#34 Missouri Football 2021 Preview

Missouri Tigers
Overall Rank: #34
#8 SEC
 Missouri Logo
It was a difficult year to break in a new coach, but that is what Missouri had to do in 2020. Coach Eliah Drinkwitz stepped into a rebuilding project and came out the other side with a solid 5-5 record while only playing SEC teams. For the most part, Missouri was consistent and beat the teams they should have beaten. Four of their five losses came against teams that finished the year in the top 25.
2020 Record: 5-5, 5-5
2020 Bowl: None
Coach: Eliah Drinkwitz (5-5 at Missouri, 17-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Marcus Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Wilks
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tyler Badie, RB, 242 yards
Passing: Connor Bazelak, QB, 2,366 yards
Receiving: Keke Chism, WR, 458 yards
Tackles: Devin Nicholson, LB, 82
Sacks: Trajan Jeffcoat, DL, 6.0
Interceptions: Devin Nicholson, LB, 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Devonte Lee, WR Tauskie Dove, DB Martez Manuel, DB Ennis Rakestraw Jr, K Harrison Mevis
Key Losses: RB Larry Roundtree, WR Damon Hazelton, WR Jalen Knox, LB Nick Bolton, S Tyree Gillespie, S Joshuah Bledsoe
The ground game was never able to get going against the better teams on the schedule. Tyler Badie will be the new top running back after rushing for 242 yards on 48 carries a season ago. Elijah Young is another promising speedy back, but this team may not have a between the tackles rusher that is needed in the SEC. Quarterback Connor Bazelak had a promising redshirt freshman season, throwing for 2,366 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions. Bazelak completed 67.3 percent of his passes, but that number is a bit inflated since he was not looking down field all that often. With Keke Chism and Tauskie Dove providing big targets and a year running the offense, expect Bazelak and the offense to be more dangerous and dynamic in 2021.
By the end of the season, Missouri’s defense was falling apart. The Tigers gave up 48 points to Arkansas, 49 to Georgia and 51 at Mississippi State to end the season. New defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will hope that experience and few new bodies will give him plenty of options to work with in 2021. The front line should be strong as long as everybody can stay healthy. Trajan Jeffocat is a proven pass rusher and Kobie Whiteside is a quality tackle when healthy. Losing linebacker Nick Bolton hurts, but Devin Nicholson is back after tallying 82 tackles and Rice transfer Blaze Alldredge is expected to step right into Bolton’s old spot. The secondary is full of questions. Both starting safeties are gone and a few young cornerbacks return after getting thrown into the fire in 2021. If the corners can use that experience to their advantage, the unit should be in decent shape.
The Bottom Line:
The Tigers have a manageable schedule by SEC standards. An earlier indicator of where this team is at will come with a week two road trip to Kentucky. After that they get Tennessee, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida at home. Road trips to Vanderbilt and Arkansas are winnable games. The hope for Missouri is that they can continue to beat the teams they should beat, but include squads like Kentucky and Tennessee in that. If that happens, Missouri could be in the mix for an SEC title heading into November.
Projected Bowl:  Duke’s Mayo Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 135.2 (91st in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 266.8 (32, 6)
Total Offense: 402.0 (59, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.7 (78, 7)
Rushing Defense: 162.2 (61, 7)
Pass Defense: 245.8 (84, 5)
Total Defense: 408.0 (66, 8)
Scoring Defense: 32.3 (85, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.50 (97, 10)
Sacks: 1.90 (83, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.60 (30, 4)