TIGERS at a GLANCE
LOCATION: Columbia, Mo.
COACH: Gary Pinkel — At Missouri: 102-63, 13 years; overall: 175-100-3, 23 years
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Josh Henson
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Dave Steckel
LAST LEAGUE TITLE: 1969, Big 8 co-champions
LAST BOWL: 2012
RETURNING STARTERS: 10; 4 offense, 4 defense, kicker, punter
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Maty Mauk, RB Marcus Murphy, WR Bud Sasser, C Evan Boehm, DE Markus Golden, DE Shane Ray, LB Kentrell Brothers, SS Braylon Webb
PRIMARY STRENGTHS: Only Auburn had a more potent running game than Missouri last year in the SEC, and MU returns two seasoned backs and adds two freshmen to the mix. The defensive line should be stout again, especially along the edges. Mauk showed glimpses of being an impact player last fall and now he’s a year advanced in the offense.
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: The defense is breaking in two new starters at linebacker and cornerback, and the offense won’t be as experienced along the line. The loss of WR Dorial Green-Beckham was a blow to a passing game that doesn’t have another established big-play threat.
Missouri Out to Prove ’13 Season Was No Fluke
Missouri has to replace its leading passer, rusher and top three receivers from last year’s 12-win team that averaged a school-record 490.7 yards per game. But there’s no doubt about the new leader of the offense.
Quarterback Maty Mauk seized that role in the spring. Mauk started four games for an injured James Franklin last fall and led MU to three SEC wins, while posting the fifth-best single-season passer rating (143.1) in team history.
With Dorial Green-Beckham’s dismissal in April, Bud Sasser, a 6-2 senior, moved from his slot posi- tion to the outside to replace the team’s most lethal deep target. Darius White, a transfer from Texas, will be another outside target, with Levi Copelin and Jimmie Hunt attacking defenses from the slot.
At tailback, Henry Josey is gone but more-than-capable backups Marcus Murphy (6.5 yards per carry last year) and Russell Hansbrough (6.0) are back to split the load. Gary Pinkel’s staff jumbled its offensive line some, moving Mitch Morse from right tackle to left tackle, and Connor McGovern from right guard to right tackle.
Anthony Gatti, a senior who’s played mostly tackle, settled in as the new starter at left guard, while Mitch Hall, the group’s biggest starter at 6-5, 320 pounds, came out of spring as the top right guard. Evan Boehm, a starter in every game the last two years, returns to anchor the line at center.
The Tigers return ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray, backups last year who combined for 11 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. Golden, a powerful bull rusher off the edge, might be the best player on the roster, despite not starting a game since the 2010 season, when he was a junior college linebacker.
The two ends will flank a deep set of defensive tackles, led by seniors Lucas Vincent and Matt Hoch.
Mizzou replaces two starters at linebacker, including three-time season tackles leader Andrew Wilson in the middle, but coordinator Dave Steckel has a stockpile of young linebackers ready to complement returning starter Kentrell Brothers, who’s coming off April shoulder surgery.
Sophomores Aarion Penton and John Gibson are in line to handle the cornerback jobs. Braylon Webb, a three-year starter, is back at strong safety, and Ian Simon, last year’s nickel back, is the top option at free safety.
The Tigers return punter Christian Brinser and kicker Andrew Baggett, plus their snapper and primary return specialist Marcus Murphy.
The Tigers return some key pieces from last year’s 12-win team and Mauk looks to be the next franchise quarterback to lead the no-huddle spread attack. But the defense has to win the line of scrimmage again and generate pressure from its front four to match last year’s unit. Offensively, if the Tigers can identify impact playmakers to support Mauk, they have a chance to reach last year’s success.
WR J’Mon Moore: The Missouri City, Texas, native might have played as a true freshman if not for the team’s depth at receiver last season. Moore (6-3, 190) now will figure into the mix at outside receiver and could become the team’s deep threat to replace dismissed star Dorial Green-Beckham.
*For a more in-depth analysis on the Missouri Tigers go to the following link to order your SEC preview or you can order digitally via Google Play or the App Store. http://store.lindyssports.com/product.php?cn=910