Lost in Missouri's offensive misery last fall was the absence of arguably the Tigers' best offensive weapon from 2011.
Running back Henry Josey spent all of 2012 sitting and watching after suffering a devastating knee injury against Texas in mid-November of 2011. Before Josey went down, he was the Big 12's top rusher (1,168 yards on 145 yards) and was coming off four straight 100-yard outings.
He was a slasher, a dasher and a pounder when he needed to be, and not having him in the offense last year really hurt the Tigers. I'm not taking anything way from Kendial Lawrence, who filled in admirably with his 1,025 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5.1 yards per carry, but he just wasn't as dynamic a player as Josey. Not a lot of backs are, really.
But every indication coming out of Mizzou's camp this spring is that Josey will be back to his old self this fall. He isn't there yet, but he's slowly getting there.
Coach Gary Pinkel said Josey was timed running the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s before spring practice got underway, but taking contact and cutting were two things everyone in Columbia, Mo., wanted to see. Apparently that hasn't been a problem, as he shed his knee brace and ran for 28 yards on eight carries in Saturday's scrimmage. He started things off by busting a 17-yard run on his first carry of the scrimmage.
Sure, it was just a scrimmage, but that's a great sight for the Tigers to see. There were moments when it looked like Josey, who underwent three separate surgeries, wasn't going to return to the football field as a player. Here's what he had to have repaired during his three surgeries:
He also had an arthroscopic cleanup.
Right now, Josey isn't where he was in 2011, but he's just now getting his football legs back, so that's to be expected. Still, it has to be very encouraging that the Tigers should get back one of their best playmakers. When healthy, Josey has proven to be a true game-changer and that's exactly what this offense needs.
Obviously, the Tigers' offense regressed because of injuries to the offensive line and quarterback James Franklin, but having a guy like Josey back in the offense will really open things up for the passing game and make this offense more of a threat.