Missouri Preview 2016: The Tigers aren’t that far away from getting back to SEC East champion form.
Teams occasionally come up with total clunkers out of the blue, and sometimes teams just have off seasons. And then there were the 2015 Missouri Tigers.
After two straight SEC East titles and being one win away from playing for the national championship in 2013, all of a sudden, no one could quite figure out how to score.
Mizzou finished 13th in the nation in scoring three years ago, slipped in 2014 – but still went 11-3 – and then came the bizarre disaster of 2015 scoring more than 13 points in two of the final ten games in one of the weirdest possible seasons.
There were bigger issues on a campus-wide scale involving protests, the school president, and concerns that went far beyond just the football program.
There were the Gary Pinkel health concerns finishing up with his retirement announcement and farewell tour.
And there was the offense that couldn’t move the ball a lick.
One of the most efficient and effective offensive programs under Pinkel finished second-to-last in the nation in scoring, 124th in yards, and with almost no pop or explosion whatsoever in a shocker of a losing season.
But here’s the big positive under new head coach Barry Odom – it might not take all that much to get the groove back.
As bad as the Tigers were on offense, the defense turned out to be just that good doing everything it could to save the season. It might have been a miserable year for the team overall, but Mizzou still went 5-7 and had lots and lots and lots of chances to do more.
New offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has plenty of experience to play around with for a faster-paced, quicker attack that changes things up a bit.
With a quarterback who looks the part in Drew Lock, help for the running game coming in, and with veteran at receiver, the production should be a little bit better – it can’t be any worse.
Defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross steps in for Odom and inherits a potential killer. Almost all of the top tacklers are back, the pass rush should be as deadly as ever, and the secondary will be among the most productive in the SEC.
There won’t be the drama of last season, the coaching situation is settled, and there’s a chance to refresh and revamp the program and get back into the SEC East title mix with a few good breaks.
The pressure won’t be on and there won’t be any expectations to deal with. After three straight shocking seasons – all in different ways – Mizzou could stun again. This time it’ll be a positive.