Preview 2008 - Offense
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What you need to know: If everyone plays as well as
expected, this will once again be one of the five most
productive offenses in the nation. It all starts with Heisman
finalist Chase Daniel, an ultra-efficient passer who knows the
offense backwards and forwards. Now in his third year as the
starter and with 37 games under his belt, he'll make his
dizzying array of weapons shine. The receiving corps is loaded
with all-around playmaker Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase
Coffman, who'll be healthy again to start the year, unlike last
season, while Danario Alexander and Tommy Saunders are strong
targets to work with. The running backs will be fine with a good
combination of players to rotate around, and the line should be
fantastic if the starting five can stay healthy.
Passing: Chase Daniel
384-563, 4,306 yds, 33 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Jeremy Maclin
51 carries, 375 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Jeremy Maclin
80 catches, 1,055 yds, 9 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Chase Daniel
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore C
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Derrick Washington
and redshirt freshman RB De'Vion Moore
Best pro prospect: Sophomore WR Jeremy Maclin
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Daniel, 2) Maclin, 3)
TE Chase Coffman
Strength of the offense: Experience, passing game
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth, pure power runner
Senior Chase Daniel was
becoming a special player after a fantastic sophomore season,
and then it all came together in a magical campaign when he
completed 68% of his passes for 4,306 yards and 33 touchdowns
with 11 interceptions, while also running for 253 yards and four
scores. The 6-0, 225-pounder is a better all-around athlete than
he looks and has a deadly accurate arm whether in the pocket or
on the move. If you're looking for a comparison, he's a puffier
Drew Brees; they're both the same height and their college
careers are similar. The main difference is Brees's arm; it's a
big more live, but the pro scouts are going to start
scrutinizing Daniel in the same way they did a few years ago
when they had to travel to West Lafayette. While he couldn't
solve Oklahoma and he didn't do much, mainly because he didn't
need to, against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, Daniel did a far
better job of letting everyone else do the work. As a sophomore,
he pressed too much and tried to do too much on his own, and it
showed. He had far better command of the offense last season and
did a great job of putting the ball in places where his weapons
could do something with it. In general, the less he's running,
the better the offense is working because he's seeing the
defense better; the Oklahoma games showed that.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 220-pound senior
Chase Patton was a top-shelf recruit for the program coming
out of the Columbia area, but he got passed over with the
emergence of Daniel and hasn't been able to see too much of the
field. The 2003 Missouri Player of the Year is 6-5, 220-pounds
and mobile, but he hasn't been able to see much of the field
completing six of 13 passes for 60 yards with an interception.
An Elite 11 high school talent who could've gone to Tennessee or
UCLA, it's been a major shock that he didn't transfer; he has
the skills to have been a quality starter somewhere.
Sophomore Dominic Grooms is a 6-1, 195-pound athlete who
can throw on the move while providing more mobility than Daniel
or Patton. A key scout teamer last season, he's battling to see
time as the No. 2 quarterback as he tries to position himself
for the 2009 starting job. While he's compared in styles for
former Mizzou start Brad Smith, he's not as big.
Watch Out For ... an interesting philosophical battle
for the No. 2 job. Patton has been a good soldier after being
hailed as the star quarterback prospect who was going to take
Mizzou to the level Daniel has, and the coaching staff is going
to want to get him a little playing time. However, outside of an
injury to Daniel, the future of the team would be better served
by getting Grooms some quality time for next year.
Strength: Experience. Not only is this Daniel's
third year as the starter, but Patton is more than ready to step
in and play if needed. Having an option like Grooms to deal with
isn't a bad thing.
Weakness: True, live-fire backup experience.
Patton might be ready from all the time he's had in the system,
but he hasn't had any real pressure on him yet. Even with all
his talent and skills, does he have "it" for a big game if
Daniel goes down for a time? Grooms hasn't done anything on the
field, and incoming freshman Blaine Gabbert is obviously green.
Outlook: Daniel will once again be in the hunt for
the Heisman. With the knowledge of the offense and all his
experience, he's a special college player who'll make everyone
around him better. Patton is a decent No. 2 option to count on
in a pinch, while Grooms has the athleticism and X factor skills
to make defensive coordinators worry if he gets thrown into the
mix for a few plays here and there.
Projected Starter: Several backs will see the ball in a
running-back-by-committee approach, but 5-9, 200-pound senior
Jimmy Jackson will likely get the starting nod. The pounder
is the most experienced returning back, but he was little used
last season outside of mop-up time finishing with 331 yards and
six touchdowns, with three coming in the blowout over Texas Tech
when he got the start in place of Tony Temple. While he's quick
enough to bounce to the outside, he's a between-the-tackles
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Derrick
Washington was a little bit of work last season running for
184 yards and a touchdown, but he was at his best as a
short-range receiver catching ten passes for 70 yards with a
score. The 5-11, 215-pounder was the team's best back in spring
ball and will be neck-and-neck with Jackson going into fall
practices for the number one spot. While he doesn't have the
speed of De'Vion Moore and he might not be the pounder that
Jackson is, he's the best all-around option because of his
5-9, 195-pound redshirt freshman De'Vion Moore showed in
spring ball that he's ready to be a part of the rotation. An
excellent outside runner with tremendous quickness and
phenomenal straight line speed, he could be the home run hitter
out of the backfield that the Tigers have been missing, at least
when Jeremy Maclin isn't getting the ball.
Watch Out For ... running back by committee. That was
supposed to happen last year but Tony Temple proved to be too
effective. Now the young backs like Washington and Moore are
ready to shine. Each has the potential to be every bit as good
as Temple was.
Strength: Quickness. Missouri recruits to a type.
Its backs are all around 5-9 and 200 pounds with tremendous
lateral quickness and speed through the hole. There might not be
a lot of breakaway runs, even though Moore has the potential to
give the offense just that, but there are plenty of four and
five yards dashes through the hole.
Weakness: A workhorse. While the Tigers might have
three excellent backs, do they have one who can carry the load
when needed? Temple was able to carry the offense from time to
time when he had to, and while he wasn't exactly a workhorse, he
was almost always effective when healthy. One back needs to step
up and be the crunch-time guy.
Outlook: While many will lament the loss of
Temple, who ran for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns, the team
didn't really need him as much as it might have appeared.
Basically, he's replaceable. Jackson isn't a special back by any
stretch, but he can run for ten carries a game and be an
effective power option. Moore and Washington have the upside to
make the running game more than just an accessory for the
Every rising program has a special
talent who ends up coming from out of nowhere to become a major
difference maker. Sophomore Jeremy Maclin was a very good
recruit for Missouri, but he wasn't an elite, can't-miss,
All-America caliber one, and he appeared to take a major step
back after hurting his knee in a 2006 summer practice to keep
him on the sidelines. And then he came back healthy to turn in
one of the greatest freshman seasons in the history of college
football setting the NCAA record for all-purposed yards by a
freshman by amassing 2,776. He caught 80 passes for 1,055 yards
and nine touchdowns, ran for 375 yards (second on the team) and
four scores, averaged 24.2 yards per kickoff return, with a
touchdown, and averaged 12.3 yards per punt return with two
scores. At 6-1 and 200 pounds he has good size to go along with
his speed and quickness. Not just a home-run hitter, he was a
consistent all-around weapon who excelled whenever he got the
ball in his hands. He'll start at the H position, but he'll move
around to see action in a variety of ways.
The Tigers might lose Martin Rucker, who led the team in
receptions, but s more than fine with the return of senior
Chase Coffman. The team's third leading receiver, with 52
catches for 531 yards and seven touchdowns, was never quite
right all of last season as an ankle injury kept him from being
the explosive downfield target he was in his first two seasons.
Now that he's healthy, he'll be a matchup nightmare again with
soft hands, tremendous route running ability, and the strength
to fight off defenders for the ball. For his career, he has 157
catches for 1672 yards and 20 touchdowns; he'll be on the short
list for the Mackey Award.
When healthy, junior Danario Alexander is one of the
team's most dangerous receivers. At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he has
the size to outjump and outmuscle most defensive backs, while
has has tremendous deep speed and excellent athleticism. He
caught 37 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns, averaging
11.3 yards per grab, but he missed the first part of the season
with a broken wrist and tore up his knee in the Big 12 title
game. While he was out this spring, he's expected to be back
this fall to start at the outside X position.
6-0, 210-pound senior Tommy Saunders is a dependable
veteran who caught 41 passes for 397 yards and a touchdown at
the inside Z position. The former walk-on is a good athlete with
great hands who isn't afraid to make the tough catches. He might
not be a go-to guy, but he's a steady producer good for a few
grabs a game.
Projected Top Reserves: Working at the outside X
position until Alexander is 100% is 6-1, 180-pound junior
Jared Perry, a tremendously talented prospect who hasn't
been able to break out yet. He showed tremendous potential with
a great freshman season catching 37 passes for 439 yards and
three touchdowns, but he was lost in the shuffle last season
making just 13 catches for 152 yards. He has the deep speed and
the potential to be dangerous. Now he needs the ball to start
coming his away.
Senior Earl Goldsmith has been a part-time running back
with 92 yards last season, and now he's being moved to receiver
to play behind Saunders at the inside Z position. The 5-9,
200-pounder could move back to running back if needed, but he'd
be the fourth man in the mix. This way he can get the ball in
his hands more and make a bigger impact.
Getting ready to become the main
tight end in 2009 will be junior Jon Gissinger, a 6-3,
240-pounder who hasn't been able to see much action yet. He'll
likely be the team's main long snapper, but he'll also make an
impact as a receiver with good hands and nice route running
skills. Chase Daniel's roommate, he'll be sure to see a few
passes come his way this year.
Watch Out For ... Perry. With Will Franklin gone the
team needs more threats to push the passing game deep. Even when
Alexander is healthy, Perry will play a bigger role.
Strength: Talent. Amazingly enough, the offense
lost its best deep threat in Franklin, and its leading receiver
in Rucker, and could be even better if Perry and Alexander step
up at the X position. Coffman will be healthier, Maclin will be
Maclin, and Saunders will be as steady as they come. There's a
vast array of weapons to work with.
Weakness: Not much. There are steady, exciting
playmakers at all the positions, promising backups, and young
players waiting in the wings for a chance at more playing time.
The only possible knock is the lack of a sure-thing, proven deep
receiver. Franklin only did one thing, but he did that one thing
Outlook: If Maclin does what he did last year and
Coffman is 100% healthy again, this will be an unstoppable group
with too many weapons for most defenses to deal with. The
coaching staff will have its choice of formations with so many
options and so many decent targets to get involved. Maclin will
be moved around to several spots to get the ball as much as
possible, while Coffman should be an 80-catch playmaker.
There are two big holes to fill at
left tackle, where Tyler Luellen owned the job, and at center, where
Adam Spieker was a great quarterback for the front line. All eyes will
mostly be on junior Dain Wise at the tackle spot as he'll have
the job of protecting Chase Daniel's back. The 6-5, 305 pounder has
played at several different positions and will get the first look at
replacing Luellen. He doesn't have a lock on the job by a long shot, but
he has the size and the experience to be the favorite.
Taking over in the middle will likely be sophomore Tim Barnes, a
6-5, 305-pound top-shelf recruit who has the potential to be the team's
next great lineman. Originally a guard, he switched to the middle last
year and saw a little bit of time behind Spieker. Bigger than Spieker,
he could grow into even more of a force for the ground game; the talent
level isn't a question.
6-5, 305-pound Ryan Madison returns to his spot at left guard for
the third year in a row and should be the veteran leader of the front
five. He's a steady, consistent run blocker who has the most experience
of anyone on the line. Extremely strong, he's the one the team will work
behind for the hard yards.
The right side of the line is set with the return of junior guard
Kurtis Gregory and senior tackle Colin Brown after both
started every game. Brown is one of the Big 12's best linemen and the
star of the show earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and even a
few first and second team mentions from a few outlets. At 6-8 and 325
pounds, he's a huge blocker who overcame a shoulder injury to become a
rock at tackle. The former walk-on can play guard if needed using his
excellent combination of side and athleticism.
The 6-5, 305-pound Gregory earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors is
tackle-quick to go along with his good size. A question mark going into
last season after suffering shoulder and knee injuries, he turned into a
dependable all-around blocker.
Projected Top Reserves: While Wise is expected to
become a rock at left tackle, he'll be pushed by promising redshirt
freshman Elvis Fisher. With a world of upside, he has excellent
athleticism and quickness, but he needs a little more seasoning. He'll
get it. If he doesn't end up starting, he'll see plenty of meaningful
6-54, 285-pond redshirt freshman J.T. Beasley was one of the
team's highest rated recruits last season and now will battle for time
behind Barnes in the middle. The finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football
will quickly get off the bench and into the mix even if Barnes turns out
to be an instant star.
Watch Out For ... the new starters to be more than
fine. Losing Luellen and Spieker isn't a plus, but Wise and Barnes are
highly-touted prospects who are ready to step in and produce. They might
not be all-stars right away, but they'll come up with strong seasons.
Strength: Talent. After years of recruiting solid
linemen, Pinkel and his staff started to get the better talents. It's
all coming together as the Tigers are able to replace good players with
other strong producers.
Weakness: Veteran depth. There isn't much of any.
Four redshirt freshman and an untested sophomore comprise the second
team. There's potential and promise among the young players, but there
will be big problems if injuries strike early on.
Outlook: Three good starters return and two
excellent new prospects are ready to step in and fill the holes at
center and left tackle. The Tiger line was fantastic last season as it
kept Chase Daniel clean and powered over everyone in the running game.
All will be fine as long as everyone is healthy. The backups need time
and seasoning before they'll be remotely ready to step in. The starting
five will do everything well.