New Year’s Day is all about celebrating a new beginning. The whole world can put last year behind them and focus on what’s ahead of them. After beating Minnesota 33-17 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the Missouri Tigers can now leave behind some of the disappointment that came with the 2014 season and look forward to the upcoming season.
It’s tough to complain about what the Tigers did this season. Missouri finished with an 11-3 record, including a 7-1 conference record, and in doing so showed the disbelievers that 2013 wasn’t a fluke. When you look at the loss to Indiana at home and the blowout loss to Georgia, however, you see that this great year could have been so much better.
2014 is in the past though. With it, go Markus Golden, Marcus Murphy, Mitch Morse, Darius White and other seniors that have shaped this school into an SEC contender. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, star defensive end Shane Ray will also be gone as well.
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Despite all of the players moving on, there is plenty to look forward to for the Missouri Tigers.
First off, we can take a look at who is coming back. Like it or not, quarterback Maty Mauk will most likely retain his starting role in his junior season. Mauk has been a roller coaster ride for his entire collegiate career, but hopefully he can gain some consistency this offseason.
While Mauk is viewed as the “present” of Mizzou football, 2015 will mark the beginning of the “future” of Mizzou football, when 4-star recruit Drew Lock starts his collegiate career. While it is unlikely Lock will play at all next year, it will be his first opportunity to work with coach Gary Pinkel and the staff to prepare for his time in the limelight.
As for the rest of the offense, some important role players will be back next season. Running back Russell Hansbrough will continue to receive a majority of the carries, while Ish Witter will see an increased role with the departure of Murphy. On the offensive line, center Evan Boehm will return for his senior year, as he continues to work toward a shot at the NFL.
South Bound & Down
Unfortunately for Mizzou, the Tiger defense will lose some important people. Sack artists Golden and Ray will most likely be gone, and defensive tackle Harold Brantley might leave school a year early as well. That would mean that the Tigers would have three new starters on the line going into next season.
Luckily for Missouri, they have a good chance at landing one of the best recruits in the nation in defensive end Terry Beckner Jr. At 6’4″ and 290 pounds, Beckner Jr. would bring the size and speed needed in the SEC.
Overall, it might look scary looking at the names leaving the school this year. But if you remember back to last season, it was the same story. Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Henry Josey, and Justin Britt all left the program last year, and the media said the team was doomed without them. If doomed means winning the SEC East, I can’t wait for the Tigers to be doomed next season.