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Missouri football looks to improve this upcoming season

The 2012 season is one the Missouri Tigers are more than likely ready to put behind them. Their first season in the Southeastern Conference showed to be a tough transition from the Big 12. On the season, they had a record of 5-7, 2-6 in conference play, going 2-4 in the East. To make matters even worse, they were 0-5 against Top 25 teams. Head coach Gary Pinkel said he knew what he was getting into his first time in the SEC.

The MU defense allowed opponents to score about 28 points per game, ranking them 68th in the nation. The offense wasn’t any better, passing around 217 yards per game, which is 77th in the NCAA. They were also 90th in rushing with 138 yards and scoring 25 points per game. The Tigers lost two players to the NFL Draft in defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was selected in the first round, 13th overall by the New York Jets. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden was taken in the third round, 97th overall by the Tennessee Titans.

Richardson recorded 75 tackles in 11 games last season with 39 of them solo, and 10.5 of them were for a loss. He also got to the quarterback four times. Gooden recorded 61 tackles with 36 of them coming by himself in 10 games for Mizzou. The Tigers will also be without their leading rusher in Kendial Lawrence, who ran for 1,025 yards on 200 carries, ranking seventh in the SEC. He also scored 12 touchdowns.

Edward Aschoff, University of Florida alumni and current ESPN SEC blogger, believes that despite having two years of experience at starting quarterback, James Franklin is still competing for the starting job at Missouri. Franklin passed for 1,562 yards last year, completing 59 percent of his passes. He threw for 10 touchdowns, but he also threw seven interceptions. His competition is now sophomore QB Corbin Berkstresser, who played in 8 games last season, throwing for 1,059 yards on 177 attempts and completing 88 of his passes.

Junior running back Marcus Murphy will have to fill the void left by Kendial Lawerance. Murphy ran for 261 yards on 46 carries. He averaged five and half yards per carry, and he scored just one touchdown last year. Wideouts Marcus Lucas, who caught 46 passes for a team high 509 yards, and L’Damian Washington, who averaged 17 yards per reception, will return for their senior seasons. Coach Pinkel was pleased with their performances during the spring game.

The Tigers first game of the season is August 31 as they take on Murray State.

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