2009 Big 12 Football Previews: Missouri

 

There’s a very good chance that the run of the Missouri Tigers as the Big 12 North Champions will come to an end in 2009. The Kansas Jayhawks are returning 15 starters and should take over as the frontrunners in the north. That means the pressure is off the Tigers as they enter a rebuilding year in which they are replacing 6 starters on offense and 7 on defense from last season’s north division championship team. It isn’t just attrition that could plague Missouri in `09 though. Their biggest hit may come from the loss of offensive coordinator Dave Christensen who left to take the head coaching job at Wyoming.

Offense

Among the players the Tigers are replacing on offense are Chase Daniel who was the school’s all-time passing leader and All Americans Chase Coffman and Jeremy Maclin. The good news for the Tigers offense is that they return three of last year’s starting offensive linemen and running back Derrick Washington.

 

`08 Offense Per Game Rank
Scoring

42.2

6

Rushing

153.8

52

Passing

330.4

4

Total

411.5

8

Washington ran for over 1,000 yards last season and will most likely be relied upon to carry the bulk of Missouri’s offensive load until new quarterback Blaine Gabbert has a full grasp on the offense. Should Washington breakdown the Tigers will be forced to turn to De’Vion Moore.

 

Gabbert played some garbage time minutes last year as a true freshman but only completed 5 passes in just 13 attempts. Not only will he be working with a new offensive coordinator in `09 but also a trio of receivers that not much more experienced than he is. With the departures of Coffman and Maclin the Tigers also lost the bulk of their receiving yards from last season. Jared Perry and Danario Alexander are both senior receivers but have played a backseat role in the offense the past three seasons and now must step up as leaders on the offense.

 

The chemistry between Gabbert and his receivers (as well as new offensive coordinator, David Yost) developing quickly is going to be crucial. Yost has been with the Tigers for 9 years as the quarterbacks coach but taking as far as him taking complete control of the offense he’s still unproven. If I were an opposing defensive coordinator I would play Missouri to stop the run and make Gabbert beat me over the top. If Missouri can regularly do that then they could be their offensive should once again be one of the Big 12’s most dangerous.

 

Defense

The defensive unit is what has truly been the crutch of the Tigers. Last season they were ranked 98th in the nation in total defense which I believe had just as much to do with the explosive Big 12 offenses as it did the personnel the Tigers had on the field. Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas are going to bring it again in `09 with offenses that could easily reproduce what they did in `08 and it’ll be up to a Tiger defense with 7 new starters.

 

`08 Defense

Per Game Rank
Scoring

27.2

69

Rushing

124.9

31

Passing

286.6

117

Total

411.5

98

Missouri may be pretty decent against the run with Sean Weatherspoon returning to anchor what should be a strong linebacking corps. However, the secondary and defensive lines are the hardest hit by graduations with only two starters returning between those two units. With the offensive experience possessed by the aforementioned teams on Missouri’s schedule it could make for few long Saturday afternoons.

RETURNING LEADERS
Passing Blaine Gabbert, 5/13, 43
Rushing Derrick Washington, 177/1,036, 17 TDs
Receiving Jared Perry, 41/567, 4 TDs
Tackles Sean Weatherspoon, 155
Sacks Sean Weatherspoon, 5

 

 

 

2008 High

2008 Low

30-23 OT win over Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl

62-29 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship

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