In a league full of massive defensive tackles and elite speed rushers, it is no wonder that an incomparably undersized offensive line had trouble blocking...well, everyone. Let's take a look at the five most visible O-linemen that got playing time this year.
Elvis Fisher: A great career at Mizzou was capped with a solid - yet injury plagued - final season. Fisher appeared slow at the beginning of the season, but surprisingly, after his mid-season MCL strain that caused him to miss two games, he finished the season strong.
I'm sure if you asked Elvis how he played, he wouldn't be satisfied, but he should feel proud about the way his six year Missouri career ended.
Evan Boehm: As the first true freshman to start on Gary Pinkel's offensive line in his 12 year tenure, Boehm was undoubtedly the most hyped freshman on the Missouri roster. Well, maybe just a hair behind 2011's No. 1 overall prospect WR Dorial Green-Beckham.
In all seriousness, Boehm perhaps made a bigger impact on the Missouri offense than DGB, and for that he should be commended. The fact that he was the only offensive lineman to start every game at the same position should tell you something about Boehm and about the injury plague of the offensive line. Another case can be made for Boehm that he was Missouri's best offensive lineman. He certainly played ahead of the freshman curve, and the experience he obtained this year will only help him improve into an elite lineman in the future.
Mitch Morse: Morse struggled mightily at times snapping the ball to the quarterback this season, which resulted in a chaotic scramble in the backfield. However, Morse was an invaluable piece to the line this year because of the versatility that he provided.
After a wave of injuries depleted multiple O-line starters at other positions, Morse was able to move to guard and tackle at times so that the Tigers could get their five best available lineman on the field. Morse will have to make strides in the offseason in order to keep his starting spot at center: redshirt freshman Brad McNulty looked solid as a fill-in at center.
Max Copeland: A former walk-on from Montana, Copeland earned a scholarship this year in one of the feel-good stories from the Missouri season. He responded by turning in a respectable campaign at RG. In a conference full of 325-pound interior lineman, 6-foot-3 290-pound "Mad" Max Copeland held his own.
At times, false starts and holding penalties were a problem, but in such an underwhelming offensive season, that felt like the least of Missouri's problems. Copeland, who is known for his Rock'N'Roll attitude, intriguing interviews, and awesome Twitter account, will certainly be in the mix to start next year, but like everyone on the offensive line, will have to step his game up in order to spark the offense's inner Rock'N'Roll.
Justin Britt: The only offensive line starter at the beginning of the year that started any games the previous year. Britt was hit by the injury bug beginning last spring, when he broke his foot and was unable to participate in spring practices.
Later in the season at Florida, he tore his ACL. Britt will be counted on next year to bounce back from his injury and lead a young group. Be sure to keep an eye on his recovery as the offseason moves along, to see if he will be ready by next September.
Final Grade: D+ Admittedly, it is difficult to grade an offensive line that had five of the six potential contributors miss time because of injury, including two MCL strains (Fisher and projected starting right guard Jack Meiners) a concussion (Morse) a torn ACL (Britt) and a torn triceps tendon (projected starting left guard Travis Ruth). However, the offensive line will be the first to tell you that injuries were not an excuse for the way the unit performed this season. At times, play was sloppy, and the severely undersized group had the quarterback on the run nearly every play.
Next Season Outlook: If the Tigers want to compete in the SEC, the offensive line has to be more than an admirable group underclassman fill-ins: they will have to perform at a level that allows for the play development down the field.