Sunday, July 16, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Preview: Missouri Tigers
Gary Pinkel left Mizzou die to major health issues, but it was apparent that he was losing his focus on the program before he left, and the wheels were coming off the rails. Barry Odom heads into his second every season as a head coach, and time for learning is coming to an end. He may have some major pieces to succeed on offense, but can the defense catch up? It's going to be interesting to see how this football team responds in year two of the current era.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Drew Lock is back to run what should be a solid offense in 2017. Lock passed for 3399 yards and 23 TDs to just 10 INTs. He needs some support around him this fall. He attempted 36.2 passes per game last fall, which may be too much. If he gets more support from the run game, he becomes a better, more efficient QB.
Damarea Crockett broke a freshman rushing record at Missouri with 1062 yards rushing, and he also added 10 scores. He averaged 6.94 yards per carry last season, and is a major big play threat in this offense. More work from him this season will mean more success from this offense. Ish witter returns as well, and is one of the best backups in the nation.
J'Mon Moore is back at receiver as well, and caught 62 passes for 1012 yards and eight scores. He also averaged 16.32 yards per catch. He is one of the better receivers in the conference, and in the nation. Johnathon Johnson and Dimetrios Mason also both return to start, and combined for 71 receptions last season.
The entire line also returns intact, as all five starters return. Tyler Howell is back at LT, Kevin Pendleton at LG, Alec Abeln at C, Adam Ploudre at RG, and Paul Adams at RT.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The PK position seems to be the only spot that is in flux as far as productivity is concerned. Tucker McCann is back, but hit only six of 12 FG attempts in 2016, and that will not get the job done. Someone needs to come in and make a push.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The defense is really where the probems begin and end for the Tigers as we enter fall camp in 2017. The Tigers allowed 31.5 points per game last fall, and allowed 28 points pr more seven times last season.
Marcell Frazier is the lone returning starter on the line as a senior. He finished second on the team last season with 8.5 TFLs, but he has little in the way of help coming in this fall.
Both Safeties return in Ronnell Perkins and Cam Hilton. They combined for nine PBUs last season and 92 tackles as well.
Corey Fatony is back at Punter, and had a rock solid effort last fall when he averaged 43.85 yards per punt. Having his leg will go some distance to relieve a beleaguered defense, giving them real estate to work with.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The Tigers stacked the deck on the line with JC transfers, but how much they will help is yet to be seen. The best of the bunch appears to be DT Rashad Hamilton, and he put on a show in spring ball.
Eric Beisel is back at LB, but he finished with just 44 tackles on the year. He did add 6.5 for loss. Terez Hall, a junior, looks to be in contention for a starting job, but is in a battle with Brandon Lee for that job as we head to camp.
Both CBs and the NB must be replaced in the 4-2-5 set. Missouri allowed 246.8 yards passing per game last fall, and that number may get worse with a new coverage group in place.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Missouri State, 9/9 South Carolina, 9/16 Purdue, 9/23 Auburn, 10/7 at Kentucky, 10/14 at Georgia, 10/21 Idaho, 10/28 at U Conn, 11/4 Florida, 11/11 Tennessee, 11/18 at Vanderbilt, 11/24 at Arkansas
Barry Odom has found his perfect combo on offense, and nobody brings back such an explosive run/pass/catch triad in the SEC as much as Missouri does. Hardly anyone in college football brings together such a successful QB, RB, and WR. Where it all can go wrong is on defense, and one cannot rely on the fact that improvement is on the horizon there. Odom is working hard to fill the gaps, but currently is taking some shortcuts with the JC route, which is unsustainable long term. He has to recruit hard on the defensive side of the ball, and build long term, and that is the only way to fix this problem, and that takes some time. As for now, with an incomplete football team entering the season, it would look to me as if the Tigers will be battling Vanderbilt to see who will be at the bottom of the SEC in 2017.