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Fast 40 countdown: Missouri

August 29, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Missouri Tigers

Last season: 10-3, 13th in the MRI

The good: Blaine Gabbert may be gone, but almost the entire offense returns for the Tigers. James Franklin, who took the field in the Wildcat offense last year will be the full time starter in 2011. That might take away a tad from the passing game, but it could be made up for on the ground with Franklin's legs. Perhaps Franklin will become a speedier version of Brad Smith.

De'Vion Moore should be able to improve this season on his 517 yards from last year and Kendial Lawrence should have no problem stepping up, as the running game will likely become more important for Missouri as Franklin is finally forced to pass the ball.

The bad: The defense returns six starters from last season, but you wouldn't realize it if you looked at the stat sheet from last season. The Tigers are missing six of the top ten tacklers from last season. But the defensive line looks to be strong with the return of Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison, who combined for 13 of the 36 sacks last year.

The bigger issue for Missouri is the non-alignment that occurred with the loss of Nebraska and Colorado. The conference is now a single division and Missouri can no longer just feast on the North division and hope for a good draw out of the South.

And the Tigers got no favors in the scheduling of the first round robin. They travel to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, perhaps the two best teams in the conference. They do get Oklahoma State in Columbia along with Texas.

Plus Missouri's nonconference slate includes a trip to Arizona State, which will not be a gimme this season.

Best name: Bud Sasser

Trending: Down - Losing Blaine Gabbert would be tough enough for Missouri, even with the personnel back on offense, but losing Gabbert, adjusting to the conference alignment, and trying to restock the defense is a big chore. The Tigers just don't get the talent that the Texas and Oklahoma schools do to just reload each season instead of rebuilding. And having to travel to the top two teams in the league just leaves no room for improvement, let alone stability in the Missouri game. The Tigers will probably make an appearance at some point in the MRI top 25 (they still get to play Kansas, Iowa State and a couple of easy nonconference games) but they will not be the mainstay near the top 10 as they have been the last four seasons.

   

Posted August 29, 2011 11:45 AM

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