2008 CFN Missouri Preview
Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin
Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin
Posted May 2, 2008

After coming within a game of playing for the national title, Missouri comes back loaded with the potential to finish the job, win the Big 12 Championship, and possibly play for it all. Check out the breakdown in the CFN Mizzou preview.

Missouri Tigers

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Missouri Preview | 2008 Missouri Offense
2008 Missouri Defense | 2008 Missouri Depth Chart
2007 CFN Missouri Preview | 2006 CFN Missouri Preview 

Interested in blogging about Big 12 football?  Let us know

Missouri had what it took to get into the V.I.P. lounge, but does it have what it takes to stay?

For years this was the program on the verge. Head coach Gary Pinkel put together strong team after strong team, but there was always a collapse here and an underwhelming performance there that kept the Tigers from turning into a player. That all changed last year.

Head coach: Gary Pinkel
8th year: 49-37
18th year overall: 122-74-3
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 14 Def. 22, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. QB Chase Daniel, Sr.
2. WR/KR Jeremy Maclin, Soph.
3. FS William Moore, Sr.
4. TE Chase Coffman, Sr.
5. LB Sean Weatherspoon, Jr.
6. DE Stryker Sulak, Sr.
7. DT Ziggy Hood, Sr.
8. LB Justin Garrett, Sr.
9. PK Jeff Wolfert, Sr.
10. LB Brock Christopher, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Illinois (St. Louis) 
Sept. 6 SE Missouri State
Sept. 13 Nevada 
Sept. 20 Buffalo 
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at Nebraska 
Oct. 11 Oklahoma State 
Oct. 18 at Texas
Oct. 25 Colorado 
Nov. 1 at Baylor
Nov. 8 Kansas State
Nov. 15 at Iowa State 
Nov. 29 Kansas (Kansas City) 

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 12-2

Sept. 1 Illinois (St.L) W 40-34
Sept. 8
at Ole Miss W 38-25
Sept. 15 Western Mich W 52-24
Sept. 22 Illinois State W 38-17
Oct. 6 Nebraska W 41-6
Oct. 13 at Oklahoma L 41-31
Oct. 20
Texas Tech W 41-10
Oct. 27 Iowa State W 42-28
Nov. 3 at Colorado W 55-10
Nov. 10
Texas A&M W 40-26
Nov. 17 at Kansas St W 49-32
Nov. 24 Kansas (in KC) W 36-28
Big 12 Championship
Dec. 1 Oklahoma L 38-17
Cotton Bowl
Jan. 1 Arkansas W 38-7

Helped by a slew of JUCO transfers on defense, the full maturation of several talented players on offense, a Heisman-finalist season from QB Chase Daniel, and a bolt of lightning from freshman receiver and kick returner Jeremy Maclin, Mizzou put together one of the best seasons in school history with a No. 1 ranking and a shot to play for the national title before Oklahoma ended those dreams in the Big 12 Championship.

While there are some big concerns in the linebacking corps, the leading rusher (Tony Temple) is gone along with the leading receiver (TE Martin Rucker), and the offensive line loses its two best players (Tyler Luellen and Adam Spieker), there's no reason to believe the program is ready to do anything less than contend for the Big 12 title. However, this is Missouri.

It's right to be skeptical. After all, this isn't exactly a place that oozes with an impressive football tradition. Whether or not last year was a fluke will be the big question in the Big 12. The league, from top to bottom, has improved, and it's not like the Tigers are going to be able to just show up and waltz through the North like it did for most of last season.

Pinkel isn't going to let anyone get comfortable. The positive side of losing the Big 12 title game, and being screwed by the BCS system, is that the team and program from the top down appears to understand that nothing was actually accomplished last year outside of having a lot of fun and coming up with a big record. Having a core of excellent veterans returning will keep the rest of the team from being satisfied.

Does Mizzou have staying power? That remains to be seen over the long haul, but it still belongs in the discussion of the elite of the elite teams for this season.

What to look for on offense: More from the running backs ... sometimes. It's not like the ground game was ignored last season with Tony Temple tearing off, 1039 yards and 12 touchdowns, but the Tiger attack was based around Daniel and the aerial show. While Daniel has a vast array of weapons to work with, and the passing game will still be the first option, there are several good backs ready to carry more of the workload. Daniel can run the ball, but the less he has to take a hit, the better.

What to expect on defense: A concern in the linebacking corps. The Tigers were supposed to be loaded here, but two promising backups are now off the team, the star of the show, Sean Weatherspoon, has a banged up shoulder, and Van Alexander has a torn ACL. There's little developed depth, so a rash of injuries early in the season could mean the difference between a Big 12 title and also-ran status.
This team will be a lot better if… there's a steadier pass rush. It wasn't bad last season, but it could be better. Stryker Sulak is an All-Big 12 pass rushing force, and there's good quickness across the line; now there needs to be more production. The corners are experienced, but average. The could use a little more help from the front four, especially if the linebacking corps is an issue in any way.

The Schedule:
Last year at this time, starting the season off against Illinois didn't seem like that big a deal. Now it's like a BCS game. Nevada is a good team, but it has to come to Columbia along with SE Missouri State and Buffalo before an off week. All things considered, outside of a trip to Texas, the Big 12 slate isn't all that bad getting Baylor and Oklahoma State from the South and hosting Colorado and an improved Kansas State. Iowa State is better, but that's not a horrible road trip. There's a week off before the regular season ender against Kansas in Kansas City.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Chase Daniel. Technically, Maclin is the team's best all-around weapon, and possibly its best pro prospect, but Daniel is the signature star who makes the machine go. His emergence as a steadier all-around passer, and his ability to use his weapons more, took the offense from good to unreal. He makes everyone around him better.

Best Defensive Player: Senior FS William Moore. With 6-1, 230-pound size, cornerback speed, and an uncanny nose for the ball in both the running and passing games, Moore is a tremendous pro prospect who'll be one of the Big 12's signature defensive stars. He's a do-it-all playmaker who has to be accounted for on every play.

Key player to a successful season: Senior CB Castine Bridges. Or sophomore CB Carl Gettis. Two corners with good starting experience are back, but one has to emerge as a true shutdown defender. Bridges is the bigger and more experienced of the two having seen time in the JUCO ranks, but Gettis has the bigger upside. The two combined for two interceptions last season, the total amount of picks by all the corners. That has to change.

The season will be a success if ... Missouri wins the Big 12 North title. After last season, anything less will be seen as a major disappointment. The schedule works out well, the team is talented enough to pull it off, and the expectations are set as a reasonably high level. The national title might be a bit out of reach, but if the Tigers can win the Big 12 championship, there's a chance everything else will fall into place.

Key game: Oct. 4 vs. Nebraska. 1978. That's the last time Missouri beat Nebraska in Lincoln, with some of the losses coming by ridiculously large margins. It'll be the Big 12 opener for both teams and the conference home opener for new Husker head coach Bo Pelini. He'll have his team fired up for the defending North champions, but this is where the Tigers can also make a statement. With a road game at Texas two weeks later, Mizzou has to break the streak or risk losing any shot at the Big 12 title by mid-October.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Missouri 125 - Opponents 43
- Penalties: Opponents 103 - Missouri 76
- Third down conversions: Missouri 107 of 202 (53%) - Opponents 95 of 226 (42%)



Related Stories
2008 Missouri Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 2, 2008
2008 Missouri Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 2, 2008
2008 Missouri Preview – Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 2, 2008

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