FOOTBALL 2013

Missouri football season preview

Updated: 2013-08-26T14:28:27Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

•  2012 record: 5-7 overall, 2-6 SEC (fifth in East Division)

•  Projected 2013 record: 8-4 overall, 4-4 SEC (fourth in East Division)

•  Key starters lost: DT Sheldon Richardson, RB Kendial Lawrence, LB Zaviar Gooden, WR T.J. Moe, LT Elvis Fisher, SS Kenronte Walker, CB Kip Edwards, LB Will Ebner, G Jack Meiners.

•  Key starters returning: CB E.J. Gaines, LB Andrew Wilson, QB James Franklin, DE Kony Ealy, LT Justin Britt, DT Matt Hoch, WR L’Damian Washington, C Evan Boehm.

•  Leader in the huddle: Senior quarterback James Franklin is looking for a bounce-back season after a disastrous 2012. Missouri has the speed, size and experience at the skill positions to make its spread offense work, but if the quarterback fails to get them the ball — something that happened far too often last season — even a stronger, healthier offensive line won’t be enough to get the Tigers to a bowl game.

•  Here’s the catch: The secondary. Despite the loss of tackle Sheldon Richardson, Missouri returns three starters on the defensive line and a thumper in the middle in linebacker Andrew Wilson. But aside from preseason all-SEC cornerback E.J. Gaines, the secondary is a question mark. Neither junior Braylon Webb nor senior Matt White, the projected starters at safety, had an interception last season, and every corner aside from Gaines must show more consistency.

•  End result: With 15 returning starters and an easier schedule, there’s no excuse not to win at least six games and go to a bowl. In fact, it would be a disappointment if the Tigers, who have a higher ceiling than that if Franklin fully recaptures his sophomore-year form, aren’t sitting at 4-0 entering their Oct. 5 game at Vanderbilt. After a difficult first season in the Southeastern Conference, it’s imperative for coach Gary Pinkel to finish with a winning record and keep the momentum of the program moving forward.

2013 schedule

Date Opponent Time Projection*
Aug. 31Murray State6 p.m.W
Sept. 7Toledo2:30 p.m.W
Sept. 21at Indiana7 p.m.W
Sept. 28Arkansas StateTBAW
Oct. 5at VanderbiltTBAW
Oct. 12at GeorgiaTBAL
Oct. 19FloridaTBAW
Oct. 26South CarolinaTBAL
Nov. 2TennesseeTBAW
Nov. 9at KentuckyTBAW
Nov. 23at MississippiTBAL
Nov. 30Texas A&MTBAL

| Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com | Projections by The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff

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