Preview 2017: The Missouri Plan Should Work If It All Comes Together
Can the offense and defense both produce? If so, Missouri could and should have a big season.
In theory, 2016 should’ve been a whole lot better. And, in theory, 2017 should be a whole lot better.
The defense was sensational for several years, including when Barry Odom was the defensive coordinator, but the offense crashed in 2015 after two straight SEC East title runs.
And then everything flipped. The offense cranked up massive yards last season – with former Oklahoma national title-winning quarterback Josh Heupel bringing aboard the pass-happy style as the new offensive coordinator – but the defense couldn’t stop a thing.
But Odom is a great defensive mind, and it needs to translate to Year Two of his head coaching gig. He’s helping to handle the D along with Ryan Walters, who knows how to coach up defensive backs, but struggled last season.
Bring back the D from a few years ago, keep the O from last season, and voilà – Missouri is an SEC player again.
If only it was just that easy.
There shouldn’t be any issue from the offensive side. QB Drew Lock is back along with almost all his targets to what should be a dominant air show. It needs to be more consistent, and it has to be stronger in SEC play, but all the parts in place to average well over 300 yards per game after coming up with 295 per outing last year.
All five starters are back up front, all the top running backs return – led by Damarea Crockett, who ran for over 1,000 yards with ten scores as a freshman, despite missing the final game after being suspended – and the coaching staff now has a year with the players in the system.
So all Barry Odom has to do is be Barry Odom again as a defensive coach.
There isn’t sure-thing superstar pass rusher like recent Mizzou teams have enjoyed, but there are a few who might rise up and be more than fine. There will be some tinkering with the alignment, but there’s experience at linebacker, and the safeties should be terrific.
Hope the young, athletic corners be ready for primetime, get more out of a miserable place-kicking season to go along with the strong punting game, and all of a sudden, anything less than an interesting, winning season would be a massive disappointment.
The SEC East is still full of question marks. Georgia still has to prove itself under Kirby Smart, Tennessee is rebuilding, South Carolina and Florida still have to find an offense, and Kentucky and Vanderbilt are Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Mizzou came from out of the blue in 2013 and 2014, but those can’t be seen as total aberrations. Since joining the SEC, the program has had three losing seasons in five years.
But now, this should work.