New Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson is going to be a popular and targeted man over the next six months leading into fall camp. Henson was promoted within and took over for the known David Yost, who resigned in December for ‘personal reasons’ after a tumultuous season. Now, Henson takes the reigns of one of the most underachieving and head-scratching offenses in the country.
Yost had been the offensive coordinator for the last four seasons, but he had been with Gary Pinkel and Missouri for 12 years and was always known as a dynamic recruiter. He was arguably one of the top quarterback coaches in the country and helped develop Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert in Mizzou’s spread offense. Not only that, but since Yost took over the offense in 2009, the Tigers averaged 29 points per game or more and finished 12th in the country in total offense in 2011, including averaging over 244 rushing yards per game. Then excelling and emerging quarterback James Franklin had much to do with those admirable numbers.
But after an injury-filled and frustrating season that saw Missouri’s offense fade into black, Yost resigned, and co-offensive line coach Josh Henson was promoted to take over the reigns of the backwards unit.
Missouri fans should be looking forward to seeing Henson as the new offensive coordinator, and here’s why:
More of a power offense: One of the biggest reasons Missouri’s offense struggled, aside of injuries, was the scheme. In order for a dominant spread-based attack to work in the SEC, it has to have truly dynamic personnel to run it. And Franklin clearly wasn’t the same player he was in ‘11, and Berkstresser isn’t Franklin. But the offense didn’t change or was never altered. If Henson’s past is any indication of his future coaching style, he was influenced by one of the bigger “power run” offensive coaches in Les Miles. In fact, Henson coached with Miles for eight straight seasons at Oklahoma State and LSU. And being an offensive line coach and a fellow offensive lineman himself, it bodes well for Henson to establish a more power running game attack. This all depends on personnel, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the offense tilts toward more size and power, starting with the running game.
New blood and motivation: Although Yost was a strong play caller and known for developing quarterbacks, the offense never clicked in 2012 against better defenses, and most notably, James Franklin or Corbin Berkstresser never looked comfortable. Franklin’s combined 36 touchdowns in 2011 became an afterthought when he combined for just 10 last season. Yost was more of a spread-oriented coach, and his offense worked great…in the Big 12. Sometimes changing coordinators who have a slightly different scheme and opinion can spark a veteran quarterback and create new energy and motivation. With already having an intimate knowledge of the personnel, Henson brings new blood and differing opinions to the Tigers’ offense, along with being a good recruiter. A good recruiter is a strong motivator who relates to players.
He’ll use the TE more: Along with being a former offensive line coach, Henson coached tight ends only under Miles. The tight end has been notably absent in the Tigers’ offense, but Sean Culkin and Eric Waters are two on the current roster who should be utilized more, as well as incoming freshman Jason Reese. You know how many catches Missouri tight ends totaled in 2012? Just four, by Eric Waters. Henson must develop this aspect of the offense, and being a former tight ends coach certainly would be a strong indicator he would use the position more as a weapon.
Again, Henson’s scheme and play calling will cater to the personnel of the offense, and even though Mizzou is somewhat scarred by a bad 2012, losing Yost may not be such a bad thing. And you have to figure once Missouri gets healthy – including James Franklin, Henry Josey and a cast of offensive linemen – they should be fun to watch.
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