Missouri football played its first season in the Southeastern Conference last season. The Tigers endured a harsh first lesson in the SEC, finishing 2-6 in the Eastern Division. A string of crucial injuries and narrow defeats resulted in a 5-7 overall record as Missouri failed to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
Now in his 14th year at the helm, head coach Gary Pinkel is prepping the Tigers for their second season in the always-competitive SEC with seven returning starters on offense and six more on defense.
The Missouri Tigers have some intriguing players to keep an eye on for 2013. Quarterback James Franklin returns for his senior season after a 2012 campaign that included 1,562 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Franklin has a potential big-time wide receiver in Dorial Green-Beckham. After getting used to he college game as a freshman (395 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns), Green-Beckham is on track to be a top target as a sophomore. He hauled in three passes for 49 yards in Mizzou’s spring game and was hailed as the team’s most improved wide receiver. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Green-Beckham presents a big target for Franklin and an imposing presence for opponents.
The Tigers’ running game could get a boost with the return of Henry Josey, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Josey (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) ran for 1,168 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry in 2011 and will provide depth along with Marcus Murphy (251 rushing yards in 2012).
Defensively, plenty of attention will be given to cornerback EJ Gaines, who is considered by many as one of the top on-ball defenders in the SEC. Gaines led the team with 11 pass break ups in 2012 and posted a career-high 74 tackles.
Missouri’s regular season kicks off August 31 when the Tigers welcome non-conference foe Murray State to Faurot Field on Military Appreciation Day. The Tigers’ SEC schedule begins on the road with games at Vanderbilt Oct. 5 and Georgia Oct. 12. Faurot Field will be filled by fans wearing gold Oct. 19 as Missouri takes on Florida in the annual Gold Rush game. The Tigers will host South Carolina the following Saturday in their 102nd Homecoming game.
The regular season concludes No. 30 with a home date against Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.