#43 Missouri Football 2016 Preview

Missouri Tigers
Overall Rank: #43
#11 SEC
A new era begins at Missouri with the promotion of former defensive coordinator Barry Odom to the head coaching job. Coach Odom has spent a lot of time with the Tigers, as a player and a coach. The last four were as defensive coordinator so this should be a pretty smooth transition for the program. Coming off of a season with just one win in SEC play, there is a lot of work to do though.
2015 Record: 5-7, 1-7
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Barry Odom (0-0 at Missouri, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Heupel
Defensive Coordinator: DeMontie Cross, Ryan Walters
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ish Witter, RB, 518 yards
Passing: Drew Lock, QB, 1,332 yards
Receiving: J’Mon Moore, WR, 350 yards
Tackles: Michael Scherer, LB, 93
Sacks: Walter Brady, DE, 7.0; Charles Harris, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: 4 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: WR Nate Brown, TE Sean Culkin, S Anthony Sherrils, LB Donavin Newsom, CB Aarion Penton
Key Losses: QB Maty Mauk, RB Russell Hansbrough, WR Wesley Leftwich, LB Kentrell Brothers
Last year it was the defense that kept the Tigers competitive. The unit ranked fifth in country in pass defense, sixth in total defense and fifth in scoring defense. If they can keep that up, Missouri is going to win more games this year. The front line is amazingly talented. Ends Charles Harris and Walter Brady tallied 7.0 sacks each last year and tackles Josh Augusta, Rickey Hatley and Terry Beckner are among the best in the conference. With that line, the Missouri defense is in great hands. The story at linebacker is the same with a wealth of talent and experience returning. Kentrall Brothers is gone after leading the team with an impressive 152 tackles, but seniors Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom will be ready to pick up the slack. Cornerback Aarion Penton is a very talented cornerback and safety Anthony Sherrils recorded 64 tackles last season. The Tigers do need to find a new free safety and a corner to play opposite Penton, but there are options.
As good as the defense was last season, they got absolutely no help from the offense. The unit ranked dead last in the SEC in total offense and scoring offense. And it was not like they were just a one-dimensional offense; the Tigers ranked dead last in rushing and passing offense too. Quarterback Drew Lock struggled through a tough freshman campaign, throwing for just 1,332 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. The receivers are more experienced now too. Alabama transfer Chris Black could be the player this team needs in the passing game, but J’Mon Moore, Nate Brown and tight end Sean Culkin are also back. There is potential in the passing game, but there was last year too and obviously there is a long way to go for Lock and company. It would help if the ground game could establish something. Ish Witter led the team with 518 yards, but found the end zone just once. He will be pushed by Oklahoma transfer Alex Ross. While the skill positions are still young, but now have experience, the same is not true for the line. Last year it was senior heavy and now coordinator Josh Heupel must find some new faces. There are options, but it is hard to imagine the offense getting much better behind an unproven line that lacks depth.
The Bottom Line:
Missouri’s defense was able to keep them in games last year and they did manage to win five total. If the offense could have done just enough to win one of those low scoring SEC affairs, the Tigers would have done enough to get into a bowl game. That is what could happen this year. The non-conference slate includes a tough opener at West Virginia, but a stretch of contests against Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt starting in late October will give the Tigers an opportunity to reach a bowl game. The defense will again keep things close and the offensive skill players now should be able to at least occasionally get the job done and turn those 10-3 and 9-6 type of losses into wins.
Projected Bowl: Independence Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 115.4 (119th in nation, 14th in conference)
Passing Offense: 165.5 (112, 14)
Total Offense: 280.9 (124, 14)
Scoring Offense: 13.6 (126, 14)
Rushing Defense: 132.8 (28, 6)
Pass Defense: 169.3 (5, 3)
Total Defense: 302.0 (6, 2)
Scoring Defense: 16.2 (5, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (79, 10)
Sacks: 2.33 (43, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (93, 11)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#19 Charles Harris