There may not be a harder hit position group in the nation than the wide receiver unit for the Missouri Tigers. There are far more questions than answers for Gary Pinkel and company in 2014. For the Tigers to have a chance at repeating as SEC East champs, they’ll need to find the answers and do it quickly.
The team’s leading receiver from last season, L’Damian Washington is gone to the NFL along with the team’s third leading receiver Marcus Lucas. That fact alone would have made Missouri questionable at best when it comes to the wideout position. Those two losses were expected, however, so they weren’t the crippling blow.
Budding superstar Dorial Green-Beckham being kicked off the team was the back breaker. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation finally used up his last chance in Columbia and was booted from the roster this offseason. In what should have been his final year to make an impression for NFL scouts and the chance to be the No. 1 option in the Missouri offense, Green-Beckham will either be sitting out or playing at a FCS school.
This leaves only Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt, who were real factors in the passing game a year ago. The two of them combined for only 614 yards and two touchdowns. To put that into perspective, Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley out gained both of them in yardage and tripled their combined touchdown number.
It doesn’t bode well that a running back put up better receiving numbers than all your returning wideouts.
That leaves the Tigers with a lot of production to make up for. They will need Sasser and Hunt to prove that their numbers from 2013 are due to lack of opportunity rather than lack of ability.
Missouri could also use a spark from incoming talent. Four-star recruit Nate Brown along with three-star recruits Lawrence Lee and DeSean Blair will join the fray with a serious chance to earn playing time. It would be a huge shot in the arm if one of those three came in and proved they were ready from day one.
The Tigers return a very capable quarterback in Maty Mauk, who kept them in the hunt a year ago when starter James Franklin was injured. They also have a solid offensive line and a good running back in Russell Hansbrough.
If they can find Mauk someone to throw the ball to, Missouri will once again be competitive in the East. If they don’t, the Tigers could be headed for a serious drop off in 2014.