The Missouri Tigers are looking to make a comeback in year two of being in the SEC after finishing a disappointing 5-7 overall and 2-6 in conference play. The Tigers struggled with injuries to starting quarterback James Franklin and five of their top six offensive linemen in 2012, with an inexperienced back-up QB in Corbin Berkstresser, and reaching down on the depth chart to have a true freshman and even a walk-on start for most of the year along the line.
However, there is renewed hope for 2013 with a healthy Franklin having what was called "his best spring ever" since arriving at Mizzou according to head coach Gary Pinkel, along with the return of all everything running back Henry Josey, who was among the leading rushers in the nation during his sophomore year before suffering a major injury , and having to miss all of 2012.
Franklin and Josey will be led by new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, who was promoted from offensive line coach, to take over for former OC and QB coach David Yost. Yost resigned after last season and has since taken a job with Mike Leach at Washington State.
Henson will run an up tempo variation of the spread with some different looks from last year. He will look for Franklin to distribute the ball to a talented receiving corps led by former number one ranked recruit in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham. After starting slowly during his freshman campaign, Green-Beckham caught fire late in the season and showed flashes of why he was coveted by almost every school in the country. A strong spring has DGB looking poised to have a break- out season as a sophomore.
A few other weapons at Gary Pinkel's offensive disposal will include running backs Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, along with receivers Jimmie Hunt, Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington, plus red-shirt freshman tight end Sean Culkin.
Sophomore Evan Boehm played left guard as a true freshman but has moved to center to help shore up issues at the position. The move looked like a success in the spring.
vDefensively, the Tigers will really miss defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson's departure to the NFL. Richardson was selected in the first round by the New York Jets with the 11th pick overall.
It appears along the defensive line that some capable players have emerged at defensive tackle in Lucas Vincent, Matt Hoch and Harold Brantley, while defensive end will be a position of strength for them, with both talent and depth there. Junior Kony Ealy could be the next NFL defensive lineman from Mizzou who will be drafted highly when his time comes, and speedy ends Michaeal Sam and Shane Ray spend most of the spring in the backfield.
Leading tackler Andrew Wilson returns and will lead the linebackers with a move to the middle spot. Donovan Bonner and Kentrell Brothers both have experience, and the Tigers have some very good young talent coming up.
Senior E.J. Gaines will hold down the defensive backfield along with safety Braylon Webb. The battle for the other cornerback and safety spot is ongoing.
The Tigers appear solid at specials and with their kicking game.
A more favorable schedule in 2013, including a chance to get some pre-season wins under their belt to help grow on, along with the overall health in key positions have many feeling as though a return to their winning ways and bowling with happen this year.
2013 SEC Football Preview: Missouri
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