Despite all the success that the Mizzou football program had during 2013, the special teams game was not at its best. After all, if the Tigers had been better in that phase of the game, they could have gone into the SEC Championship Game undefeated, as Andrew Baggett’s miss of a 24-yard field goal in double overtime against South Carolina caused Mizzou to suffer its only regular season loss.
Even with the issues that the Missouri kicking game went through last year, the team is expected to stick with all the same starting specialists. Baggett, who will be heading into his redshirt junior season, will look to rebound from a highly inconsistent 2013. The former walk-on missed three extra points, and he only went 18-of-25 on field goals. Three of those misses were from distances of less than 30 yards, while another two were from less than 40. In the always competitive SEC, it’s crucial that Baggett becomes more accurate in 2014.
Punter Christian Brinser will look to improve on a solid 2013 season as he heads into his final year in the Mizzou program. Brinser, who was a first-stringer for the first time last year, averaged 41 yards per punt on 68 attempts while pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line 26 times. Even a little bit of improvement would provide the Tigers an edge as they strive to compete week-to-week.
St. Louis native Jake Hurrell took over the long-snapping duties last year as a redshirt freshman and will continue to develop in that role this season. Hurrell had a very solid first year as a first-teamer, and at the end of the season the Tigers named him both the Special Teams Player of the Year and Walk-On Player of the Year.
It’s highly doubtful that any of the Tigers’ starting specialists will be unseated, but they do have a good amount of depth should any unforeseen circumstances occur. Walk-on kickers Turner Adams, Nick Coffman, Luke Jackson, and punter Preston Soper are on the roster, and it’s likely that more walk-ons will join the program as fall practices get underway.
In the return game, Marcus Murphy should once again handle the kick and punt return duties. Murphy’s built up quite a reputation over the years, being named a first-team All-SEC return specialist in 2012 by ESPN and a two-time SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. The redshirt senior was not quite as successful in 2013, averaging 22.2 yards per kick return and seven yards per punt return while failing to score any touchdowns in either facet of the game. Mizzou did not list any other returners on their spring depth chart, but players such as cornerback John Gibson and wide receiver Jimmie Hunt would seemingly be candidates should Murphy be unavailable for any reason.