2009 Missouri Tigers Football Preview
2008 Record: (10-4, 5-3)
2008 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Northwestern (W 30-23)
Coach: Gary Pinkel (59-41 at Missouri, 132-78-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: David Yost
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Steckel
Other Key Returnees for Mizzou: WR Danario Alexander, C Tim Barnes, DT Jaron Baston, OT Elvis Fisher, CB Carl Gettis, S Del Howard, S Kenji Jackson, LB Luke Lambert, S Hardy Ricks, DE Jacquies Smith
Key Losses: CB Castine Bridges, OT Colin Brown, DE Tommy Chavis, LB Brock Christopher, TE Chase Coffman, QB Chase Daniel, S Justin Garrett, DT Evander Hood, WR Jeremy Maclin, S William Moore, WR Tommy Saunders, DE Stryker Sulak, CB Tremane Vaughns, K Jeff Wolfert
The 2008 season was supposed to be the year that Missouri made a major push towards a Big 12 championship. All the pieces were there for major success, but instead the Tigers found themselves bowling against Northwestern. Now all the talk around Columbia is still about the departed Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Evander Hood and William Moore. The long listed of talented departures goes on and on and even one of the best kickers in the game, Jeff Wolfert, has wrapped up his collegiate career.
The lone returning skill player who saw significant playing time last year is running back Derrick Washington. With a decent crop of linemen returning, led by center Tim Barnes and left tackle Elvis Fisher, Washington should have plenty of room to run. And there may be a little more running going on this year than one would expect out of the Missouri offense. New offensive coordinator Dave Yost plans to do a little more power running than before and that should play into the Tigers strength this year. Despite the loss of receivers Maclin and Tommy Saunders and tight end Chase Coffman, there are a few relatively experienced receivers ready to step up. Danario Alexander and Jared Perry are capable playmakers and there are youngsters like Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson who hope to be the next Maclin.
But exactly who is going to get them the ball? Daniel is gone and so is his backup Chase Patton. That leaves sophomore Blaine Gabbert as the only option. If he struggles, Missouri will have to look to a couple incoming freshmen and that would most likely end in disaster. That means it is very important that Gabbert is ready to go when the games start to matter. As bad as the quarterback situation could be, the defense is in worse shape. Only four starters return and the players that were lost were some very talented individuals who will be playing on Sundays this fall. And somehow the Tigers ranked 117 th in the nation in pass defense even with all those quality players. Something has to fundamentally change or this group could give up a ton of points in a hurry and not have the offense to keep up.
The Bottom Line for the Tigers:
Gabbert is ready to succeed thanks to the talent around him, but the offense simply cannot be as good as it was last year. Even just losing Maclin would make the offense worse. But at least the unit should be decent and could even slow things down a little bit by giving Washington the ball more often. In the end it will come down to the defense and linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Luke Lambert will be thoroughly tested as both leaders and playmakers.
By Joel Welser
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