2017 Opponent's Preview: Missouri

Anthony Dasher, Editor
GA Varsity

2017 RECORD: 4-8 Overall, 2-6 in the SEC East

KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: QB Drew Lock, RB Damarea Crockett, RB Ish Witter, WR J'Mon Moore, LT Tyler Howell, DE Spencer Williams, DT Terry Beckner Jr., FS Cam Hilton

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Xg5x9uucofrqkia3ufcw

USA Today

Year One under new head coach Barry Odom didn't go quite as planned as the Missouri Tigers limped their way to a 4-8 record.

Not much is expected from Mizzou this fall as far as the SEC East is concerned, but with an experienced quarterback in Drew Lock and the return of playmakers Damarea Crockett and J'Mon Moore, the Tigers should put more points on the board than they did a season ago.

If the defense can get back to its 2015 form, Mizzou fans could be in for a fun year, as PowerMizzou published Gabe DeArmond explains in the Q&A below.

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UGASports: What’s your current overall outlook on Missouri for this upcoming season, based off of what you saw this spring?”

DeArmond: "The outlook is mostly schedule driven. The Tigers have a road game at UGA and a home game against Auburn, which are probably the two toughest tests. But Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina all come to Columbia. The Tigers play at Vandy, Kentucky and Arkansas. As far as SEC schedules go, that one's pretty favorable. Lock and the offense have to become more consistent and the defense has to be closer to what it was in 2015 than what it was in 2016, but as of today I'm predicting seven wins and a return to postseason play. The non-conference schedule is tissue paper soft and I think Mizzou finds three wins in league play. A game better or a game worse wouldn't be a big surprise."

UGASports: What can you draw as far as how an opponent like Georgia should scout Missouri and then game-plan for the Tigers on each side of the ball?

DeArmond: "Not much. One player told us he looked at the play sheet and laughed because it was so basic. This isn't a question I feel like I can really answer at all until a couple of weeks into the season. But a good starting point is slowing down Crockett and Ish Witter who quietly combined for about 1800 yards rushing last year."

UGASports: Which positions do you think Missouri feels best heading into the 2017 and why? Drew Lock is an up and coming young quarterback, but after that there are some gaps. What are the biggest ones that will need to be filled?

DeArmond: "I'd say they feel good about quarterback...assuming Drew Lock stays healthy. If he doesn't, it becomes a huge concern because no other QB on the roster has taken a college snap. Really, the Tigers are in pretty good shape all across the offense. They bring back ten starters from a group that was much improved last year, including Damarea Crockett and J'Mon Moore, who topped 1,000 yards rushing and receiving, respectively.

"A major question is the defensive line. Charles Harris is gone and the Tigers had only a couple healthy scholarship defensive tackles in the spring. They will bring in six defensive tackles in the recruiting class, most of whom aren't going to be here until the summer. I think that and cornerback--where they lost both starters to graduation--have to be the biggest question marks. Throw in placekicker where highly touted recruit Tucker McCann struggled mightily as a freshman."

UGASports: Which position battles were some of the ones to watch this spring?

DeArmond: "I'd say the secondary was the spot that got most of the attention because, again, a lot of the defensive linemen aren't here. Missouri has a lot of bodies there, but I'm not sure there's one guy we KNOW will start the first game at corner or safety. There could be some shifting along the offensive line, though Mizzou brings back all five starters and pretty much everyone that contributed. Middle linebacker between Eric Beisel and Cale Garrett will be one to watch. Both will play, but only one can be listed as a starter."

UGASports: Who do you see as Missouri's top players on each side of the ball and why?

DeArmond: "On offense, it's Crockett without question. He had a phenomenal freshman year and Mizzou fans are excited to see what he can do when he's the man for a full season. Defensively, Marcell Frazier will step into Harris' role and many hope he turns into the next great Missouri pass rusher (he was pretty good last year). The top player for the season should be Terry Beckner Jr., but he missed most of spring after his second torn ACL which was suffered late last season, so we didn't see a lot out of him in spring drills."

UGASports: Which lesser-known players really turned heads during practices and in the spring game?

DeArmond: "I'm not sure there really were any. We know a lot about this team especially offensively. And I don't have to lecture a guy who covers Georgia about just how little you can really learn from spring ball. Probably the main guy would be juco DT Rashad Brandon, who was drawing absolutely rave reviews.

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Magaky4y7v4jktxl6pzj

USA Today

Missouri 2017 Schedule

Date

Team

Sept. 2

Missouri State

Sept. 9

South Carolina

Sept. 16

Purdue

Sept. 23

Auburn

Oct. 7

at Kentucky

Oct. 14

at Georgia

Oct. 21

Idaho

Oct. 28

at UConn

Nov. 4

Florida

Nov. 11

Tennessee

Nov. 18

at Vanderbilt

Nov. 24

at Arkansas

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