Missouri Poses New Challenge for SEC
By Matthew Osborne
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Under the direction of head coach Gary Pinkel, Missouri will bring a very unique offensive system into the SEC.
Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel is well aware of the prevailing sentiment about his team’s move into the SEC.
Despite experiencing tremendous success in the Big 12 over the past decade, most pundits believe that the Tigers will struggle to compete in the SEC East in their inaugural season in the conference.
One of the main reasons that the majority of experts believe that the Tigers will finish in the bottom half of the league this season is the thought that Missouri will be ill-prepared for the physicality and stylistic differences that await them in the SEC. Under Pinkel, Missouri employs a spread offense which relies on spreading the field and getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers in the open field.
While most of the country is focused on how Missouri will adjust to the style of SEC teams, the Tigers think that their new conference brethren should be concerned with how they will adjust to their unfamiliar system.
“I think that it’s just a little different style of football,” wide receiver T.J. Moe said of the differences between Missouri and the rest of the SEC. “They play football where they want to run right at you and out-muscle you and just pound the ball in the end zone. We spread them out wide, and we try to get guys in space and use our athletic ability to score one-on-one with a guy.”
Pinkel understands that many people are skeptical of how Missouri’s system will fare in the SEC, but says that has not deterred from the program from continuing to do what they know best.
“We have a system in place,” Pinkel said. “Are we changing how we recruit? No. Do we change how we train our players? No. We believe in what we do.”
That system should be able to score some points against the vaunted defenses they will line up against, as Missouri has a plethora of talented players at the skill positions. QB James Franklin accounted for nearly 4,000 yards of total offense last fall, while T.J. Moe has 148 career receptions.
The offense will undoubtedly be made even more proficient with the additions of OT Elvis Fisher, who missed last season due to injury, and true freshman WR Dorial Green-Beckham, who was ranked the No. 1 prospect nationally in the class of 2012.
Although Green-Beckham has yet to play a single snap of meaningful college football, you can already count Moe as a believer of his abilities.
“Well you just don’t see people that big do things that fast,” Moe said of his counterpart at receiver. “He has the body of a tight end with the speed of a wide receiver, and that’s what makes him special.”
Even with the talent of Green-Beckham and the remainder of the roster, Missouri has had to deal with the endless pessimism surrounding their move to the SEC.
Such pessimism is certainly frustrating, but has it given the Tigers a chip on their shoulders?
“I don’t think it’s a chip necessarily,” Pinkel said. “To me, it’s being a competitor. As a competitor, you get challenged a bit.
“Bottom line, you got to go out and prove yourself. I’m fine with it. I have no problem with it. Not going to make any predictions.”
As many people continue to wonder what Missouri’s move to the SEC will mean for the Tigers, maybe it is time to pose a different question: What will Missouri’s move to the SEC mean for the rest of the conference?
As is the case with most questions, only time will tell.