Previewing San Diego State's 2010 Opponents: Missouri Tigers

Missouri is the only real threat to challenge Nebraska for the Big XII North title and the Tigers also will be considered a team near the top 25 rankings come this preseason.  Within the conference every major publication has them second with only The Sporting News having them at third behind Kansas. 

Missouri's offense should improve off of their mediocre season they had last year, as they were middle of the pack in most Big XII offensive categories. Part of that has to do with the loss of Dave Christensen who was the offensive coordinator at Missouri for eleven years and was part of the Tigers staff for sixteen years.  New offensive coordinator David Yost kept the same offense, but the offense did not click with the loss to QB Chase Daniel graduated in 2008.  Blaine Gabbert is a promising five star rated recruit coming out of high school had a decent year leading the Tigers to the Texas bowl.

With a year under his belt and nearly the entire offensive line back the Missouri offense should be much better.  Not to say his inaugural season was a failure as Gabbert had 24 TD's to nine picks, 3,593 yards, and nearly a 60% completion percentage.  Drastically increasing those numbers will prove a tough challenge, but the way the offense will improve is in the running game.  Last year, the Tigers leading rusher was Derrick Washington who had a decent year with 865 yards but had ten touchdowns.  Not only does Washington return but so does the top three backs from last year, and with an offensive line that is experienced the running game will be the key for the Tigers to challenge Nebraska for the Big XII North title.  Former high school Parade All-American Kendial Lawrence is expected to get an increase work load from his 200 plus yard season.

The Big XII is known for not being a great defensive conference, but rather a league that plays defense when necessary, with only a few exceptions every so often.  The Tiger defense was just average last year (see a theme here)  by being eighth in total defense within the league.

None of the Big XII North teams have any type of offense outside of Nebraska, but even their offense is not out of this world.  However, just like the offense they return a lot of talent off of an just average unit, but typically when a large unit returns the following year there should be an uptick in production.  The tough games the Missouri defense needs to worry about are Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech, then possibly Texas A&M, and San Diego State.  The only one that scares me is Oklahoma with Tech a close second which can depend if the Air Raid is truly going to stay in Lubbock.

The player to watch for Missouri is Aldon Smith who had 11.5 sacks as a freshman while playing the defensive line. Opposing teams will take notice which means Smith's production may decrease with double teams and specific schemes, but that will open up other players to run free or only having to beat single coverage.  Besides Smith there was not much else in terms of tackle or sack production from anyone single player. To try to bring some more good news back to the Tigers is that they bring back a lot of depth from players who did contribute to a decent level.

Against San Diego State the defensive backfield will get a work out, but the Tigers do have a potential play maker on their roster with Sophomore Kip Edwards who had a few pass breakups and an interception in a limited role.  Look for Edwards to be lined up against WR Vincent Brown which will be a good matchup to watch.


Coach: Gary Pinkel
Last season: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big 12. Lost to Navy 35-13 in the Texas Bowl.

RETURNING STARTERS

(minimum of six starts)
Offense (9): C Tim Barnes, T Elvis Fisher, QB Blaine Gabbert, T Dan Hoch, WR Jerrell Jackson, TE Andrew Jones, WR Wes Kemp, TB Derrick Washington, G Austin Wuebbels.
Defense (8): LB Will Ebner, LB Andrew Gachkar, CB Carl Gettis, SS Jarrell Harrison, T Dominique Hamilton, CB Kevin Rutland, FS Jasper Simmons, E Aldon Smith.
Special teams (1): K Grant Ressel.

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