What you need to know ...
Everything is in place for a better all-around year on
offense even though quarterback Brad Smith is no longer running
the show. As crazy as this might sound, the attack might be
better and more effective since it can't rely on just one player
to do everything. New starting quarterback Chase Daniel is a
strong talent who'll spread the ball around well while bringing his
toughness and attitude to the offense. The 1-2 tight end punch
of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman is one of the best in the
nation, the receiving corps is big and fast, the running back
corps is little and fast with four interchangeable parts led by
Marcus Woods, and the line will be among the best in the Big 12
as long as there aren't any major injuries to the starting five.
Passing: Chase Daniel
38-66, 347 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Tony Temple
81 carries, 437 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Martin Rucker
47 catches, 567 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Junior TE Martin Rucker and
sophomore TE Chase Coffman
Depth on the offensive line, quarterback experience
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Chase Daniel
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Will Franklin
Best pro prospect: Coffman
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Coffman, 2) Rucker, 3)
C Adam Spieker
Strength of the offense: Tight end, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
There's no replacing a talent like Brad Smith, who carried
the Missouri offense for the last four years on his back for 48
straight starts. However, the cupboard is hardly bare with Chase
Daniel an exciting young talent with good passing arm and a
gritty attitude that might turn out to be a better overall fit
for the offense than Smith was. Brandon Coleman has the size and
speed to be a dangerous option, and Chase Patton, a star local
recruit a few years ago, is still in the mix trying to find his
way on the field.
The key to the unit: Getting more out of the passing
game, especially deep down the field, and not making mistakes.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Chase Daniel, Soph. - 38-66, 57.6%, 347 yds, 1 TD, 2
INT, 39 carries, 57 yds, 1 TD
The surprise winner of the backup job last year, Daniel saw
meaningful time in place of a dinged up Brad Smith leading the
Tigers to a win over Iowa State with an impressive 16 of 23
performance for 185 yards and a touchdown. He's not going to run
like Smith did, but he's not a statue with good mobility and
speed. He's a tough competitor who should add more of a passing
element to the attack over the next few years than Smith was
- Brandon Coleman, Sr.
Coleman moves back to quarterback from receiver, and he has a
little bit of experience under center completing four of six
passes in 2004. He's a big, 6-4, 215-pound runner with
tremendous speed and a live arm. He'll have to be special to
knock Chase Daniel out of the number one spot, but he'll get
every chance to do it.
- Chase Patton, Soph.
Patton was one of the top high school prospects brought in under
Gary Pinkel, but he hasn't gotten the shot to show what he can
do on the field. He has been a good practice player so far and
he has skills, but he has to be more consistent to get in the
mix for the starting job. He's not the athlete that Chase Daniel
and Brandon Coleman are, but he's a good runner with a great
Missouri's backfield is loaded with the same back. Outside
of redshirt freshman Connell Davis, all the backs are 5-8 and
200 pounds with tremendous quickness and hands. All of them
have had a tough time staying healthy. Marcus Woods is the most
talented of the bunch, and now he'll get more of a chance to
shine without Brad Smith to occupy most of the carries. Tony
Temple will be back from a shoulder injury to add a little bit
more speed, and Jimmy Jackson and Earl Goldsmith will both be
lugged into the system when needed.
The key to the unit: Keeping everyone healthy and
getting more work for Connell Davis to add another dimension.
Running Back Rating: 7
- Marcus Woods, Jr. - 93 carries, 435 yds, 4.7 ypc, 3 TD,
18 catches, 92 yds, 1 TD
Woods had a nice year, but it wasn't the season the breakout
season the team was hoping for due to various injuries. He's
small, but he's extremely quick with great hands as a receiver
out of the backfield. With Brad Smith gone, more of the rushing
workload will fall on Woods' shoulders, but can he handle it? He
only has one 20-carry game coming against Oklahoma State last
year, and he wasn't quite right the rest of the way after it.
- Tony Temple, Jr. - 81 carries, 437 yds, 5.4 ypc, 3 TD, 16
catches, 70 yds
Temple combined with Marcus Woods to handle most of the rushing
workload from the backs before taking over full-time late in the
year highlighted by a 100-yard day against Baylor. He's a home
run hitter, but he can't stay healthy battling injuries all of
last year and missing spring ball to heal up his shoulder.
- Jimmy Jackson, Soph. - 37 carries, 182 yds, 4.9 ypc, 2
TD, 8 catches, 73 yds
Fitting the mold of Tiger backs, the 5-8, 200-pound sophomore is
a small, quick back with good cutting ability, but he brings a
bit more power than the rest of the prospects. He'll hopefully
be 100% by the start of the season after breaking his foot in
the bowl win over South Carolina.
- Earl Goldsmith, Soph. - 6 carries, 37 yds
A knee injury held back the speedy runner last year and now he
appears ready to make more of an impact. He has all the skills
to be a top all-around back in the Tiger system and should get
plenty of chances to work more in the mix to keep the other
small backs fresh.
- Connell Davis, RFr.
He's a change of pace back for a different reason than most
adding more size to the mix. The 6-3, 205-pounder has wowed the
team in practices and will get every shot at getting regular
work in the rotation.
The wide receivers are big and fast, but
they're overshadowed by the nation's best tight end tandem of
Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. Both tight ends can catch tying
for the team lead in grabs with 47 last season and both are
dangerous at making big plays down the field. Will Franklin
needs to break out on the outside to help the passing game
become more productive, and a good rotation needs to develop in
a hurry to open things up for the marvelous tight ends. The
rating is high because of the tight ends.
The key to the unit: Get more deep plays from the
receiving corps and hope for the same production out of the
tight ends as last year.
Receiver Rating: 8
- Will Franklin, Jr. - 40 catches, 448 yds, 10.3 ypc, 2 TD
Franklin is poised for big things. He's 6-2, 205 pounds and fast
moving into Sean Coffey's former spot at the X to use his size
and speed to be one of the team's most dangerous weapons. He was
kept under wraps a bit last year making most of his plays from
short to midrange, but his 4.4 speed and next-level leaping
ability will shine through this year as a deep threat.
- Brad Ekwerekwu, Sr. - 32 catches, 282 yds, 8.8 ypc, 4
The crusty veteran of the group, Ekwerekwu will take over the H
role to take more advantage of his experience and size. He's 6-4
and 215 pounds with good hands and moves in the open field.
Along with his talents on the field, he's an All-Big 12 academic
- Tommy Saunders, Soph. - 12 catches, 99 yds, 8.2 ypc, 1
The former walk-on will take over at the Z position using his
basketball player athleticism to create matchup problems. He's a
physical 6-0, 210-pound athlete who won't make any all-star
teams, but will be a reliable third receiver.
- Tight end Martin Rucker, Jr. - 47 catches, 567 yds,
12.1 ypc, 1 TD
A two-year starter, Rucker led the team in receiving yards and
earned a few All-Big 12 accolades. He's a big 6-5, 245-pound
target who doesn't get enough credit for his blocking skills. He
was a bit overshadowed by newcomer Chase Coffman on a national
scale, but now he's ready to get his due recognition as he'll be
on the Mackey Award short list.
- Tight end Chase Coffman, Soph. - 47 catches, 503
yds, 10.7 ypc, 4 TD
He'll be an All-American before his career is up. At 6-6 and 230
pounds he has the size to outmuscle most defenders, and he has
baby-soft hands that haul in everything thrown his way. He's
fast enough to be used as a big wide receiver if needed.
- Jason Ray, Jr. - 1 catch, 7 yds
Expected to be a breakthrough player last year, the talented Ray
broke his collarbone and missed almost the entire season. He has
good size at 6-1 and 210 pounds and great hands. Expect him to
push Tommy Saunders hard for the H spot, but he can play at the
Z if needed.
- Greg Bracey, Jr.
Speed, speed and more speed. The 6-2, 200-pound junior is one of
the stars of the Tiger track team and is the team's fastest
player. He was used mostly as a kick returner last year with
four returns for 86 yards, and now he has to be a factor as a
deep threat along with Will Franklin at the X.
Four starters return to the line with a fifth player, guard
Monte Wyrick, more than good enough to step in without a problem. Tackle
Tyler Luellen and center Adam Spieker are All-Big 12 talents who'll keep
the ground game going, while tackle Joel Clinger and guard Mike Cook
form a good right side. The only problem is experience among the
reserves, but talent isn't an issue with Kurtis Gregory, James Stigall
and Dain Wise three of the best young talents to come in during the Gary
Pinkel era. All they need is playing time.
The key to the unit: Quickly get the reserves
enough playing time early so there can be a decent rotation.
Offensive Line Rating: 8.5
- OT Tyler Luellen, Jr.
The 6-7 Luellen is a talented, experienced blocker who appears to be on
the verge of becoming an all-star. He has a long frame with a good reach
as a pass protector and good strength for the running game. He has
finally cleaned up a banged up shoulder that was giving him problems for
the last few years, so it'll be interesting to see how much more
effective he can be.
- OG Monte Wyrick, Jr.
Wyrick is one of the team's strongest linemen and should be fine as the
only new full-time starter. He has to replace the talented Tony Palmer
at left guard, but he has a little bit of starting experience and he has
the size at a team-leading 320 pounds.
- C Adam Spieker, Jr.
One of the Big 12's best linemen, Spieker is back for his third season
as a starter and will be the anchor of the veteran line. He's a strong
310 pounds and a dominant, consistent run blocker. He's a strong pro
- OG Mike Cook, Sr.
Cook went from being a good reserve to a solid starter holding down the
right guard job all season. He's not going to be an all-star, but he's
consistent and rarely gets beaten in pass protection.
- OT Joel Clinger, Sr.
The 6-6, 315-pound senior brings attitude to the line. He's an
aggressive run blocker who turned in an All-Big 12 season on the right
side. He's a rock-solid pass protector.
- T Louis Pintola, Sr.
A quality reserve over the last few years, he'll be a quality backup
on the left side behind Tyler Luellen. He's fine after a scare from a
melanoma removed from his arm.
- G Ryan Madison, Soph.
After starting out his career at center, the 300-pound sophomore will
look to be a dependable reserve at one of the guard spots. He'll start
out backing up Monte Wyrick on the left side.