After suffering through a disappointing 5-7 debut campaign in the SEC, the Missouri Tigers are using the spring to regroup and refocus. A quarterback competition is underway — a true shocker at any spring camp — and head coach Gary Pinkel had high praise for Maty Mauk.
6) Pinkel on Maty Mauk, who seems to be very much in the QB race: “He’s got a very strong arm. He can throw the ball 75 yards.” #Mizzou
— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) March 11, 2013
Whoever is quarterbacking the Tiger offense will get an addition in the backfield, as Mizzou welcomes back Henry Josey. Josey missed the duration of the 2012 season after suffering what was then described as a one-in-a-million injury late in the 2011 campaign.
Josey rejoins a Tiger backfield that returns 2012 leading rusher Marcus Murphy, and integrates shifty 2012 recruit Russell Hansbrough. TrumanTales.com projects Hansbrough as the Tigers’ breakout rusher of 2013 after the youngster ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. Missouri will need a rejuvenated ground game — the Tiger rush offense ranked No. 88 last season after finishing No. 9 in 2011.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Another program looking to jump-start its running attack is Jim Grobe’s Wake Forest bunch. The Demon Deacons averaged just barely over 100 yards per game, ranking near the very bottom among all teams a season ago.
To open the field for quarterback Tanner Price, ESPN.com ACC blogger Andrea Adelson reports Grobe plans to use Price in a dual-threat capacity come 2013. The Demon Deacons are practicing designed plays to that end in the spring.
Price was used as a rusher at Austin Westlake High School.
“I’ve been working on my speed a little bit, try to put on weight to be more of a threat and that will, in turn, set up the passing game,” Price told ESPN.com.
UCF Golden Knights
UCF’s Big East tenure began in earnest on Wednesday with the Golden Knights’ first spring practice. George O’Leary is back for at least another season, coming off an impressive 10-win finish to 2012.
The Golden Knights are intriguing dark horses in the new-look conference, with Blake Bortles back to captain the offense. Bortles accounted for 3344 total yards, nearly 3100 of which came via the pass. Such proficiency was a deviation from recent UCF offenses, that used the quarterback primarily as a rusher out of the spread.
But O’Leary is looking to pass even more, according to his interview with Sports Talk Florida.
The Golden Knights return leading receivers J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall, as well as one-time UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey. UCF is faced with replacing 1000-yard rusher Latavius Murray, though. The big, physical presence Murray brought leaves a sizable hole in the backfield, giving further context to O’Leary’s assertion the offense needs more “air” in 2013.