2010 Record | 10-3 (6-2 in Big 12)
Returning Starters | 15 (9 on offense, 6 on defense)
Key Losses | This is what is confusing to me. The Tigers actually lose quite a bit, more on defense than offense in terms of numbers, but Missouri loses a lot of pretty good talent. On offense, QB Blaine Gabbert and C Tim Barnes are both gone. Gabbert, a 1st round pick in the NFL is obviously a big deal and Barnes was the best center in the Big 12 last year. On defense the Tigers lose, DE Aldon Smith, LB Andrew Gachkar, and three members of their secondary CB Carl Gettis, CB Kevin Rutland, FS Jarrell Harrison.
Key Additions | DT Sheldon Richardson committed to Missour coming out of high school. Didn't qualify and had to go to JUCO where he was still a 4-star player at the College of Sequoias. Richardson is supposed to be a game-changer and he's the player on Missouri's team that's most likely to have an immediate impact (I actually think that if Richardson gets into the Big 12 groove quickly, it will be he and Leon Mackey battling for the Big 12's best newcomer).
Impact Offensive Player | Hard not to go with TE Michael Egnew, who is from Plainview and wasn't offered a scholarship by Texas Tech (sad face) caught 90 passes for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Impact Defensive Player | DE Brad Madison was a pretty good backup plan for Aldon Smith. Registering 31 tackles, 11 TFL, 7.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles last year is a productive year. And he was only a sophomore.
|Texas St. Bobcats||9/3/2011||Done|
|@ New Mexico Lobos||9/17/2011||Done|
|@ Kansas Jayhawks||10/1/2011||Done|
|Texas A&M Aggies||10/8/2011||Done|
|Kansas St. Wildcats||10/15/2011||Done|
|@ Oklahoma Sooners||10/22/2011||Done|
|Iowa St. Cyclones||10/29/2011||Done|
|@ Texas Longhorns||11/5/2011||Done|
|Oklahoma St. Cowboys||11/12/2011||Done|
|@ Missouri Tigers||11/19/2011||Done|
vs. Texas Tech | I mentioned in the "Key Losses" section, but it seems like the Tigers lose quite a bit, but they're still in the top 25 in just about any preseason list. Plus they're breaking in a new quarterback, who is replacing a quarterback that was one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12 and good enough to be a first round pick. And Missouri is replacing Gabbert with a sophomore, a true sophomore, in James Franklin and most national prognosticators aren't predicting much, if any of a fall-off. If anything, I think a tremendous amount of credit should go to Pinkel who has built a program. I've never understood why Pinkel doesn't get considered for national jobs as he's done a fantastic job at Missouri in leading the Tigers to being a consistent winner, year, after year. That's not easy. 10, 8, 10, 12 and 8. That's Missouri's win totals from the past 5 years and that's why Missouri gets the benefit of the doubt, because they've shown over the past five years that they can average 9.6 wins for the past 5 years. This doesn't mean that I don't have my doubts.
Franklin played last year as a true freshman, but had 14 attempts. Franklin a dual threat quarterback, but at Lake Dallas he threw for over 2,300 yards and rushed for over 1,200 yards. He was a really good player and one of the best players in the state of Texas when he was recruited. It helps that sans Barnes and recently injured OT Elvis Fisher, the entire offensive line returns, their top three running backs, including De'Vion Moore (517 yards, 7.6 YPC, and 8 TD), Henry Josey (437 yards, 5.75 YPC and 5TD) and Kendial Lawrence (422 yards, 5.78 YPC and 4 TD). All of Missouri's top receiving targets return, including preseason All-Big 12 players TE Michael Egnew (90 catches, 762 yards and 5 TD) and WR T.J. Moe (92 catches, 1045 yards and 6 TD). Don't forget that the other two top returning receivers also return in WR Jerrell Jackson (50 catches) and WR Wes Kemp (39 catches) return. If Franklin can get them the ball, he's got weapons galore.
Defensively, the Tigers return almost their entire defensive line, but arguably lose their best pass rusher in Aldon Smith (10 TFL and 4.5 sacks) and their best linebacker in Gachkar (84 tackles and 8.5 TFL). Despite that, Missouri replaces Smith with Brad Madison, who was pretty good in Smith's relief (Smith was injured part of the year) and led the team in TFL with 11.0 and 7.5 sacks, while DE Jacquies Smith (10.0 TFL and 5.5 sacks) will be on the other side. DT's Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton return on the defensive line and Jimmy Burge also played in a backup role. Other than losing Gachkar at linebacker, the Tigers do return starters Will Ebner (7th leading tackler) and Zaviar Gooden (2nd leading tackler).
The secondary is where Missouri loses the most. They were 37th in the nation in pass defense last year and in the Myerberg preview, he writes that despite losing 3/4 of thier secondary, the cornerbacks who will replace the starters will be better. I don't like that sort of logic from the standpoint that if that was true then they would have started last year. The argument would then turn to the idea that those departing members of the secondary were seniors and had experience, which would seemingly add to the idea that experience counts for a lot in football. I think that if Missouri falters, it's in the passing defense. Only SS Kenji Jackson returns. I still think it's tough to replace so many parts of the secondary, especially when those that are departing are your leading tacklers.
So where does this leave me? If it weren't for Missouri's past success then I'd have a tough time believing that they were a top 15 team. Replacing a top notch quarterback, almost the team's entire secondary and the team's best pass rusher (Smith had 1 TFL less than Madison, but Smith only played 10 games) is usually a tough thing to overcome, but Pinkel and Missouri have done such a good job of remaining consistent that it's tough to doubt them too much.