A tip of the cap to Mizzou’s most valuable offensive players

One of the biggest plays of the Missouri football season came late in

the third quarter of the season opener against visiting Murray State.
 
On

first-and-10 from Mizzou’s 32-yard line, Henry Josey took a handoff

from Maty Mauk, burst through a hole on the right side of the offensive

line and sprinted down the sideline, leaving in his wake a trail of

helpless defensive backs.
 
Josey dived into the end zone to

finish off the 68-yard touchdown run and put an exclamation point on his

triumphant return from the knee injury he had suffered nearly two years

earlier.
 
It turned out to be one of many highlights for the

Tigers and Josey, who was one of the key contributors during the Tigers’

11-2 campaign, which included an SEC East title and an invitation to

the Cotton Bowl next month.
 
Yes, a breakthrough season of this

scope required a roster full of contributors. But some, like Josey, were

more critical to the team’s success than others. Following are the most

valuable players on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive MVPs?

You’ll get your due tomorrow.
 
HENRY JOSEY
 
The return to form of the redshirt junior running back was one of the best stories in college football this fall.
 
It

wasn’t just that Josey returned from the devastating knee injury he

suffered late in the 2011 season — after he had rushed for 1,168 yards

and nine touchdowns — and caused him to miss all of the 2012 campaign.

It was that he returned to the field and didn’t miss a beat.
 
Josey

rushed for a team-high 1,074 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry, and

scored a team-best 14 total touchdowns. He topped 100 yards rushing in

four games, including 123 against Auburn in the SEC title game. He had

427 yards rushing the last four games.
 
Josey racked up those

numbers despite sharing carries with Russell Hansbrough and Marcus

Murphy. Those three backs, who are all likely to return for next season,

combined for 2,305 yards rushing and 28 total touchdowns.
 
But

statistics can’t measure Josey’s impact on his teammates, and what his

hard work to rehab and return really meant to this 2013 Mizzou

turnaround season.
 
JUSTIN BRITT
 
The Tigers’ redshirt senior left tackle was Mizzou’s most experienced offensive lineman and anchored that group this season.
 
After

appearing in 13 games as a reserve in 2010, Britt started 13 games at

left tackle as a sophomore in 2011 and started nine games at either left

or right tackle as a junior last season before suffering a

season-ending knee injury.
 
Britt once again started every game this season at left tackle and earned some impressive accolades for his play.
 
The

6-foot-6, 320-pounder paved the way up front as the Tigers ran for

3,074 yards and 32 touchdowns and passed for 3,334 yards and 30

touchdowns.  
 
He was selected the SEC Offensive Line Player of

the Week following the Tennessee game, in which he graded out at 94

percent with three pancake blocks. He earned first-team All-SEC honors

from the Associated Press and was selected to the All-SEC second team by

the league’s coaches.
 
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the rest of the offensive line, which was a key factor in the Tigers’ success this season.
 
Britt,

senior left guard Max Copeland, sophomore center Evan Boehm, sophomore

right guard Connor McGovern and junior right tackle Mitch Morse combined

to start 11 of the 13 games together. Britt, Boehm, McGovern and Morse

started every game. Anthony Gatti, a junior, started two games at left

guard when Copeland was out with an ankle injury.
 
L’DAMIAN WASHINGTON
 
Washington

came to Columbia with little fanfare — he was rated by Rivals.com as

the 51st-best prospect in Louisiana as a high school senior — but

became a solid contributor as a sophomore and started 12 games as a

junior.
 
This fall, in his redshirt senior season, Washington broke out.
 
The

6-4, 200-pounder emerged as one of the SEC’s better wide receivers when

he caught 47 passes for a team-high 853 yards, an average of 18.1 yards

per catch, and 10 touchdowns. He also produced one of the most

memorable moments of the season when he caught a 96-yard touchdown pass

against South Carolina.
 
Washington’s emergence on the perimeter

also helped open up opportunities for Dorial Green-Beckham on the other

side and Marcus Lucas in the slot.
 
DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM
 
Green-Beckham

had a decent debut season a year ago, when he caught 28 passes for 395

yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman.
 
But this season,

the 6-6, 220-pound sophomore showed everyone what made him so special as

a high schooler and earned him the lofty status as the nation’s No. 1

overall prospect from Rivals.com.
 
Green-Beckham caught 55

passes, tying Lucas for the team lead, for 830 yards and a team-best 12

receiving touchdowns. He had eight catches at Indiana, topped 100 yards

receiving in three games and caught a Mizzou-record four touchdown

passes at Kentucky.
 
In his final four games, Green-Beckham

caught 22 passes for 357 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 13 catches

for 237 yards and three touchdowns in the final two games against Texas

A&M and Auburn.
 
Green-Beckham was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press.
 
It

will be interesting to see what DGB can do next season. He’ll be Maty

Mauk’s No. 1 option, with Washington and Lucas moving on, and will

probably have to deal with double teams every time he takes the field.

If he has another strong season, he could be a first-round draft pick in

2015.
 
JAMES FRANKLIN
 
The off-season was filled

with questions about whether Franklin, coming off an injury-plagued

junior season, would outperform Mauk, a redshirt freshman, to win the

starting job at quarterback.
 
It shouldn’t have been a question.

Franklin came out with something to prove and did just that, displaying

the dual-threat skills that had made him so effective as a sophomore.
 
Franklin

missed four starts with a shoulder injury he suffered in the win at

Georgia, yet completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 2,255 yards, 19

touchdowns and five interceptions, and ran for 474 yards and four scores

in leading the Tigers to eight wins in nine starts.
 
The Texas

native will conclude his career next month as one of the most successful

quarterbacks in school history. With one game left he is already third

in career passing touchdowns (51) and fifth in passing yards (6,788),

and his 21 rushing touchdowns are one away from tying Tony Temple for

10th in school history.
 
We also have to give a nod to Mauk.

Without his relief work there’s no telling what would have happened to

the Tigers’ season. Mauk completed 51.2 percent of his passes for 1,039

yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, with 156 yards rushing and a

touchdown. He will have to improve his accuracy, but Mizzou’s offense

looks like it will be in good hands under his leadership in 2014.
 
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.