posted on December 31, 2012 00:05
As a new year approaches, we're taking a look at why Missouri fans should look forward to 2013. Here are 13 reasons why '13 will be a great year for Tiger fans everywhere.
13. Baseball season in the South. Missouri's baseball team may struggle in its first year in the SEC, but Tiger fans should still try to travel to at least one road series this season. It may not have the pageantry of SEC football, but baseball in the Grand Ol' Conference doesn't lack in intrigue or excitement.
12. Chelsea's Swan Song. Missouri softball's two-time All-America pitcher Chelsea Thomas enters her final year in Columbia with the goal of finally helping the Tigers have a break through in the Women's College World Series. Thomas has been one of the nation's most dominant pitchers the past two seasons. Now a redshirt senior, it may be a long time before Missouri fans can see that kind of artistry in the circle.
11. DGB's breakout. Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham entered college with plenty of hype, and for the first half of his freshman year, it remained just that. But after his strong finish to the season, there's no doubt who the Tigers' go-to passing playmaker will be in 2013. Green-Beckham likely has two more seasons before the NFL, and his sophomore campaign will prove why he was the nation's top recruit in 2012.
10. Home football games against Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina. Missouri's first SEC season fell flat, but no one can deny the energy that surrounded Columbia when the Tigers hosted Georgia and Alabama. Next year, Missouri hosts the Gators, Aggies and Gamecocks, providing three marquee games at home against fanbases that travel well. Those are also three of Missouri's toughest games, and they're all in the friendly confines of Faurot Field.
9. Road games at Ole Miss and Georgia. This one isn't so much about the schedule. Instead, it's the location. Missouri fans get to go to Oxford and Athens, two of the most idyllic destinations for SEC games. Missouri played in Oxford in 2007, so it may not be a novel experience, but Athens is Columbia's doppelganger and fits the definition of a college town. I whole-heartedly recommend that every Missouri fan make the trip to see that game Between The Hedges.
8. Sheldon Richardson's draft stock. Missouri fan's last impression of Richardson may be sullied by the suspension against Syracuse, and there's plenty to be upset with his tenure at Missouri. But he had a great final season for the first ten games, and now Missouri's defensive line will get another boost in reputation when he's selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Ziggy Hood and now Richardson as first-round picks will do wonders for Missouri's defensive line recruiting -- which is huge in the SEC.
7. A new-look offense? Missouri's offense may still be the spread, but expect new coordinator Josh Henson to add a much more power-oriented attack in his first year as OC. As an OL coach with ties to the SEC, Henson knows that the point-of-attack is paramount to a teams' success in the conference, and the slow-developing run plays may be a thing of the past.
6. Haith's best coaching job lies ahead. Frank Haith's first season in Missouri was an unexpected success, but he inherited an experienced team that was willing to unite around anyone not named Mike Anderson. This year, with a rebuilt roster, Haith has a more athletic and deeper team that's getting better and better. Despite the loss to UCLA, these Tigers will be stronger come tournament time, and this will be the year that Missouri breaks through with a Final Four appearance.
5. The Return of Henry Josey. Missouri's prodigious sophomore running back will come back in 2013 after missing all of 2012 following the devastating knee injury suffered at the end of the 2011 season. Will Josey be the same explosive home-run threat of two seasons ago? Maybe not. But the first time he touches the ball in front of the home crowd in Columbia, there shouldn't be a dry-eye in the house. Coming back from that horrific injury is amazing in itself. Anything more will just add to his legend.
4. Jabari Brown's emergence. The transfer from Oregon has shown plenty of promise in just three games as a Tiger, and he'll continue to get better. By the end of the season, he may be Missouri's leading scorer. He hasn't found his rhythm yet, but when he does, watch out. He'll be the difference for the Tigers as they go deep into the NCAA tournament.
3. Laurence Bowers' last stand. Bowers has rebounded from an ACL injury to become a candidate for national POY. It's unlikely he wins the award, but his return as an inside-outside threat has been incredible to see. For such a humble star, it makes it even more inspiring. Don't take his final semester for granted.
2. The quarterback battle. Missouri's quarterback position will be up for grabs this spring, and there will be five (FIVE!) quarterbacks with legitimate shots to win the job: James Franklin, Corbin Berkstresser, Maty Mauk and the two freshman, Eddie Printz and Trent Hosick. The future of Missouri's offense could be decided by who wins it -- Franklin and Hosick represent dual-threat options, Berkstresser and Printz represent more Gabbert-era drop-back passers and Mauk, many say, is a Chase Daniel-clone. It's been a long time since Missouri's QB job was this up for grabs, and it adds plenty of excitement heading into spring ball.
1. Phil Pressey's season. There's an argument for the best point guard in college basketball, but Pressey is always in it. He'll set more Missouri records this year, but what he's asked to do makes it even more impressive. Missouri's lilliputian leader won't sit for more than two minutes in any big game this season, as there are no other options behind him. This very well could be his last season in Columbia, and don't take for granted how much he means to Haith's team.