Preview 2007 - Offense
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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.
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
Power runner, power offensive line
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.