HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – Of last season's newcomers to the Southeastern Conference, Missouri was the most disappointing team. The Tigers finished the season 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the conference.
Statistically, the Tigers suffered because of injuries to their offensive line and quarterback corps. The typically powerful offense struggled to adjust at times to the rigors of SEC play.
In 2013, with a quarterback corps that returns after a widely disappointing season, Missouri is looking to get back to the postseason. Senior quarterback James Franklin, who was at the bottom of the conference in pass efficiency along with his backup Corbin Berkstresser, has to perform at a higher level for the Tigers to compete in the league.
"James had more injuries than I think any I've ever had combined," Head Coach Gary Pinkel said. "What he went through, he missed three starts, and he didn't finish three other games. He pretty much played about half the season."
The obvious result of the inevitable shuffling of quarterbacks was a lack of consistency and cohesion on the offensive side of the ball. That situation made it difficult for the Tigers to adjust to the challenges they faced in their first season in the SEC.
"Last year obviously was a difficult year for us. We're used to winning," Pinkel added. " We had some adversities we didn't overcome. So our players, I think, have worked tremendously hard; the staff has worked tremendously hard. I'm excited that August is close by and we get a chance to get back out and compete."
The Tigers enter 2013 with 14 returning starters, including sophomore wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham, who was one of the nation's top recruits coming out of high school, didn't have quite the freshman campaign that Missouri fans were hoping for, but with a year under his belt, he should be markedly better.
"I think for all our perimeter players, it was a difficult year because of our offensive line problems and our quarterback problems," Pinkel explained. "I thought [Green-Beckham] did a lot of good things, without question. He's a guy that's a lot different player than a year ago. We saw glimpses as the season went on. He's a special athlete. He's a great kid, got a great work ethic. He's a great team player. So all those things I think are going to help him realize his potential."
As the Tigers move forward towards the opening of fall camp, they're ever aware of what is expected of them in their new setting in the SEC.
"I think we certainly understand how great it is to be in the SEC. People ask me, ‘What did you learn from the SEC after your first year into it?' The SEC is what I thought it was going to be. It's a line-of-scrimmage league," said Pinkel. "We're proud to be a member of the SEC. I'm excited about it. It's remarkably competitive, that's why I'm glad we're in it."
Now, with football season just around the corner, Missouri will soon have the chance to be to show what they have learned and what progress they have made in their second year in the conference.
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