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Three Reasons This Could Be A Great Season E-mail
Written by Slim   
Monday, 19 July 2010 01:39
Wes Kemp (8), Jerrell Jackson (29), and the rest of Mizzou's receivers will do just fine stepping up in place of Danario Alexander (right). Photo from johnschreiber.wordpress.com
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1.  Returning/Improving Players

Missouri returns 18 starters from a team that won eight games.

First and foremost, the Big 12 is a quarterback’s league and Missouri returns arguably the conference’s best in Blaine Gabbert. Yes, national pundits point to the losses of Spoon and Danario Alexander. But what they don’t realize is that the linebacking corps is arguably the best it’s ever been under Gary Pinkel. Mizzou has six linebackers (Gachkar, Ebner, Lambert, Gooden, Bonner, Tatum) that are “high level Big 12 players,” as Gary Pinkel says. The secondary returns all of its starters and all signs point toward that unit being improved in 2010.

“We’re looking real good. We’re going to be mean,” safety Kenji Jackson told me yesterday when I asked him how the defense looked.

Offensively, Mizzou returns four offensive linemen. That unit should do a better job of protecting Gabbert and creating lanes for Derrick Washington than it did a year ago. Washington has lost about 10 pounds this off-season and was impressive throughout the spring. At receiver, replacing Alexander won’t be easy, but a year ago everyone was talking about replacing Jeremy Maclin. This system breeds playmakers at wide receiver. I’d be shocked if a Mizzou receiver put up numbers like Alexander’s this year. However, I’d also be shocked if Mizzou’s receivers hold this team back. Guys are going to step up. Just because most of the nation doesn’t know names like Rolandis Woodland, L’Damian Washington, or TJ Moe, doesn’t mean that unit will struggle. Look for new playmakers to emerge.

With 18 returning starters, this Missouri team should have some of its kinks from 2009 worked out.

2. Second-year coordinators

I really don’t have any way of backing this up, but I’m going to go ahead and say that David Yost and Dave Steckel will be improved this year…

Last season, Mizzou had two first year coordinators in Yost (offense) and Steckel (defense). There were definitely some growing pains. All season fans complained about Missouri giving up on the running game too early. Defensively, there were plenty of ugly moments like when Mizzou gave up nearly 500 passing yards to some no name from Baylor.

So in their second years at their respective positions, Yost and Steckel have to be improved right? They have to have figured certain things out and will do a better job this season, won’t they? For arguments sake, I’m going to say they will, and hopefully that will lead to more W’s this year for Missouri.

3. The Schedule

There is not one game on the schedule that is not winnable. There is no game at Texas or at Oklahoma that you pretty much count on losing before the season starts. Sure, Mizzou has a very tough four game stretch early in the conference season. They play at A&M, home against OU, at Nebraska, and at Tech all in a row. None of those games are easy wins. However, it’s not too ridiculous to think Missouri could win all four of those. More realistically, Mizzou splits those four games. Even then, if Mizzou takes care of business, the other eight games on the schedule should be wins. If the Tigers go 2-2 in that tough stretch and win the rest, that’s a 10-win season. Then, depending on how things go for the Nubs, Mizzou could win the North and have a shot at the Big 12 title. Stranger things have happened. 10 wins would be a successful season for Missouri, and it’s not too hard to imagine it happening.


Check back tomorrow when I play devil’s advocate and give 3 reasons this season could be a disappointing one.

 

 



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