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2007 Missouri Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 14, 2007


Missouri is loaded with veterans, speed, athleticism, and a whole bunch of talent led by tight end Martin Rucker. Is this the year the Tigers will finally live up to their potential and win the Big 12 North?

Missouri Tigers

Preview 2007


By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Missouri Offense Preview | 2007 Missouri Defense Preview
- 2007 Missouri Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Missouri Preview
 

Anybody who doubts whether Missouri coach Gary Pinkel feels his Tiger team has a chance to continue its upward arc in the Big 12 need only survey his latest recruiting class for reassurance.

Missouri is going to score points; that much is guaranteed, with eight starters returning. Junior QB Chase Daniel was excellent in Pinkel’s spread attack last year, and he should be even more effective now, particularly with every weapon of note returning, and JC speedster Tremane Vaughns available for defense stretching duty. The Tigers averaged 425.6 yards per game last year and should only be better in 2007.

Head coach: Gary Pinkel
7th year: 37-35
17th year overall: 110-72-3
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20 Def. 17, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. TE Martin Rucker, Sr.
2. TE Chase Coffman, Jr.
3. QB Chase Daniel, Jr.
4. C Adam Spieker, Sr.
5. OT Tyler Luellen, Sr.
6. DT Lorenzo Williams, Sr.
7. LB Brock Christopher, Jr.
8. RB Tony Temple, Sr.
9. PK Jeff Wolfert, Soph.
10. WR Will Franklin, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
10-2

Sept. 1

Illinois (in St. Louis)

Sept. 8

at Ole Miss

Sept. 15

Western Michigan

Sept. 22

Illinois State

Oct. 6

Nebraska

Oct. 13

at Oklahoma

Oct. 20

Texas Tech

Oct. 27

Iowa State

Nov. 3

at Colorado

Nov. 10

Texas A&M

Nov. 17

at Kansas State

Nov. 24

Kansas (in KC)

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2006 Record:
8-5
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Murray State W 47-7
9/9 Ole Miss W 34-7
9/16 at New Mexico W 27-17
9/23 Ohio W 31-6
9/30 Colorado W 28-13
10/7 at Texas Tech W 38-21
10/14 at Texas A&M L 25-19
10/21 Kansas State W 41-21
10/28 Oklahoma L 26-10
11/4 at Nebraska L 34-20
11/18 at Iowa State L 21-16
11/25 Kansas W 42-17
12/28 Sun Bowl
Oregon State L 39-38

With offense not a concern, all focus is on a defense that was fricasseed late in the year. Losing five of his top tacklers, Pinkel knew it was time to bring in some reinforcements…experienced reinforcements. Among the 27 newcomers are six junior-college transfers, four of whom are full-time defenders, and the fifth is an all-purpose type who could be used on defense if needed. The JUCOs will step in to bolster a line that was too generous against the run and needed more help pressuring the quarterback.

Missouri wants to be more than a minor-bowl participant this year, and with Nebraska coming to Columbia this year, this could be a fantastic opportunity to finally break through. Last year seemed to be the start of something big with a 6-0 start, but the Tigers staggered home 2-5 with an ugly loss at Iowa State and a near-miss against Texas A&M. The 39-38 bowl choke (and it was a choke) against Oregon State didn’t end things on a positive note, putting the heat on for this year.

Pinkel is right to smell an opportunity. But he must take advantage of it in a bigger way than he did last year’s 6-0 start. Otherwise, the Tigers run the risk of watching Nebraska blaze ahead, and the rest of the Big 12 North gain ground.

What to look for on offense: Many thought that the loss of Brad Smith would cripple the Mizzou attack, but Daniel was a revelation, passing accurately, running well and handling the offense capably, when he wasn’t trying to do everything himself. Now, he must get better at working the outside and generating more big plays. Tailback Tony Temple’s return ensures a good ground attack, while the tight end tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman will be unstoppable. Basically, expect more production from an attack that was the nation’s eighth best in 2006.

What to expect on defense: The defense wasn’t bad last season, but it broke down late. Now the hope is to get back to the early-season form, hoping the transfers help stabilize the front. Pinkel must rely on youngsters at linebacker and needs the pass defense to get stingier despite the loss of corner Domonique Johnson, who quit the team this spring.
           
This team will be a lot better if… it boosts its special teams. The Tigers were 104th in net punting (32.2 yards) and 115th in kickoff returns. The arrival of Jake Harry, a heralded junior-college punter, will puss Adam Crossett, while Vaughns could help the return game. Something little like this might be the difference between a good year and a Big 12 North title.

The Schedule: It’s interesting, to say the least, and it’s also likely to work out in Mizzou’s favor as the year goes on. While there are only four true road games (at Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas State), there are two neutral-site games, against Illinois in St. Louis and in Kansas City against Kansas. Those won’t necessarily be home games, but they won’t be far off. With three of the tougher Big 12 games (Nebraska, Texas A&M and Texas Tech) at home, there’s no reason not to win the North.

Best Offensive Players: Senior TE Martin Rucker and junior TE Chase Coffman. Either one could earn All-America honors, but combined, they form one of the nation’s deadliest 1-2 punches. Coffman’s a slightly better receiver, while Rucker is the somewhat better all-around player, being used as a blocker, in the passing game and on trick plays. Coffman has 105 catches in his first two years for 1,141 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Rucker has 119 grabs for 1,341 yards and ten scores in three seasons.

Best Defensive Player: Senior NT Lorenzo Williams. The anchor up front, the 295-pound senior makes more big plays than most linebackers and ends, despite playing in the defensive interior. He’s tough on the nose, terrific at holding at the point of attack and good at collapsing the pocket, allowing others to shine. The only concern is a problem called anterior compartment syndrome, a leg problem that kept him out of spring ball and could be an issue this season.

Key player to a successful season: Senior P Adam Crossett, or junior Jake Harry. Where there are always more important players than the punter to worry about, the overall improvement in net punting could be the slight difference the Tigers need to finally get over the hump and go from very good to fantastic. The Big 12’s worst punting game led to the collapse in the Sun Bowl, and it didn’t help the cause in conference play against the better teams.

The season will be a success if ... Missouri wins the Big 12 North title. It’s time. The team is good enough, the schedule is as good as can be hoped, and the program has gone through its lumps to prepare for a season like this. At this point in the Gary Pinkel era, anything less has to be considered a tremendous disappointment.

Key game: Oct. 6 vs. Nebraska. The Tigers have won the last two meetings with the Huskers in Columbia, and the trend must continue in the conference opener for Missouri to finally be in a position to win the North. With a road trip to Oklahoma to follow, a loss would likely mean an 0-2 Big 12 start and also-ran status yet again.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Missouri 112; Opponents 58
- Sacks: Missouri 36 for 216 yards; Opponents 19 for 163 yards
- Kickoff return average: Missouri 17.1 yards; Opponents 21.1 yards

 

Related Stories
2007 Missouri Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 Missouri Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 Missouri Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007








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