Injuries hammered Missouri in 2012. James Franklin, the team's starting quarterback, was in and out of the depth chart based on nagging injuries. Other positions were also hit hard, and impressive running back Henry Josey needed the entire season to continue recovering from blowing out his knee in a game in 2011. There's a case that can be made that Missouri would not have lit up the SEC East even without the injuries, but they also certainly would have done at least a bit better.
This year, Josey is back and Mizzou fans are hoping that Franklin can stay healthy. Pair that with some production from a few key players, and you could have the makings of a season that will pleasantly surprise Missouri fans. But it will require better fortune than the Tigers had last year.
BIGGEST RETURN | RB Henry Josey
And "return" here comes with a one-year delay. He sat out more than a full season with a knee injury, but the early reports out of Columbia this spring were encouraging. (HT: CBS) The Tigers should hope so. Kendial Lawrence was the only non-quarterback last year to carry the ball more than 46 times, when he had 200 rushing attempts for 1,102 yards and 12 touchdowns. If Mizzou is to come anywhere close to getting that kind of production out of the running game this year, they'll need Josey to return to his 2011 form, when he ran the ball 145 times for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns -- a jaw-dropping average of 8.1 yards per carry. Oh, and all that yardage an scoring came in a season where Josey played in 10 games and started eight of those. A full season at full speed could be just the kind of thing needed to help the offense get back on track after ranking next-to-last in yards per offensive play in the SEC in 2012.
BIGGEST LOSS | DT Sheldon Richardson
Richardson might best be known as the guy who talked about "old man football" in 2012, but he also a pretty good player. His 75 tackles were four off the team high and tied for second -- and Richardson played in just 11 games. Richardson had 10.5 tackles for loss, tied for tops on the time; four sacks, tied for second and 0.5 off the lead; hurried the quarterback seven other times and forced three fumbles. In short, he was kind of disruptive force that you need on the defensive line in the SEC. The only silver lining here is that Richardson is the only starter that's begin lost off the defensive line, according to Missouri's accounting, while two starters each are leaving the linebacking corps and the secondary.
BREAKTHROUGH POSSIBILITY | WR Dorial Green-Beckham
After being one of Missouri's most talked-about recruits in years, Green-Beckham had a relatively quiet first year. He played in11 games but started just one, catching 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns. That's an average of 14.1 yards per catch. If Green-Beckham is everything he was supposed to be coming out of high school, we should know this year. The passing game could get stronger as long as James Franklin remains healthy, and perhaps even if Corbin Berkstresser comes back and has to take the reins again as a more experienced backup. The passing game has to improve this year if Missouri's going to make much progress, and Green-Beckham will probably need to be a big part of that.