Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Midseason report: Missouri
By Edward Aschoff
Record: 3-4 (0-4 SEC)
It’s been a very, very rough start for Missouri in its new home. The Tigers are starting to realize just how physical things are in the nation’s toughest conference, and the confidence they came in with has slowly washed away with the Tigers getting outscored by 78 points in SEC play.
Making matters worse is that this team has been stuck in the infirmary. The starting five on the offensive line that Missouri entered preseason camp with looked vastly different from the lines that have gone out each week because of injuries across the board. Travis Ruth has yet to play this season, while Jack Meiners has played some, but recently had knee surgery that will keep him out a few weeks.
Adding to the Tigers’ pain is the fact that quarterback James Franklin can’t stay healthy. First, it was his shoulder, now he’s dealing with a knee injury that will keep him out a few weeks. This offense just hasn’t found any sort of continuity with Franklin being in and out of the lineup, as Mizzou is 12th in the SEC in total offense (323.7 yards per game) and 11th in scoring (23.1).
The defense has held its own for the most part, but not getting much help from the offense has worn it out. The biggest bright spot might be punt returner Marcus Murphy, who leads the nation with three touchdowns and is third nationally in return average (18.9).
Offensive MVP: RB Kendial Lawrence: He’s been Missouri’s most consistent offensive player this season. The Tigers might not get much out of their passing game, but Lawrence has been a true workhorse for this team, rushing for 524 yards and five touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry so far.
Defensive MVP: DT Sheldon Richardson: He might be Mizzou’s best overall player. Richardson has been a beast up front for the Tigers, leading Mizzou with 52 tackles, 7.5 for loss and four sacks. He’s been one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the entire conference this season, and had career-high 14 tackles against Alabama.