The Missouri Tigers marked the end of 2011 with their first four game winning streak to end a season, since 1965. The Tigers hope to build off that momentum of an 8-5 season, capped by a 41-24 win over North Carolina, with a win over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday to usher in the SEC era.
The leader of the offense is quarterback James Franklin. He enters his second year as the #1 QB and the junior needs to get off to better starts and needs to show consistency. It has been a sense of frustration at times for Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who feels if Franklin becomes a consistent thrower, he can become an All-American quarterback.
Plenty of questions, injuries and changes on the depth chart. Here’s a look at Mizzou heading into week one.
On the injury front, running back Henry Josey will not play this year as he continues to rehab from his major knee surgery.
AUDIO Pinkel says Josey will be back (:30)
Center Travis Ruth is out with a torn triceps tendon and Pinkel said Ruth could be back for the final games of the season in November. Offensive lineman Jack Meiners, who suffered a knee sprain in the final scrimmage, may play vs. Georgia next week. Cornerback Kip Edwards who was originally listed as doubtful, has been elevated to questionable. If Edwards does not play this week, it is a good sign he could be back on the field for the Georgia game as well.
Junior Randy Ponder will start in place of Edwards, opposite of E.J. Gaines. With Ruth and Meiners out of the lineup for the offensive line, true freshman Evan Boehm will make his first collegiate start at LG. Max Copeland, who was battling Boehm for a starting job will start at RG. Meiners is the first true freshman to start on the offensive line in Pinkel’s era at Mizzou.
AUDIO Pinkel on the offensive line (1:00)
Other freshman who could not see playing time, but make contributions right away include Dorial Green-Beckham, who is listed #2 on the depth chart at the Y receiver position which is one of the inside positions. Pinkel says having the ability to move DGB in or out is a big advantage for the Tigers. #3 at the Y is another freshman Sean Culkin, who broke his finger and only saw action in four or five practices. The fact that he could get good playing time despite the limited worked shows his talent. With Josey out of the backfield, Kendial Lawrence, who emerged as a big leader this fall camp, and Marcus Murphy will get the bulk of the carries. However, Russell Hansbrough, a freshman from Arlington, TX, also shows great promise.
AUDIO Pinkel describes the Y position with DGB and Culkin (1:25)
The other big issue is the kicking game. Senior Trey Barrow and redshirt freshman Andrew Baggett can’t separate from each other in the kicking game. That decision by Pinkel will almost be a game time decision. While Pinkel talks of the importance of the kicking game, I’m not sure all of the blame can be placed on the kickers. Mizzou is trying out redshirt freshman Mitch Hall and freshman Jake Hurrell on snaps and T. J. Moe takes over as the new holder. New snappers, new holders…it has to affect the kicking game.
AUDIO Pinkel on the kicking battle (:45)