Ex-Cowboy Josh Henson Now Coaches Tigers

Part of the fun of playing Missouri in the 78th Cotton Bowl Classic will be seeing old friends. Many of us know some of the coaches, players or support staff at Mizzou. It wasn't that long ago, just 2011 with a trip to Columbia, that Oklahoma State faced Missouri in the final matchup against a school it had been playing as a conference rival for over 50 years. Now it's Missouri in a bowl game.

One of the old friends on the other side of the Cotton Bowl matchup will be Chris Gervino, the sideline reporter on the Tigers Radio Network and college roommate of our own "Voice of the Cowboys" Dave Hunziker.

But yet another that will be calling plays for the Tigers is former OSU offensive guard and assistant coach Josh Henson. Henson is now the offensive coordinator for the Tigers, having risen up the coaching ranks.

His Missouri offense this season has averaged close to 490 total yards a game with a balanced philosophy. The Tigers average close to 240 rushing yards and close to 250 passing yards per game. Of course, Missouri is 11-2 coming off a loss in the SEC Championship Game to Auburn.

"It was a good year. Obviously, though, when you lose your starting quarterback, you know it gives you real concern," Henson said. "I thought our backup, Maty Mauck, came in and protected the football. I think he threw one interception in that whole time and was still attacking down the field and got the ball to our receivers and was throwing a few touchdowns.

"I think the biggest thing was players really set their mind to have a good season after not having one the previous year. I think our biggest change was in our attitude."

What makes Henson's job so fun is the weapons he has on offense, and many of them were playing for the Tigers the last time the Cowboys teed it up with Mizzou in 2011. Quarterback James Franklin was the starter two years ago as a young sophomore.

Running back Henry Josey was injured in that season with multiple torn ligaments in his knee and he has rebounded well in a great story. The Tigers also have monster receiver recruit from two years ago in Dorial Green-Beckham.

"We do, we have a lot of weapons and Henry (Josey) is over a thousand yards this season and we have two other guys there that have rushed for 700 yards and 500 yards and they are all interchangeable and can all play," Henson explained. "They are all about the same size and we feel good about all those guys running the ball for us.

"At receiver, we have Dorial Green-Beckham and he really came on for us and finished the season strong (with more than 800 receiving yards). We have L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas, and those guys have all had good seasons for us," continued the former Cowboys tight end coach.

"They are really good players. The offensive line has played really well and we've been injury free. We have a lot of playmakers and it has been fun."

Henson left OSU with Les Miles for LSU and helped coach the Tigers to a national championship along with Miles. He left LSU to come back to the Big 12 and a chance for more responsibility in the offense as full offensive line coach at Missouri.

Little did he know he wouldn't be back in the Big 12 for long as Missouri made that move two seasons ago to the SEC.

"I think it has turned out to be a pretty good move for Mizzou," Henson analyzed. "I know there were a lot of things going on at that time and may still be going on but the way I look at it is they put a game in front of us and it's our job to go win it."

Because of his experience at LSU he was consulted by Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel when everything was going on.

"I think one of the biggest things that I tried to get to coach, and I think the same thing has happened in the Big 12 with the investment in Oklahoma State and at TCU and the stadium being built at Baylor, is that if we were going to make the change the athletic department was going to have to step up and they have," Henson added. "Mizzou is doing those things to help us be competitive."

Henson remembered that his son Will was born in Stillwater a few days before OSU beat Nebraska for the first time since 1961. Will is now 11 years old and Josh and his wife, Shauna, also have a daughter, Kate, that was born while he was at LSU.

He is looking forward to seeing Mike Gundy, who sent him home on the day his son was born even when Henson showed up for practice. It will be all business though at AT&T Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 3.

"Both teams have kind of had very similar seasons," Henson said. "Neither one had it end the way they wanted and now we have the chance to play each other to get that ending we want. I think both teams defenses have improved tremendously.

"Our defense struggled with Auburn, but the week before held Johnny Manziel to 21 points. I think both offenses are explosive and can score points when they need to. I think it will be a great game and it will be fun for me to see old friends and old faces. We will all want to win and finish the season the way we want on a high note."

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