Monday, April 03, 2006

Big 12 Spring Football Review: Missouri

The 2006 spring camp will be very interesting for the Missouri Tigers as they look to a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years. Since head coach Gary Pinkel took over prior to the 2001 season Brad Smith has been the man leading the charge for the Tigers offense.

Chase Daniel and Chase Patton, along with Brandon Coleman, will compete to become the Tigers next quarterback which will make this spring one of the most watched camps since Pinkel arrived on campus.

Improvement is what the Tigers are looking for this spring and with 17 players returning who started in the Independence bowl it is also expected by the fans and well as the coach.

"When you have a lot of guys coming back that have played significantly in the past, the key is that every single one of those players has to have their best year and play better," said Pinkel. "If they play as good as they did the year before, that means they went backwards. That's our rallying cry right now - you have got to be a better football player. You can't play just as good as you did the year before. That isn't going to be good enough, that means we'll go backwards as a team, and we can't do that," he said.

Pinkel has been pleased with the effort and attitude he has seen in the off-season from his Tigers.

"I think obviously there's a real enthusiasm and excitement after finishing the season the way we did," he said. "I think there's a sense of confidence and a sense of hunger that you want more once you get a taste of it, and I think that the way we won the bowl game only helps drive that further," he said, referring to the win which ranked as the biggest comeback win in school history (21 point deficit).

"There's a lot of players that haven't played that now are competing to get into the depth at first or second team, and that's what spring football is all about," Pinkel added. "I think our players are excited about spring, because spring is that time of year when you go get jobs, and we create a very competitive environment here, every job is open, even if you've been a starter in the past, you go compete," he said.

On the offensive side of the ball, it's a good-news, bad-news situation - Missouri returns eight starters from a year ago that have proven themselves time and again, but the three starters lost were multi-year stars, including Smith at quarterback, left guard Tony Palmer and wide receiver Sean Coffey.

The early favorite to take over at quarterback will be sophomore Chase Daniel, who last year, as a true freshman, won the backup job and got some invaluable experience throughout the year. Daniel played 10 games in mostly a reserve role, and threw for 347 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for one score as well.

Mizzou returns its top four rushers from the tailback position from 2005, including juniors Marcus Woods and Tony Temple, who between them, rushed for 912 yards and six touchdowns last season.

The Tigers return nine players who started on defense in the Independence Bowl win and the expectation is that this unit uses that experience to become more solid.
When speaking of his defensive unit Pinkel said, “I was very encouraged by how we closed the bowl game defensively, and with everyone we have coming back, I think we can get much better here."

The strength of the Tigers defense should be their line which returns all four starters giving Missouri one of the most experienced defensive lines in the conference.

2006 Missouri Tiger Football Schedule
Day Date Opponent Location
Sat 09/02/06 Murray State Columbia, Mo.
Sat 09/09/06 Mississippi Columbia, Mo.
Sat 09/16/06 New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M.
Sat 09/23/06 Ohio Columbia, Mo.
Sat 09/30/06 Colorado Columbia, Mo.
Sat 10/07/06 Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas
Sat 10/14/06 Texas A&M College Station, Texas
Sat 10/21/06 Kansas State Columbia, Mo.
Sat 10/28/06 Oklahoma Columbia, Mo.
Sat 11/04/06 Nebraska Lincoln, Neb.
Sat 11/18/06 Iowa State Ames, Iowa
Sat 11/25/06 Kansas Columbia, Mo.