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Missouri Tigers Opponent Preview

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The Missouri Tigers have won the SEC East two years in a row. Can we start to hate them now? Is it possible? Check back sometime in December...

Mizzou's Gary Pinkel
Mizzou's Gary Pinkel
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

SB NATION SITE: Rock M Nation

SCHOOL: The University of Missouri, founded in 1838.

HEAD COACH: Gary Pinkel, Kent State '73.

MASCOT: Truman the Tiger.

ENROLLMENT: 35,441

FIGHT SONG: "Every True Son" (which is a helluva lot better than Rocky Top.  But then again, so are nails on a chalkboard....)

NOTABLE ALUMNI: Tennessee Williams, Kate Capshaw, Cheryl Crow, John Anderson (ESPN), Tim Geraghty (My former Executive Producer at WTVJ in Miami and an all-round good dude), Elizabeth Vargas.

A BUDDING RIVALRY? WE HAVE LOTS OF SIMILARITIES...

Missouri has an outstanding Broadcast Journalism School.  The University of Georgia has an outstanding Broadcast Journalism School.  In a perfect world, Elizabeth Vargas (Mizzou) and Amy Robach (UGA) would have some sort of cage match.  Amy would win, though, because she'd whack Vargas upside the head with her PEABODY AWARD medallion, only THE most prestigious award in all of Broadcast Journalism.  Dawgs on Top!

SERIOUSLY, THOUGH...

It is awfully hard to write too many disparaging things about Mizzou.  First of all, I've still got some mighty fond memories of my 2012 trip over to Columbia where the Mizzou fans I interacted with were welcoming, gracious and fed me ribs.  That's a lot of goodwill to overcome, even in this Conference.  Secondly, Missouri won the SEC East fair and square.  We had to beat Florida and we didn't.  Mizzou needed to run the table down the stretch in some hostile venues and they did.  Hats off to 'em.  Enough about last season.  This season, the Tigers travel to Athens and hope to repeat their fortunes of 2013.

MIZZOU'S OFFENSE

Quarterback Maty Mauk - 6' 0", 195 lbs. - will once again be called upon to run the offense in 2015.  His numbers in 2015 were good, not great:  221 completions of 414 attempts, 2648 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  Mauk was sacked 23 times - a seemingly high number given his mobility, but then again because of his mobility he was caught behind the line on some designed running plays that were, statistically, a sack.  Mauk is elusive, but runs hot and cold.  Last season against Georgia, he had a disaster game that he'd certainly rather forget and atone for.

Missouri's receiving corp is pretty much gone due to that NCAA rule that you have only 4 years of eligibility, in most cases.  Bud Sasser, Jimmy Hunt and Darius White combined for almost 2100 yards of offense last season.  This year, the Tigers must look towards young guys like Nate Brown, J'Mon Moore, Ray Wingo and Desean Blair.

Nate Brown is the Tigers' career catches leader at wideout, with five. - Bill Connelly, Rock M Nation

Tight End Sean Caulkin had 20 receptions for 174 yards last season.

Running back is where Mizzou will lean heavily upon in 2015.  Gone is Marcus Murphy, but senior Russell Hansbrough should increase his workload and surpass his 1084 yard/10 touchdown season of a year ago.  The offensive line is led by senior Evan Boehm at center, with 40 career starts.  Mizzou's entire starting 5 are all seniors and have 97 starts worth of experience.  Mizzou will be a run-first, pass second team this season but as their receivers develop, they could become more balanced as the season progresses.

DEFENSE

The Tigers defensive line suffered a blow when defensive tackle Harold Brantley was seriously injured in a June 21 automobile accident, thus lost for all of 2015.  In 14 games last season, Brantley recorded 54 tackles, 5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss.  All-Everything tackles Marcus Golden and Shane Ray are gone, and youth will be served on the line in 2015 - certainly a point of vulnerability, especially against capable running teams like Georgia.  Mizzou will simply be forced to play a few freshman and hope that they can build some depth along the way.

Mizzou has plenty of experience returning at linebacker, most notably seniors Kentrell Brothers, Clarence Green, and juniors Michael Scherer, Donavin Newsom, and sophomore Eric Beisel.

The secondary is a position of strength, with the most significant loss in the graduating strong safety Braylon Webb.  At cornback, junior Aarion Penton and senior Kenya Dennis will play often and are solid.  Sophomore Thomas Wilson and junior John Gibson will alternate in different packages, with Wilson handling safety along with senior Cortland Browning.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Mizzou's kicking game is solid, with seemingly-forever senior Andrew Baggett returning for one more 'round.  Baggett was 18 of 25 in field goals (72%) and 43 of 45 in PAT's.  The Tigers will be unveiling a new punter in 2015, and must replace Marcus Murphy in the return game, with Tyler Hunt returning with only 4 kick returns.

THAT SCHEDULE.  MAYBE HERE'S YOUR REASON TO HATE MIZZOU...

  • 9/5  Southeast Missouri State
  • 9/12 @ Arkansas State
  • 9/19  UConn
  • 9/26  @ Kentucky
  • 10/3  South Carolina
  • 10/10  Florida
  • 10/17  @ Georgia
  • 10/24  @ Vandy
  • 11/5  Mississippi State
  • 11/14  BYU
  • 11/21  Tennessee
  • 11/27  @ Arkansas

Drawing Mississippi State out of the west is probably a pretty good break this season, although going to Fayetteville at the end of the year to play a tough Arkansas team is a challenge.  Outside of their road game in Athens, Mizzou gets the toughest part of the East at home.

PREDICTION

Georgia will be coming off of the Alabama and Tennessee games when Missouri arrives in town on October 17.  No matter what happened the prior two weeks, Georgia is going to run the ball and grind down an inexperienced Mizzou defensive front all day, rotating fresh backs that are hopefully still part of a 4 or 5 player rotation.  Last year, Georgia played their best defensive game, shutting out the Tigers in Columbia 34-0 and forcing Maty Mauk into some poor decisions.  This season, expect more of the same with more edge and middle pressure from our plethora of linebackers and safeties.  The Tigers will hang for a half, but Georgia should grind them down in the 2nd half.  Dawgs 31, Mizzou 17.

AS ALWAYS, GO DAWGS!