#35 Missouri Football 2019 Preview

Missouri Tigers
Overall Rank: #35
#8 SEC
 Missouri Logo
Missouri enters the 2019 campaign with some momentum after winning four straight games to end the regular season. However, for now the Tigers are banned from a bowl, but the school has appealed the seemingly rough decision considering the infractions. A decision will not likely be known until September, after the season has started.
2018 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2018 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (L 33-38)
Coach: Barry Odom (19-19 at Missouri, 19-19 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Derek Dooley
Defensive Coordinator: Ryan Walters
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Larry Rountree, RB, 1,216 yards
Passing: Taylor Powell, QB, 134 yards
Receiving: Johnathan Johnson, WR, 737 yards
Tackles: Cale Garrett, LB, 112
Sacks: Jordan Elliott, DT, 3.0
Interceptions: DeMarkus Acy, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Tyler Badie, TE Albert Okwuegbunam, WR Jalen Knox, OL Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, S Tyree Gillespie, DB Christian Holmes
Key Losses: QB Drew Lock, RB Damarea Crockett, WR Emanuel Hall, OL Paul Adams, DT Terry Beckner, DT Walter Palmore, LB Terez Hall. LB Brandon Lee
Last season Missouri ranked 13th in the nation in total offense. This group could be even better. Quarterback Drew Lock is gone after a superb collegiate career, but the Tigers welcome former Clemson starting quarterback Kelly Bryant to the program for one season. Bryant brings a dual-threat dynamic that Lock lacked and that should open up this offense even more. Johnathan Johnson and Jalen Knox are proven receivers and Arkansas transfer Jonathan Nance is expected to make a big impact as well. And then there is tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who caught 43 passes for 466 yards and six scores in nine games in 2018. Larry Rountree will again be one of the most dangerous running backs in the SEC after rushing for 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns. With an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks last season, this group will score in bunches.
The problem last season was the defense, especially the pass defense. The front four can stop the run, but they need players like Chris Turner and the versatile Akial Byers to get to the quarterback consistently. Receiving a little assistance from linebackers like Cale Garrett, who tallied an impressive 112 tackles in 2018, would be helpful too. That would put less pressure on the secondary. The cornerbacks gained valuable experience and played well at times considering the lack of pressure by the front four. DeMarkus Acy, Christian Holmes and Adam Sparks should be more productive this season even if creating pressure remains a problem.
The Bottom Line:
Missouri could be a dark horse to win the SEC East. However, they may not be eligible to win it anyway. But by the time the big wins in the East are played, we will know if the Tigers are actually playing for a trip to the SEC championship game when they face Georgia on November 9th and Florida on November 16th. If the defense can step up, those two games will go a long way in deciding who will win the East, even if Missouri is just playing spoiler.
Projected Bowl: Texas Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 202.4 (33rd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 279.4 (22, 3)
Total Offense: 481.8 (13, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.6 (18, 3)
Rushing Defense: 126.5 (22, 4)
Pass Defense: 262.0 (112, 14)
Total Defense: 388.5 (62, 10)
Scoring Defense: 25.5 (50, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (63, 10)
Sacks: 2.08 (70, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 1)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#22 Albert Okwuegbunam