Missouri Closes Out Injury Plagued Spring
By Devan Scott
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
Missouri’s injury hampered spring has predominantly been about building depth in positions where they have injuries.
Ahh, spring games. Some people make a big deal out of them and read way too much into who could be the next big star for their team. Well, that was about all that was possible for the people from the Show-Me State to see on Saturday.
Returning starters were few and far between either due to injury or graduation. Henry Josey is a long-term absence at running back after a horrific knee injury last year which tore his MCL, ACL, and Patellar Tendon. He is unlikely to return to 100% before the fall. His replacement, senior Kendial Lawrence, looked good both last year and in the spring game, but questions still surround his ability to hold onto the football. Josey’s other possible replacement, Marcus Murphy, ran for 87 yards on 10 carries and would be expected to split time with Lawrence during the season.
QB James Franklin was sidelined with a shoulder injury that he is going to have surgery on, but is not expected to miss any time. That’s good news for the Tigers, with big SEC games early in the schedule. Although Corbin Berkstresser, a redshirt freshman, was impressive going 13 for 20 including an 88-yard bomb to Jimmie Hunt, that’s hardly enough to believe he could successfully lead the Tigers into September games against Georgia (Pronunciation for Missourians: Joe-Juh) or South Carolina (Sakerlina).
Left tackle Elvis Fisher, who missed all of last season after an injury in fall camp, will anchor an offensive line with plenty of experience, but also some new blood. Star receiver TJ Moe said, “It will be the first time we’ve been healthy since last August. We had Elvis Fisher go down and haven’t been healthy since.” Alongside Moe, the Tigers will try to replace all-everything tight end Michael Egnew. There are some solid looking options in Marcus Lucas and Jimmie Hunt, among other returning players.
On the defensive end of things, Mizzou looks to continue its dominance and run-stuffing ways. Coming from the Big 12, Mizzou does not have a nationally recognized defense, but are statistically one of the best programs against the run in the past few years. The defensive line will depend on returning DE Brad Madison and former five-star recruit Sheldon Richardson along with younger players, like the very highly-rated Kony Ealy. Mizzou brings back an underrated and stacked corps of linebackers led by Zaviar Gooden, Andrew Wilson, and Will Ebner. Darvin Ruise has also shown promise as an OLB. The secondary returns proven products Kip Edwards, Randy Ponder (who Gus Johnson can tell you all about), and rising star EJ Gaines at corner.
The safety position returns some experience at safety in Matt White and Tavon Bolden, but their places are not as secure as the corners.
Overall, Mizzou’s spring has not been like some where they plug in a new offense or work on defensive grit and intensity. Rather, Mizzou’s injury hampered spring has been more about building depth in positions where they have injuries. Berkstresser looks to be a potential replacement for Franklin down the road, although he will have to fight off some highly touted recruits. Marcus Murphy and Jimmie Hunt look to be products that will contribute this year and beyond. Darvin Ruise and Lucas Vincent could contribute on defense as well.
The big news, and the big reason why people from the Show-Me State turned out in fairly large numbers was the unveiling of Mizzou’s new jerseys. The jerseys, like the move to the SEC, are designed to bring in recruits and push Mizzou into the elite of the nation’s teams. While not quite as gaudy or ridiculous as Oregon’s jerseys, there is definitely the Nike influenced feel to them. All in all Mizzou has 24 potential jersey combinations for the new season. The most notable difference for many long-time Tiger fans is that the block "M" logo on the helmets has been replaced by the Tiger emblem. Administrators and designers noticed the "M" was frequently confused with Michigan or Minnesota and thought the Tiger logo would do a better job of expanding Mizzou as a national brand.
Pictures of the new jerseys can be seen here: http://www.southernpigskin.com/SEC/view/mizzous-new-branding-uniforms-for-sec