FanPost

Offensive Balance, and how the Tigers can achieve it again this season

Marcus Murphy will be heading 2014's three-headed attack - Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In today's world of College Football, most teams are defined by how they run their offenses. Whether it's the Air Raid Offense at Texas Tech, or Gus Malzahn's No-Huddle Option-Style Attack down at Auburn, almost every team has a preference to whether they run the ball, or pass it. Some teams have had success at balancing the offense down the middle, keeping defenses on their toes all game long. Missouri was one of few teams that balanced the pass and run efficiently in 2013, finishing among the Top Passing and Rushing offenses last season. Here's some stats from last year, shows you how much they spread the field in 2013:

OPPONENT

PASSING ATTEMPTS

RUSHING ATTEMPTS

PASSING YARDS

RUSHING YARDS

RESULT

Murray St.

42

45

336

358

W 58-14

Toledo

25

47

212

172

W 38-23

Indiana

47

50

343

280

W 45-28

Arkansas St.

30

28

256

239

W 41-19

Vanderbilt

28

43

278

245

W 51-28

Georgia

31

37

233

142

W 41-26

Florida

36

37

295

205

W 36-17

So. Carolina

25

41

249

155

L 24-27

Tennessee

25

54

163

339

W 31-3

Kentucky

28

30

203

223

W 48-17

Ole Miss

26

51

225

260

W 24-10

Texas A&M

30

44

238

225

W 28-21

Auburn

37

34

303

231

L 42-59

Oklahoma St.

44

47

206

256

W 41-31

TOTAL

343

463

3540

3330

While Missouri did lose a lot of on the offensive end, OC Josh Henson still has the tools to replicate the balance the Tigers had in 2013, and it starts with the Quarterback.

MATY MAUK

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What made James Franklin so efficient was his ability to have success on designed runs or read options that made him a threat to defenses through the air and on the ground. Maty Mauk will present the same threat in 2014. In four relief appearances for Franklin, Mauk racked up 1,000 yards through the air and 200 yards on the ground. Don't let that number fool you, his ability to escape pressure and get up the field saved a handful of drives for the Tigers last year. Check out his performance against Tennessee, 100+ yards through the air, and 100+ yards on the ground. (Also led the team in rushing)

Mauk had two big third down runs in the game that would keep a 2nd quarter drive alive and showcased his abilities with his feet:

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1) On 3rd and 4 from the Mizzou 25, the Tigers line up in Trips Left, Marcus Murphy lines up in the Backfield with Mauk. Vols are lined up in your standard 4-3.

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2) After the snap, the Trips receivers (DGB, Sasser, Lucas) run deep routes and take the outside Cornerback, Strong-side and Middle Linebackers with them. On the opposite side, L'Damian Washington runs a short drag across the field and the Weak-side Linebacker follows. Murphy runs a short out of the backfield toward the Weakside Cornerback. The Defensive End gets around Justin Britt, and starts coming for Maty.

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3) Maty recognizes the pressure and steps up to avoid it, and starts heading toward the middle of the defense.

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4) Murphy keeps the Cornerback from making a play and Mauk sprints past the first down and into the secondary.

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5) The play results in a 20-yard gain and pushes the Tigers closer to Volunteers territory.

Same drive, three plays later after Missouri crosses the 50 and into Tennessee territory.

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1) On 3rd and 1 from the Tennessee 31, Tigers line up with Trips Right, no receivers on the left, Henry Josey beside Mauk in the backfield. Vols are still in a 4-3.

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2) Mauk fakes the handoff to Josey to the right side, bringing the Middle and Strong-Side Linebacker forward. Evan Boehm pulls and starts heading to the left side of the field.

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3) Upon realizing Josey doesn't have the ball, the strong-side Linebacker tries to readjust, but is met by Mitch Morse who keeps him from reaching the play. Boehm and Max Copeland lead the way for Maty on the left side of the field.

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4) Evan lays a great lead block on the Middle Linebacker while Max takes the Weak-side Linebacker completely out of the play to create a hole up the sideline and into the secondary for Mauk.

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5) Maty is finally pushed out of bounds at the Tennessee 12-yard line after a 19-yard gain and enters the KCiH Red Zone.

While Mauk's arm is what brought him to Missouri in the first place, his rushing ability could be a valuable part of Josh Henson's offense in 2014. If opposing defenses start getting lazy and not keeping an eye on the QB, a designed run or option play would keep them on their toes and balance out the Offense at the same time.

Can the Tigers revive the "Three-Headed Dragon"?

Rbdragons_medium_medium

One thing that made 2013 such a special season for the Tigers was the return of Henry Josey.

The Junior from Angleton, Texas suffered a horrific knee injury against Texas in November 2011, during a 1,000 yards rushing season where Josey was becoming a star not only in Columbia, but on the national stage. He would miss all of 2012 rehabbing, and finally made his return this past August against Murray State, and what a return it was. Josey wrapped up his Missouri career with one more 1,000 yard rushing season and seven 90+ rushing yard peformances in 2013. He wasn't alone, Junior Marcus Murphy and Sophomore Russell Hansbrough came out of the backfield with 1,000+ rushing yards combined and 13 TDs last year, with both returning this fall. Together, these three became Missouri's "Three-Headed Dragon" rushing attack, one that finished 13th in the country in rushing yards. Now with Josey gone to the Philadelphia Eagles, who will fill the void and possibly become that third head out of the backfield?

The easy answer is Morgan Steward. It's also the right answer. Steward had a great spring practice, where he led all running backs with 170 yards over 30 carries. What makes Steward different from both Murphy and Hansbrough is his size. At 6'1" 210 pounds, he could become the go-to back the Tigers will need in short yardage situations. Steward is more of a straight-forward runner that will make defenses adjust to how they play him. Right now, he is to Murphy and Hansbrough what they were to Josey last fall, and when they're together, could revive Josh Henson's three headed dragon.

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Yes, the loss of players like Henry Josey, Dorial Green-Beckham, and James Franklin may have to make Coach Henson change up his game-plan a little, but he still has plenty as his disposal to power the TIgers offense. A dual -threat Quarterback in Maty Mauk dictating the flow of the offense will keep opposing defenses on their toes week in and week out. Not to mention the possibility of dealing with not one, not two, but three Running Backs who can torch your defense if you're not careful. Missouri could replicate that offensive balance in 2013 with the right play-calling from Coach Henson, and with what we saw in his first year as Offensive Coordinator, I'm sure he'll have no problem frustrating SEC defenses this fall.

FanPosts may be posted by any RMN member and may not reflect the views of the management staff of Rock M Nation or SB Nation.

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