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Missouri Preview 2006
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Another season and another year when Missouri is supposed to finally turn the corner under head coach Gary Pinkel and be a major player.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

We've all fallen for this before, especially when the Tigers had an all-time talent like Brad Smith at quarterback, but each time they're supposed to be the bright star in the Big 12 North, it doesn't happen.

No longer the hot new kid on the block, Pinkel and Missouri will likely be overlooked by many going into this year because Smith is gone and the results have been mediocre at best over the last five years. 

But really, truly, really, this should be the year Missouri becomes a star of the North. Really.  

Smith might be gone, but replacement Chase Daniel is a good young quarterback who'll do just fine. Now the rest of the offensive playmakers will get more of a shot to shine since the attack can't be more reliant on Smith, and that's a good thing with four good, quick backs, a fast receiving corps, and a tremendous tight end tandem of Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker to catch everything in sight.

Head coach: Gary Pinkel
6th year: 29-30
16th year overall: 102-67-3
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17 Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. DE Brian Smith, Sr.
2. TE Chase Coffman, Soph.
3. TE Martin Rucker, Jr.
4. FS David Overstreet, Sr.
5. C Adam Spieker, Jr.
6. LB Dedrick Harrington, Sr.
7. OT Tyler Luellen, Jr.
8. LB Marcus Bacon, Sr.
9. NT Jamar Smith, Sr.
10. QB Chase Daniel, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

9/2 Murray State
9/9 Ole Miss
9/16 at New Mexico
9/23 Ohio
9/30 Colorado
10/7 at Texas Tech
10/14 at Texas A&M
10/21 Kansas State
10/28 Oklahoma
11/4 at Nebraska
11/18 at Iowa State
11/25 Kansas

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-4
2005 Record: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Arkansas St W 44-17
9/10 New Mexico L 45-35
9/17 Troy  W 52-21
10/1 Texas L 51-20
10/8 at Oklahoma St W 38-31
10/15 Iowa State W 27-24 OT
10/22 Nebraska W 41-24
10/29 at Kansas L 13-3
11/5 at Colorado L 41-12
11/12 Baylor W 31-16
11/19 at Kansas State L 36-28
12/30 Independence Bowl
South Carolina W 38-31

The defense had to rebuild last year, and all the inconsistencies should pay off in a big way with a speedy, talented front seven that should camp out in opposing backfield. The secondary has the most work to do, but there are big, athletic prospects to expect big things out of playing around star safety David Overstreet.

So the talent is in place, but then the nagging question has to be whether or not Pinkel can coach this group. While not on a burning hot seat, Pinkel could use a good start and a few big wins to keep things from getting toasty. Teams with 17 returning starters are supposed to contend for division titles, especially in the average Big 12 North, and another also-ran season will get the fans grumbling.

Can the team get up for the average non-conference schedule without falling flat on its face like it did against New Mexico last year and Troy in 2004? Can it come up with a clutch win in the second half of the season? Under Pinkel in the last five regular season games of each of his five seasons, Mizzou has gone a lousy 10-15 and has only beaten one team (Iowa State in 2004) in November that finished with a winning record.

But all the problems, all the mediocrity, and all the failed expectations of the past can go bye-bye with one big season and an appearance in the Big 12 title game. The wheels were set in motion with a tremendous victory over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl, and the schedule starts off nice and squishy to build up a big early record and some confidence.

In other words, it's time to jump back on the Missouri bandwagon. Really, it is.

The Schedule: There's no reason the experienced Tigers shouldn't be 4-0 to start the season against Murray State, Ole Miss, at New Mexico and Ohio, and they can't afford a slip up with a tough conference slate ahead. The Big 12 schedule is nasty missing Oklahoma State and Baylor and having to go on the road in back-to-back weeks to face Texas Tech and Texas A&M. The season will come down to late road trips at Nebraska and Iowa State both coming off a home showdown with Oklahoma.

Best Offensive Player: Junior TE Martin Rucker and sophomore TE Chase Coffman. You can't have one without the other. The two tied for the team lead in receptions (47) last year and each will be an integral part of the offense. Coffman has unbelievable hands, while Rucker has next-level talent as both a receiver and a blocker. They'll be the safety valves for new starting quarterback Chase Daniel to rely on.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Brian Smith. The school's all-time leading sacker with 24, Smith is still an unknown around the college football world. He started off his career as a pass rushing specialist and has grown into a tremendous, All-Big 12 caliber end. His presence frees the rest of the line up for plenty of one-on-one blocking.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Chase Daniel. He doesn't have to be Brad Smith, but he has to spread the ball around well and he can't afford to make mistakes. He should throw for more touchdowns than Smith did and will push the ball deeper, but he obviously won't rush for 1,301 yards and 16 touchdowns. As long as he's effective on third downs and in the clutch, everything will be fine.

The season will be a success if ... the Tigers win the Big 12 North. With road games at Texas Tech, Nebraska and Iowa State, a division title probably won't happen, but the team is too experienced to shoot for anything less. They don't have to be perfect to win the North, but they won't be able to slip up at home and will need to win three of the four conference road games to be playing in December.

Key game: November 4th at Nebraska. Missouri can't win the Big 12 title if it can't beat the Huskers in Lincoln for the first time since 1978. Considering it's a sandwich game between Oklahoma and at Iowa State, this showdown becomes even more important. 

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 118 - Missouri 79
- Sacks: Missouri 30 - Opponents 16
- Fourth down conversions: Missouri 17 of 28 (61%) - Opponents 8 of 14 (57%)

The Last Time Missouri…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Independence Bowl v. South Carolina)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Ball State)
…was shutout…2002 (Kansas State)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Troy)
…went undefeated…1909
…won a conference title…1969 (share, Big 8)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Brad Smith)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Justin Gage)
…had a first-round draft choice…2001 (DE Justin Smith)

Related Stories
Missouri Preview 2006 - Defense
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Missouri Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Missouri Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Jul 31, 2006

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