#61 Missouri 2018 Football Preview

Missouri Tigers
Overall Rank: #61
#11 SEC
 Missouri Logo
Following a two year drought, Missouri made it back to a bowl game in 2017. Early on it did not look like the Tigers were going to have much of a chance to reach the six win mark. They started the season 1-5. But a couple mid-season games against Idaho and Connecticut changed their momentum and Missouri beat Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas to finish the campaign. That momentum did not carry over into the Texas Bowl, but there were still plenty of positives to take away from the season.
2017 Record: 7-6, 4-4
2017 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Texas (L 16-33)
Coach: Barry Odom (11-14 at Missouri, 11-14 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Derek Dooley
Defensive Coordinator: Ryan Walters
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Larry Roundtree, RB, 703 yards
Passing: Drew Lock, QB, 3,964 yards
Receiving: Emanuel Hall, WR, 817 yards
Tackles: Cale Garrett, LB, 105
Sacks: Terry Beckner, DL, 7.0
Interceptions: Cale Garrett, LB, 2; Adam Sparks, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Johnathon Johnson, TE Albert Okwuegbunam, LB Terez Hall
Key Losses: RB Ish Witter, WR J’Mon Moore, DL Marcell Frazier, DB Anthony Sherrils
New offensive coordinator Derek Dooley has a very experienced group to work with. And this was a unit that ranked eighth in the nation in total offense and 14th in scoring offense. It starts with quarterback Drew Lock, who threw for 3,964 yards and 44 touchdowns during his junior season. He is a superb talent and the talent around him is pretty impressive too. Emanuel Hall is a big play threat every time Lock looks his direction. The senior receiver averaged nearly 25 yards per catch in 2017 and ended with 817 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnathon Johnson is an experienced threat too and Albert Okwuegbunam is one of the best pass catching tight ends in the country. Running back Ish Witter is gone, but Damarea Crockett is back from injury and Larry Rountree rushed for 703 yards and six scores. Behind an offensive line that returns five starters, the ground game is in great shape.
The Missouri defense has not been good the last couple of years. In 2017 they ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring defense and dead last in pass defense. Those numbers need to improve. Terry Beckner, the lone returning starting linemen, is a beast. He recorded 7.0 sacks last year and will likely be an early selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. With Texas transfer Jordan Elliott, the interior of the line may be the best in the SEC. However, there are serious questions at the end spots. The linebacker spots are loaded with Terez Hall, Cale Garrett and Brandon Lee back. Garrett led the team with 105 tackles. Cornerbacks DeMarkus Acy and Adam Sparks have experience now, but they were not very consistent last season and it does not help that Missouri will need to add a couple new safeties.
The Bottom Line:
The schedule is a little more traditional in 2018 with non-conference games against Tennessee-Martin, Wyoming and Purdue to start the campaign. That should give the defense some time to fill the gaps before the tough stretch of SEC games begin. This should be one of the most prolific and entertaining offenses in the country. If the defense can improve ever so slightly, this will be a tough team to beat. Even without improvement, the offense can carry this team back to a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Belk Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 193.5 (36th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 308.6 (14, 2)
Total Offense: 502.2 (8, 1)
Scoring Offense: 37.5 (14, 1)
Rushing Defense: 159.6 (58, 8)
Pass Defense: 254.5 (106, 14)
Total Defense: 414.1 (82, 11)
Scoring Defense: 31.8 (97, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.62 (110, 14)
Sacks: 2.54 (28, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 1)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#11 Drew Lock
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#242 Chad Bailey