Missouri Tigers: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·10 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Missouri season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Missouri Schedule Analysis
Missouri Tigers Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 5.5 overall, 5-5 in SEC
Head Coach: Eliah Drinkwitz, 2nd year, 5-5 (17-6 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 33
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 45
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 87

Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Offense

It was a new coaching staff with a young quarterback trying to recharge a program during a global pandemic. Allow a little bit of forgiveness for an offense that wasn’t exactly smooth.

Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz wasn’t able to get the running game going except against the mediocre – the team was 4-0 when running for 180 yards or more – and QB Conor Bazelak and the passing attack didn’t do enough, but the O as a whole cranked up 402 yards and 27 points per game.

It’s a start.

Bazelak appears to be a keeper. At least the coaches are going into 2021 knowing who their main man is under center. Taylor Powell left for Troy, meaning redshirt freshman Brady Cook is the likely No. 2 after throwing for 72 yards and a score.

The receivers should be fine, but it hurts to lose Damon Hazelton to graduation and Jalen Knox to the transfer portal. Senior Keke Chism is a 6-4 target who led the team with 35 catches, and 6-3 junior Tauskie Dove has a world of upside. The transfer portal helped with Ohio State speedster Mookie Cooper sure to see an early role.

This Mizzou offensive front is fine, but it won’t be better after losing Larry Borom at right tackle. There will be a little bit of shuffling going on with enough good veteran options to come up with a strong front five around – most likely – Michael Maietti again at center and Case Cook at guard. Now they need more backs to block for.

Tyler Badie can catch, he averaged over five yards per carry, and was second on the team with 242 yards and four scores. Elijah Young is another slippery runner who can be a part of the passing game, but a thumper has to emerge to bring more power.

NEXT: Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defense wasn’t good enough. Granted, everyone will look bad with Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the slate, but the late-season collapse and 408 yards and 32 points per game led to new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. The NFL veteran will play around with the alignment as needed, and it starts with a nasty group of linemen to build around.

It hurts to lose veteran tackle Markell Utsey to Arkansas, but the Tigers have a terrific tandem in Kobie Whiteside and Akial Byers on the inside. Trajan Jeffcoat was an All-SEC pass rusher on the outside as the main man for a big group of ends.

Nick Bolton was arguably the best linebacker in the SEC, and now he’s a Kansas City Chief. Devin Nicholson is a solid 230-pound tackler in the middle, and the corps is getting a steal in former Rice Owl star tackler Blaze Alldredge to take over one of the outside gigs.

There are veterans in the secondary, but they need to do more big things for a defense that generated just four interceptions and got rocked way too often. There’s plenty of upside in former big recruit Jalani Williams at one safety spot to go along with 64-tackle veteran Martez Manuel.

Ennis Rakestraw was fine as a freshman corner with 24 tackles and six broken up passes, but again, this group needs to make more plays.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Missouri Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Missouri Tigers Offensive Player

QB Connor Bazelak, Soph.
The young starter got thrown into the job as a redshirt freshman, and now it’s his offense and team to run. No pressure or anything, but the entire season rests on his shoulders.

6-3 and 220 pounds, he’s got the size, the arm, and just enough mobility to get on the move if absolutely needed. He was kept under wraps a bit and didn’t turn it loose all that often – more on that in a later section – but it’s all there to do much, much more than play it safe for 2,366 yards and seven touchdowns with six picks like last year.

2. RB Tyler Badie, Sr.
3. WR Keke Chism, Sr.
4. OG Case Cook. Sr.
5. C/G Michael Maietti, Sr.

Related

2021 Missouri Football Schedule: Analysis, Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Best Missouri Tigers Defensive Player

DE Trajan Jeffcoat, Jr.
That was great. Now do it again.

A slew of defensive tackles might better overall for the D, but for a team that needs someone to get to the quarterback, Jeffcoat has the skills.

The 6-3, 265-pounder got his feet wet as a freshman and turned into an All-SEC pass rusher as a sophomore. He didn’t make enough plays behind the line with no tackles for loss other than his six sacks, but he was decent against the run with 23 tackles from his spot on the end.

2. LB Devin Nicholson, Jr.
3. DT Kobie Whiteside, Sr.
4. LB Blaze Alldredge, Sr.
5. S Martez Manuel, Jr.

Top Incoming Missouri Tigers Transfer

LB Blaze Alldredge, Sr.
You don’t just replace a talent at the level of Nick Bolton, and Alldredge doesn’t have anywhere near the same sort of all-around skills, but he’s going to tackle everything in sight.

The 6-2, 220-pound transfer from Rice made 214 stops in his 28 games with six sacks and 29 tackles for loss. Just assume he’s an instant starter who’ll pick up a whole lot of slack with the stats.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Missouri Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Missouri Tigers Biggest Key: Offense

What happened to the passing game? There were plenty of completions, and the offense was able to keep the interceptions to a minimum with just six on the year, and four of them came in the last two games.

However, Mizzou threw just nine touchdown passes in the ten games, and six of them came in two of them – four against LSU and two against Mississippi State.

Granted, Connor Bazelak was a freshman, and there weren’t nearly enough yards after the catch, but …

Nine touchdown passes? The offense has to start opening it up a bit.

Missouri Tigers Biggest Key: Defense

The secondary can’t keep getting rocked. The pass rush wasn’t good enough, but it had a few moments. Of course there were several great passing games on the slate, but a few more interceptions would’ve been nice.

Four.

The Tigers came up with four interceptions on the season, and two of them came at the very end in the loss to Mississippi State. But it was more than that for a Mizzou secondary that allowed three touchdown passes or more in five of the last eight games.

To be fair, the defense was solid at not allowing a whole lot of completions – just 59% on the year – and there were plenty of games when it kept offenses from going off. However, those games were against Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Allowing 7.9 yards per throw were way too many after giving up 6.2 in 2019 and

Missouri Tigers Key Player To A Successful Season

RB Tyler Badie, Sr.
Is Badie ready for the spotlight role? Larry Rountree spent the last few years as the team’s featured back, earning All-SEC honors with a 14-touchdown season and with over 3,700 career rushing yards and 40 scores. Now he’s a Los Angeles Charger.

Badie is more of a do-it-all back who’s been a nice part of the rotation, but he only had double-digit carries once last season. He can catch, and he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, but if Badie isn’t the guy who can bring it inside and out, Mizzou needs someone else to step up in fall camp.

Missouri Tigers Key Game To The 2021 Season

at Kentucky, Sept. 11
It’s the SEC opener for both teams and it’s a must win for each side. Georgia and Florida are the two best teams in the East, but the winner here could end up being third.

Win, and Mizzou will almost certainly be 3-0 – Central Michigan is before and SE Missouri State is after – with Tennessee the next SEC game and with winnable conference games against at Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Arkansas to go.

The Tigers lost five in a row to the Cats before pulling off a 20-10 victory last year.

Missouri Tigers Schedule Breakdown & Analysis

2020 Missouri Tigers Fun Stats

– Passing TDs: Opponents 21 – Missouri 9
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 82 – Missouri 47
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 72% – Missouri 56%

NEXT: Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Missouri Tigers College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

It wasn’t pretty, it ended badly, and 2020 Missouri will mostly be remembered for forever as the answer to a trivia question.

Missouri was the first program to ever play against a female player when Sarah Fuller kicked off in the 41-0 Tiger win.

It was also the first season under new head coach Eliah Drinkwitz, and all things considered, going 5-5 against an all SEC schedule wasn’t totally awful.

There was a win over LSU, but three of the five wins were decided by seven points or fewer, and none of the victories came against a team that finished with a winning record.

And now the program is going through a bit of a Year Two overhaul despite returning – potentially – eight starters on each side of the ball and one of the SEC’s better kicking situations.

Set The Missouri Tigers Regular Season Win Total At … 6.5

Mizzou has the franchise quarterback – fingers crossed – in Connor Bazelak to build around, the lines are good, and the starters should be fine, but as of this moment, 17 players are looking to leave Columbia through the transfer portal.

Again, the program is working through some things.

However, there’s enough talent in place to take advantage of a relatively okay schedule. There’s no Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss or Auburn on the slate.

Central Michigan, SE Missouri State, North Texas, at Vanderbilt. those have to be four wins, or else.

The Tigers can beat Tennessee and/or South Carolina at home, and they should be able to take care of Vanderbilt and/or Boston College on the road and push Kentucky and Arkansas.

It’s going to be a season of plowing through the inconsistencies again while continuing to build this thing up.

Expect a winning season and a bowl game – there’s no real excuse for anything less. Anything more will be gravy going into Year Three under Drinkwitz.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Missouri Schedule Analysis