SDS will be looking at each SEC team’s spring practice and address concerns entering and exiting on both sides of the ball.
No. 1 QB: Returning senior quarterback James Franklin will retain the starting job this fall, or at least start out as the No. 1 guy. Maty Mauk had an impressive spring and surpassed backup Corbin Berkstresser, but that’s not saying too much. Mauk will still get his fair share of opportunities, and he has the most upside of the three quarterbacks vying for the job. But it’s Franklin’s job to lose entering the season, and new offensive coordinator Josh Henson’s approach bodes well for improved quarterback play and overall offense.
Josey is back: Fans love a great comeback story, and running back Henry Josey could be the biggest comeback story of the year. Josey may not have looked like his old self this spring, slashing through defenses, but once he feels some contact and makes some sharp cuts in games this fall, he’ll begin to gain more confidence on his surgically repaired knee. All SEC fans are eager to see what this young man brings to the table.
DGB explosion: Dorial Beckham-Green didn’t have the instant splash of Julio Jones or AJ Green as a freshman, but his production was limited based on the weak passing game. He showed signs of tremendous upside towards the latter end of the season, and he’s primed for a breakout year after a big-time showing this spring. He’s bigger, faster and stronger, and that’s a scary combination for any defensive coordinator, especially if Missouri’s passing game decides to show up this year.
It’s his time: Defensive end Kony Ealy now takes the reigns of the Tigers much-underrated defense. He’s an explosive player who has a sexy combination of run-stop and pass-rush abilities. Ealy is coming off a strong sophomore showing, but in Sheldon Richardson’s absence, this is Ealy’s defensive line. The former four-star prospect looks to explode onto the scene in 2013.
Pass the torch: Sheldon Richardson leaves a massive void in the teeth of the Tigers’ defense, but junior Matt Hoch is ready to fill his shows. Hoch isn’t new, as he started 12 games last season, but, like Ealy, he’s ready for a big season in Columbia. He came to Missouri as a tight end and moved to nose tackle for the last two seasons. Hoch kept his athleticism while adding several pounds to handle SEC offensive linemen. With Ealy and Hoch in the Tigers’ first line of defense, it bodes well for another better-than-average defense come fall.
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