2007 Missouri Preview - Offense

Posted May 14, 2007

Preview 2007 Missouri Tiger Offense Preview

Missouri Tigers

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know:
If all the parts are working as expected, this should be one of the nation's five most productive offenses with an embarrassment of riches to work with. Junior QB Chase Daniel is growing into a star leader with more than enough weapons to choose from. The tight end combination of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman is the best in the nation, Will Franklin can fly on the outside, and Tony Temple leads a small, quick backfield that'll rip through the holes created by a talented, experienced line. The problems? Consistency and proven play in crunch time. The numbers are going to be there, but they have to come against the top teams in the big games.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chase Daniel
287-452, 3,527 yds, 28 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Tony Temple
193 carries, 1,063 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Chase Coffman
58 catches, 638 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Chase Daniel
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT Dain Wise
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Danario Alexander
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Martin Rucker
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Rucker, 2) TE Chase Coffman, 3) Daniel
Strength of the offense: Experience, tight end
Weakness of the offense:
Power runner, power offensive line


Projected Starter
On the verge of being one of the Big 12's special players, junior Chase Daniel now has to earn the growing national respect by winning some big games. While he threw for 3,527 yards and 28 touchdowns with ten interceptions, he pressed over the second half of the year trying to do too much on his own. He's mobile, he's accurate, and he's a baller; he's tough and feisty. When he's on, like he was late in the season, the spread offense can hum. Now he has to use everyone around him a bit more and not force plays that aren't there.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 220-pound junior Chase Patton was a top-shelf recruit for the program, but he hasn't seen much action yet and got passed by with the emergence of Daniel. He has the size, a little bit of mobility, and a big arm to keep the passing game going if something happens to Daniel.

Third in the mix is redshirt freshman Dominic Grooms, a tremendous athlete who isn't all that big at 6-1 and 185 pounds, but he's the best runner among the quarterbacks and can throw a little, too.

An interesting prospect to keep an eye on will be redshirt freshman J.P. Tillman, who at 6-3 and 250 pounds is a big option with a major-league arm and a little bit of running ability.
Watch Out For ... the backups to need to be counted on at some point in the year. Daniel isn't all that big at 6-0 and 225 pounds and isn't the type who'll dive out of bounds. He'll take some big shots from time to time. Fortunately ...
Strength: The backup prospects. If something does happen to Daniel, Patton has been around long enough to know what he's doing, and is a big passer who can produce, Grooms is a scary runner, and Tillman is a fascinating emergency option. However ...
Weakness: Backup experience. There isn't any. Even thought there's talent behind Daniel, none of the backups are proven under fire.
Outlook: Daniel is one of the rising stars of the Big 12 and the type of player who can potentially carry the Tigers on his back to a North title. However, the coaching staff has to learn the lessons from the Brad Smith era; no one can do it alone. The spread naturally lends itself to relying too much on the quarterback at times, but the more Daniel can simply manage the game and not try to make every play, the better the attack will be.
Rating: 8

Running Backs

Projected Starter
5-9, 200-pound junior Tony Temple has been inconsistent, fumbles too much, and hasn't been much of a receiver, but he's growing into a top runner coming off a brilliant 194-yard, two touchdown performance in the Sun Bowl loss to Oregon. His key will be staying healthy after having problems before last year, but if he's right all season long, he'll hit more than his share of home runs and will be up for All-Big 12 honors. He's fast, can cut on a dime, and is a near-perfect runner for what the Tigers do.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Jimmy Jackson is a near-carbon copy of Temple, but he provides more pop between the tackles. He was the second leading running back last season with just 123 yards and a touchdown, and now he'll get even more work to rotate with Temple.

Also in the hunt for more playing time is senior Marcus Woods, another small, darting back who gained 84 yards a year after appearing to be the team's new star runner with 863 yards in his first two seasons. He has the hands to be far more involved in the passing game.

Junior Earl Goldsmith is good enough to be a regular contributor, but he has to stay healthy. He struggled with a bad ankle last off-season and suffered a broken hand last year finishing with 79 yards and a touchdown. He has too much speed to not be get a few carries a game.
Watch Out For ... more of a rotation. Temple is the main man and will get the lion's share of the carries, but he isn't big enough to get 250 carries a year. Getting Chase Daniel to run a little bit less would also be a plus to make sure he stays healthy. That means the backups need more work after not doing nearly enough last season. Jackson, Woods and Goldsmith combined for just 349 yards; that has to at least double.
Strength: Quickness. Missouri certainly recruited to a type with all the backs small, shifty and very, very quick. They can all zip through the hole.
Weakness: Power back. There isn't one. Temple is always moving forward and Jackson can be physical, but there isn't a sure-thing back to get two yards when they're absolutely needed.
Outlook: It's a good situation with four backs who could all start at any time if needed. Temple would be best used getting around 15 carries a game while letting the backups combine for the rest of the workload. Fortunately, Missouri has several good options to carry the workload and fill several different roles.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters
No team in the nation will use its tight ends more, and for good reason. While senior Martin Rucker is technically the starter and junior Chase Coffman technically the backup, they each get equal work and are like co-starters. The 6-6, 245-pound Coffman, who led the team with 58 catches for 638 yards and nine touchdowns, is a strong enough receiver to be used as a big wide receiver at times. A matchup nightmare with soft hands, tremendous route running ability and the strength to fight off defenders, he's a great go-to target.

The 6-5, 255-pound Rucker was second on the team with 53 catches for 511 yards and five touchdowns. While he's not quite the receiver Coffman is, he's a better blocker and better in the open field than his 9.6-yard-per-catch average would suggest.

The tight ends get all the attention, but 6-2, 205-pound senior Will Franklin is the home run hitter averaging 17.3 yards per catch last season. He was third on the team with 48 catches for 829 yards and six touchdowns, and with his 4.4 speed and amazing leaping ability, he'll be even deadlier with safeties having to spend more and more time dealing with the tight ends.

At the inside Z position will once again be junior Tommy Saunders, who caught 25 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. The former walk-on won't be a main man in the passing game, but he's extremely athletic, has some of the best hands on the team, and will once again be a nice third or fourth target.

At the H, if Coffman or Rucker doesn't move there, will be sophomore Danario Alexander, who saw a little bit of time as a true freshman making 15 catches for 251 yards and a touchdown. At 6-4 and 205 pounds, he's big, amazingly athletic, and very fast. He could eventually play at the outside X.

Projected Top Reserves: True sophomore Jared Perry is the star of the future, and could be the star of the present if the coaching staff can find a spot for him either at the H or at the X. He finished fourth on the team with 37 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns showing off his speed and skills when Franklin was out for a stretch.

Seniors Greg Bracey and Jason Ray won't see too much work, but they're decent veterans to rely on if injuries strike. Ray, who caught two passes for 50 yards, has terrific hands, while Bracey, who caught caught three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, has good speed.
Watch Out For ... Coffman and Rucker to be on the field at the same time. If you have two All-America tight ends, you use them both as much as humanly possible.
Strength: Options. So, who are the safeties going to key on? Take away one of the Tiger targets, and someone else will explode. Watch out for Franklin deep and Coffman and Rucker will make play after play underneath. Keep the safeties in tight, and Saunders, Alexander and Perry will make big plays.
Weakness: Consistency out of all the receivers. The tight ends get so much work that the wideouts are sometimes afterthoughts. They have to in the game from start to finish and exploit the single coverage they'll all see.
Outlook: It all starts with Rucker and Coffman, who'll combine for at least 120 catches and pose a variety of nightmares. It'll be a shock if Franklin doesn't average close to 20 yards per catch, while Saunders, Alexander and Perry would make for a solid starting threesome even without the top Tiger stars. Basically, Mizzou is loaded.
Rating: 9

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The left side of the line is set starting with massive 6-7, 295-pound senior Tyler Luellen at tackle. He wasn't quite healthy throughout last year, but he still started all 13 games as one of the rocks up front. Terrific in pass protection, he's a good banger for the ground game with decent mobility.

Next to Luellen will once against by junior Ryan Madison, a former center who worked his way into a starting role and now appears ready for a huge season. Extremely strong, he'll be a rock for the running game.

While those two are as reliable as they come, the star of the line is 6-3, 305-pound senior All-America candidate Adam Spieker. A tremendously strong anchor for the last three years, he has become a true leader and a perfect quarterback for the line. A dominant run blocker, he's also great at working with Chase Daniel to sniff out mismatches.

The right side isn't as solid as the left, but it won't be bad with the emergence of sophomores Kurtis Gregory and Dain Wise. The 6-5, 305-pound Wise will take over for all-star Joel Clinger at tackle after seeing a few games in the rotation. A great prospect out of high school, he was named the most improved lineman coming out of spring ball.

The 6-5, 305-pound Gregory will eventually shine at guard, or possibly at tackle if needed, but he'll have to get healthy after having surgery on his shoulder and knee. He has future all-star written all over him with a fantastic combination of size, strength and athleticism.

Projected Top Reserves: With Gregory out this spring recovering, sophomore James Stigall got plenty of work on the right side and could end up starting if needed. He's more likely to start the season behind Madison on the left side as an extremely talented, versatile prospect who started off as a top center prospect.

Also in the mix is 6-5, 325-pound senior Monte Wyrick, who's one of the team's biggest, strongest players and a reliable veteran at guard. With plenty of experience, he'll start at times throughout the year when needed.

Backing up Luellen on the left side is 6-8, 325-pound junior Colin Brown, who has the frame to play tackle and the versatility to move to guard at times. He has to first fully recover from a shoulder injury suffered in off-season workouts.
Watch Out For ... the line to be a brick wall in pass protection. Luellen and Spieker don't get beaten, while there are several options to fill in the gaps if someone's not producing.
Strength: Versatility. With mainstays like Mizzou has on the left side, and Spieker in the middle, the coaching staff doesn't have to worry about who to run behind in a pinch. In injuries hit, most of the linemen are versatile enough to play different spots to make sure the best five blockers are always on the field.
Weakness: Power blocking. This is a big, talented line that can get into grooves where it'll give Chase Daniel five days to throw and open up some good holes for the ground game, but it had too many problems last year blasting lines off the ball in crunch time. Is this a mean enough, physical enough line to come through when needed? That remains to be seen.
Outlook: It's an experienced, good line that did a terrific job in pass protection last season and beat up on the average defenses. If it can produce for a full sixty minutes, and be the type of front five that can pave the way for a six minute drive to put the nail in the coffin, it'll be one of the team's strengths.
Rating: 8


Related Stories
2007 Missouri Preview
 -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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