Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Missouri's move to the SEC in 2012 did not go as
smoothly as it had hoped. After qualifying for a bowl game in each of the
previous seven seasons while members of the Big 12 Conference, Gary Pinkel's
squad pieced together a lackluster 5-7 campaign (2-6 in the SEC).
The Tigers failed to win back-to-back games at any point during the season.
They also could not take advantage of a home-heavy schedule, going just 3-4 at
Faurot Field. Their only wins in the SEC game against Kentucky (33-10) and
Tennessee (51-48 in OT), the two teams that finished below the Tigers in the
SEC West standings.
Missouri had one of nation's toughest roads in terms of strength of schedule,
and it failed to play up to its level of competition. During the course of the
season it lost games to Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Texas
A&M, all of which where ranked in the top-10 when the matchup was played.
Mizzou also dropped a contest to Vanderbilt (19-15), which finished the season
ranked No. 23.
After catching some tough breaks in 2012, Pinkel is ready to prove his team's
worth this fall.
"We lost five of our top 10 offensive linemen and our starting quarterback (to
injuries)," Pinkel said. "We're very, very hungry, and we're excited to get
back in and compete."
OFFENSE: The Tigers were bit hard by the injury bug last season, and that
combined with the tough defenses of the SEC resulted in a big down tick in
offensive production from the year before (25.8 ppg, 356.4 ypg).
After an impressive sophomore season, quarterback James Franklin took a step
back as a junior, completing less than 60 percent of his passes for 1,562
yards, 10 TDs and seven interceptions, while missing three whole games and
parts of others with injuries. His head coach is optimistic for a rebound in
"I really felt bad for him because of all these things that happened to him,"
Pinkel said of his quarterback. "The year before he didn't miss a game ... But
he had a great spring. He's healthy now. I think he's driven, like we all are,
to get back to winning, because that's what we do at Missouri."
Luckily for Franklin, he'll have many of his top receiving targets back.
Marcus Lucas led the squad with 46 receptions and 509 yards while adding three
touchdowns. Dorial Green-Beckham (28 rec, 395 yards, five TDs) was one of the
most highly-touted high school recruits two years ago and is poised for a
breakout campaign. L'Damion Washington (25 rec, 443 yards, two TDs) is also a
The loss of Kendial Lawrence (1,025 yards, 12 TDs) is huge, but the Tigers
hope to not skip a beat with Henry Josey supplanting him as the starting
tailback. Josey was outstanding as a sophomore in 2011 (1,168 yards, nine
TDs), but he missed all of 2012 while recovering from a knee injury.
DEFENSE: Missouri's defense was behind the SEC learning curve a season ago, as
it was one of the weakest units in the league (28.4 ppg, 390.7 ypg). The loss
of Sheldon Richardson (75 tackles, 10.5 TFL, four sacks, three FF) and Will
Ebner (75 tackles, 10.5 TFL) certainly doesn't help matters, but enough talent
returns to remain hopeful for improvement.
Andrew Wilson will lead the linebacking corps once again. He paced the team
last year with 79 tackles and had a nose for the football as well with four
The secondary remains largely intact. E.J. Gaines is a physical corner who
made 74 tackles and seven TFL in 2012, and Braylon Webb was also solid with 64
tackles, but the crew needs to make more big plays as they tallied just seven
Michael Sam (seven TFL, 4.5 sacks) and Kony Ealy (10 TFL, 3.5 sacks) make up a
strong defensive end duo.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Andrew Baggett made 14-of-20 field goal attempts last season,
but he was shaky from beyond 40 yards (5-of-9). Christian Brinser will take
over punting duties for Trey Barrow
Marcus Murphy is one of the best return specialists in the nation, earning
First Team All-SEC honors a year ago after racking up 458 kick return and 374
punt return yards, including a school-record four return scores (three punt,
one kickoff). He was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week twice.
OUTLOOK: Unlike the other SEC newcomer last season (Texas A&M), Missouri
struggled to get off the ground, but Pinkel is chalking up the 2012 season as
a learning experience and is looking forward to getting back to action.
"I think we certainly understand how great it is to be in the SEC," Pinkel
said. "The SEC is what I thought it was going to be. Certainly it's remarkably
competitive ... We're ready to get going. We're excited about this season
Even if the Tigers do enjoy an improved season, there's very little chance it
will be able to compete with Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU in the SEC West,
especially considering their difficult schedule that includes matchups with
eight bowl teams from last year. Still, the Tigers have the ability to steal a
few of those games and get back to bowl eligibility themselves.
The Sports Network