Entering Missouri's game against Texas last November, Tiger taiback Henry Josey had come from seemingly nowhere to become one of college football's most dangerous runners: 1,100-plus yards, 9 touchdowns, an eye-popping 8.1 yards-per-carry average. And just as suddenly, Josey's breakout season was over, felled by a "one in a million" knee injury in which his ACL, MCL, and patella tendon were all ruptured.
Unfortunately for Josey and the Tigers, his comeback from that injury will have to wait until 2013. Coach Gary Pinkel told multiple outlets at his Monday press conference that Josey will redshirt this season and return next year with two seasons of eligiblity remaining.
"He will be back," Pinkel said, adding that Josey is already running 100-yard sprints in workouts.
Josey had tentatively hoped to come back this season, and it's not possible to spin the Tigers losing their leading rusher for the entire 2012 season as a positive. But there's a couple of silver linings to the news, the first being that it's highly unlikely Pinkel was caught off-guard by Josey's inability to return in 2012; the junior underwent a second knee surgery near the end of spring camp, at which point Pinkel sounded less-than-optimistic about his chances of seeing the field this fall.
The second is that senior replacement Kendial Lawrence has been one of the bright spots of Missouri's camp, with Pinkel saying Monday that he's "looked as good as he's ever looked here." Lawrence ran for 566 yards last year at a 4.76 yards-per-carry clip.
That those numbers paled in comparison to Josey's suggests that Lawrence had better be improved if he wants to back up Pinkel's confidence and make a difference as the Tigers' full-time running back. The old adage is that to win in the SEC, you have to run the ball and stop the run--and while it's debatable exactly how true that is (Arkansas finished ninth in the league in rushing in 2011 and went 6-2), Pinkel would no doubt very much like to avoid testing its truth with an all-aerial attack. With no Josey, it's on Lawrence's shoulders to make sure that doesn't happen.
Some good news for Missouri on the injury front: Pinkel said that though starting senior guard Jack Meiners would be forced to miss the Tigers' Saturday opener against FCS Southeast Louisiana, his knee injury from Thursday's scrimmage -- one initially feared to be a possible season-ender -- was only a ligament strain, not a tear. The Tigers hope Meiners can return for their much-anticipated Week 2 home showdown against Georgia, the program's SEC debut.
And one more Missouri tidbit: No. 1 overall recruit and expected true freshman receiving star Dorial Green-Beckham was listed on the second team in the depth chart released by Pinkel Monday. We're highly skeptical Green-Beckham -- who led the Tigers in receiving across their three fall scrimmages -- won't play starter's snaps and get starter's targets. But officially, he's not a starter just yet.