performance. “I mean, you always got to mix that with, you know obviously we’re playing against good coaches and good teams, so if you’re doing the same thing over and over again, they’re going to find a way to stop it to a certain extent. I feel comfortable with where we’re at. I think we’re doing pretty good. It’s just like anything. You’ve got to keep getting better. You can’t say, “We’re there”. I’ve never been on a team where it was like, “We’re there.” There’s always something you can get better at.”
He talked about what’s making Missouri’s league-leading running game successful.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” explained Coach Henson. “Their vision, the (backs) are seeing their cuts well. I think we’re getting then downhill in the hole a little faster. And, I think the offensive line is playing better. I think it’s just a combination of all of those things.”
“When I watch (our top three tailbacks), I don’t feel like, I mean, maybe there’s some slight differences in there in what they can do,” explained Coach Henson. “But I don’t really feel like, I mean, I haven’t called a play yet this year where I was like, “Make sure this guy is in.” I mean, I’m just calling the plays. I feel like all of those guys can go in for any of the plays that we’re doing. I think Coach Jones probably has a better feel for that than anybody, because he watches them closely every day. He knows what they’re thinking and how they adjust to things. You know, I think for the most part, all three of those guys can do what we’re asking them to do. They’re real good players.”
Coach Henson talked about eliminating the distractions of playing conference games. He reiterated that Missouri’s offense can be better. He explained that there are things that he can do to help to put his players in better position to be successful, and that they can continue to improve with respect to their execution.
“I think you’ve just got to go one game at a time,” explained Coach Henson. “I think you’ve got to go out every day, and work on the little things that you need to get better at, that we need to do to get better as an offense, and how we can execute better. That’s what takes care of the (distractions)…………………………………… I think we’re up to the challenge.”