2013 Missouri Preview - Offense

Posted May 23, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Missouri Tiger Offense

Missouri Tigers

Preview 2013 - Offense

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What You Need To Know:  The offense has a few different things happening at once. Missouri was at its best over the years in the Big 12 when the passing game was efficient and fast. However, injuries on the line and at quarterback – and a severe case of SECitis – became a problem with no consistency, no efficiency and not enough physical play. The call has gone out for the team to be tougher, and it’ll start for offensive coordinator Josh Henson to get more out of a veteran line. Four starters are back, but it’s not built to line up and blast away on anyone. The backfield should be better with a healthy James Franklin fighting for the starting quarterback job, and star running back Henry Josey back after spending more than a year off rehabbing a knee injury. The strength is a loaded receiving corps with a host of NFL-looking targets led by Dorial Green-Beckham.

Returning Leaders
Passing: James Franklin
139-234, 1,562 yds, 10 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Marcus Murphy
46 carries, 251 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Marcus Lucas
46 catches, 509 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior TE Eric Waters
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C/G Evan Boehm
Best pro prospect: Green-Beckham
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Green-Beckham, 2) Boehm, 3) RB Henry Josey
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Experience
Weakness of the offense: Passing Efficiency, Physical Line


This is supposed to be when senior James Franklin was supposed to be coming into his own as one of the SEC’s most dangerous playmakers, but instead he’s fighting for his job. The 6-2, 230-pounder was never quite right last season with a slew of injuries and several unfair question marks about his toughness, but he did what he could for a struggling offense completing 59% of his passes for 1,562 yards and ten touchdowns with seven picks, and he ran for 122 yards, but he didn’t have anywhere near the same spark he showed as a sophomore. A smart decision maker with a nice, accurate arm and great mobility, he can do a little of everything and has the moxie to carry the attack at times. He was terrific against Florida, Tennessee and Syracuse late in the year – even with four picks thrown against the Gator D in the loss – and he showed off why he can be such a great weapon. Now he has to stay healthy and prove he can handle SEC life on a regular basis.

Sophomore Corbin Berkstresser came to Missouri as one of the team’s top recruits with 6-3, 225-pound size and a strong, accurate arm, and he was thrown to the fire right away with Franklin hurt. While he only completed 49.7% of his throws for 1,059 yards and five scores with seven picks, he ran well – finishing second on the team with three touchdowns – getting the call against Arizona State but having a nightmare of a time with Vanderbilt and Alabama. All the tools are there to be what the offense needs, but he has to be more accurate.

Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk is the X factor. The 6-1, 200-pound dual-threat playmaker has a cannon for an arm and unquestionable moxie. The two-time Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year was high school bomber, but he was also a track star with superior athleticism and speed. Other than his size, he has phenomenal tools, and this offseason he was good enough to make a push for the starting job.

Watch Out For … Trent Hosick and Eddie Printz. The 6-1, 230-pound Hosick is the higher rated prospect with running ability to go along with his midrange passing skills. The Kansas City native can do it all with the prerequisite accuracy for this offense with a baller’s mentality. The 6-3, 210-pound Printz is a different type of player with pro tools and downfield passing talent.
Strength: Options. For good and bad, there’s a quarterback controversy. Franklin hasn’t reclaimed his job quite yet with Mauk the better quarterback of the two at times this offseason and Berkstresser a good talent who just needs a bit more seasoning.
Weakness: Interceptions. Consistency was a problem for both Franklin and Berkstresser, and is showed with each throwing seven picks with 11 in the final six games. Mizzou is supposed to thrive with one of the nation’s most efficient passing games, but it was 13th in the SEC and 103rd in America.
Outlook: It’s actually a good situation, even with all the drama. It’s Franklin’s gig to lose, and while Mauk has made a massive push and Berkstresser could be the best on the lot if he gets a little more experience, the situation will probably be settled sooner than later. Healthy again, Franklin should look like a different player.
Unit Rating: 8

Running Backs

The program has been putting lots and lots of eggs in the Henry Josey basket. The hope has been for the full recovery of the 5-10, 190-pound junior from a brutal knee injury suffered in 2011 against Texas that knocked him out for the last year and a half, but he’s healthy again and he has his speed back – he’ll be one of the fastest backs in the SEC. When he was right, he was a weapon tearing off six 100-yard games in seven weeks with 263 yards and three scores against Western Illinois and 162 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M. Shifty through the hole and with just enough pop to get physical, he’ll be fresh.

Even with Josey back, 5-9, 185-pound junior Marcus Murphy will still play a huge role after finishing second on the team with 251 yards and a score averaging 5.5 yards per carry. While he was good for a few carries per game, his real worth was as a punt returner averaging 13.9 yards per pop with three scores. Lightning fast, he’s great no matter how he gets the ball in his hands. Also fitting the mold is 5-9, 185-pound sophomore Russell Hansbrough, a lightning-fast 5-9, 185-pounder who got in a little mop-up work as a true freshman running for 139 yards.

Watch Out For … Chase Abbington, a good enough prospect to possibly take over a key role in the rotation right away. The 6-2, 205-pounder could’ve gone almost anywhere, but he could be a workhorse back for the Tigers with good power and tremendous quickness. Tough, he was an excellent two-way player, but he’s going to be a do-it-all back for the offense very, very soon.
Strength: Speed and quickness. There’s no concern about SEC speed with this backfield. Josey has warp wheels again now that he’s healthy, and Murphy and Hansbrough can each move.
Weakness: Kendial Lawrence. The running game didn’t really work last season, and there’s a big hope that Josey is back to being Josey. Lawrence will be missed as a steadying force after running for 1,025 yards and 12 scores. He was one of the few parts of the offense that worked.
Outlook: Expect the Tigers to use a variety of backs to make sure that Josey doesn’t wear down, but don’t be shocked if Murphy and Hansbrough play bigger roles than many might think. The ground game only averaged 3.7 yards per carry, but the top two backs – Lawrence and Murphy – averaged over five yards per pop. The backs have the breakaway ability to bring up the average.
Unit Rating: 7.5


Okay, Dorial Green-Beckham, it’s time to start playing up to the hype. It’s not like the superstar, No. 1 overall recruit of the 2012 class was horrible, but even though he led the team with five touchdown catches, he didn’t blow anyone away considering the expectations catching just 28 passes for 395 yards. There were off-the-field issues and he disappeared for stretches in SEC play, but he came up with an 80-yard touchdown play in the five-point win over UCF, and he caught two passes for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the shootout against Tennessee. The light started to go on in the second half of the season with four touchdowns in the final three games, and everything seemed to kick in for him this offseason. Arguably the best wide receiver prospect out of high school in over a decade, he’s about to use his 6-6, 220-pound size and deep speed on the X to do far more.

While Green-Beckham is the star of the show, 6-5, 220-pound senior Marcus Lucas will still find a role on the outside after leading the team with 46 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns. He has the size and the wheels, but he didn’t come up with enough big plays. More steady than spectacular, he needs to take the top off of defenses with all the attention paid to the other targets.

6-4, 200-pound senior L’Damian Washington is another prototype target with size, speed and flash, averaging 17.7 yards per play with 28 catches for 443 yards and two scores hitting on big plays against Georgia and Texas A&M. While he might be the third receiver in the mix, he should be deadly doing more at the inside Z position.

Also working in the interior will be junior Bud Sasser, a 6-2, 210-pound blazer who only caught ten passes, but he averaged 23.1 yards per grab thanks to an all-timer of a stat – one catch, 101 yards, one score vs. Vanderbilt. The talent is there to do far, far more, but he’ll have to hold off Jimmie Hunt, a 6-1, 215-pound junior who’s dangerous whenever he has the ball in his hands. He returned a kickoff for a score against Tennessee and averaged 18.1 yards per catch making 11 grabs for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

The Tigers need more out of the tight ends after a disappointing year. 6-4, 245-pound senior Eric Waters is a good blocker, but he only caught four passes for 27 yards, A strong athlete with smarts, quickness and solid hands, he has basketball player athleticism with a world of upside. Now he needs the ball his way. 6-6, 240-pound redshirt freshman Sean Culkin has freakish tools with tremendous size and track speed and leaping ability. He’s an elite athlete who’ll be used like a big wide receiver.

Watch Out For … J’Mon Moore. There wasn’t much attention paid to the receivers with so many young talents waiting in the wings, but Moore is another good prospect to add to the mix. The 6-3, 185-pounder from Texas fits the Mizzou mold with size, athleticism and deep speed averaging over 20 yards per catch last season.
Strength: The prototypes. Missouri has an abundance of very tall, very athletic and very fast receivers. The Tigers have a slew of speedy basketball two guards who can stretch the field and create mismatches all over the field.
Weakness: The quarterback play. James Franklin is fine, but this receiving corps would blow up if a Blaine Gabbert-type was under center. This is an NFL-looking receiver that needs a big-time passing quarterback who can deliver the ball. There’s absolutely no excuse for this group to average 11.5 yards per catch again.
Outlook: The talent is there to be devastating. Green-Beckham has NFL skills and Lucas, Sasser, Washington and Hunt can all score from anywhere on the field. It’s up to the quarterbacks to deliver the deep ball and the coaching staff to put the offense in another gear to utilize all the talent.
Unit Rating: 8

Offensive Line

The line was a disappointment last season, but the big positive was the emergence of sophomore Evan Boehm, a 6-3, 315-pound blaster who showed he could be SEC-physical even at his young age. He stepped into the lineup at left guard and showed the upside to potentially be the team’s best blocker. Now he’ll get a long look at center – traditionally a glamour position under Gary Pinkel – where he’d be the leader up front for the next three years with good NFL upside. If he doesn’t move over, 6-4, 305-pound sophomore Brad McNulty will get the call again after starting five times. While he’s solid, he’s not as big or as nasty as Boehm.

If Boehm moves over, 6-5, 320-pound sophomore Mitch Hall will step into the role. The former Ole Miss Rebel spent last year on the sidelines after transferring over, and with his size and athleticism he should be a good fit for the Tiger line. The bulk is there to move to right guard if needed.

Senior Justin Britt has moved around and played where needed, stepping in for Elvis Fisher at left tackle a few years ago and seeing time at both tackle spots until going down with a knee injury late in the year. At 6-6 and 320 pounds he has the right size and the right frame with good athleticism, but he needs to be more consistent against the speed rushers. Smart as well as versatile, he could even move to center if absolutely needed, but his experience will be a plus at left tackle.

The right side is set, helped by the return of junior tackle Mitch Morse, seeing time at center as well as tackle when the line had injury issues. At 6-5 and 305 pounds he’s not massive, and he’s not the most talented all-around blocker, but the Austin, Texas native is physical and improving. Also back is right guard Max Copeland, a former walk-on who isn’t all that big at 6-3 and 295 pounds, and had to work hard to get up to his current weight, he came in from out of the blue and into a starter. He’ll never bury a top SEC defensive lineman, but he never takes a play off.

Watch Out For … Clay Rhodes, who has the look of the next great Missouri offensive lineman. A nice get for the program, he turned down LSU and Oklahoma to potentially be a strong tackle for the Tigers. It’ll take a few years with room to fill up his 6-5, 285-pound frame, but he has the skill and the talent to be fantastic.
Strength: Experience. The feisty Elvis Fisher’s career is finally over, but four starters are back along with McNulty and Hall, who should be ready to play big roles right away. The injury problems of last year will now pay off with veterans across the board. Last year was the get-the-feet-wet season.
Weakness: Physicality. This was a finesse line for a finesse offense, and once the SEC big boys rose up and started pounding away on the defensive front, the Tiger O line couldn’t generate a push. Granted, it’s not fair to judge a line by what it did against Alabama, Georgia or Florida, but the front five wasn’t consistent enough.
Outlook: The line needs a little consistency. It was a sore spot last year because of injuries, and there’s been enough shuffling to change up the lineup way too often. On the plus side, there’s enough experience returning to be better and more cohesive, but this group has to start imposing its will on a more consistent basis.
Unit Rating: 7
- 2013 Missouri Preview | 2013 Missouri Offense
- 2013 Missouri Defense | 2013 Missouri Depth Chart