Missouri Season Win Total Prediction
The hits – of the negative variety – just keep on coming for Mizzou football, and the regular campaign doesn’t even begin until next month.
Barry Odom faces an uphill climb in Year 1 as a Division I head coach. His Tigers, though members of the vulnerable SEC East, are viewed accordingly by handicappers. Online sports book Bovaa.lv projects MU for 6.5 wins. Reaching that figure would actually require a better showing than what the program mustered last season.
In Gary Pinkel’s final go-around at the helm, Missouri went a disappointing 5-7. Injuries to key personnel, a multitude of quarterback concerns and off-field drama that attracted many a national news outlet all contributed to a step back in the standings.
Apparently, however, controversy simply continues to find Columbia. On Wednesday, Odom dismissed Harold Brantley (academic reasons) and Walter Brady (violation of team rules), two instrumental cogs on the D-line. Brantley had been recovering from a severe automobile accident, while Brady registered seven sacks as a freshman.
Those losses could prove devastating for a group that prioritizes harassing opposing signal-callers as much as any school in the country. Charles Harris, Josh Augusta and Rickey Hatley will keep causing disruption up front, but what does the fall hold for tackle Terry Beckner Jr.? The sophomore blue-chipper tore his ACL and MCL on Nov. 14, and may experience mobility issues in the early going.
Luckily, new coordinator DeMontie Cross inherits a veteran linebacking corps. Despite Kentrell Brothers’ departure, the second level remains one of the Tigers’ greatest strengths. Senior Michael Scherer brings a sideline-to-sideline range and quintessential tackling technique. Donavin Newsom and Eric Beisel are highly touted, too.
In the secondary, Aarion Penton and safety Anthony Sherrils embody rock-solid options. The duo combined for 14 passes defended and two forced fumbles in 2015. Considering the relative lack of upper-echelon QBs across the conference, Mizzou should feel very secure in terms of the back end.
And now for the humbling part. Irrespective of guru Josh Heupel’s arrival, the offense still appears abysmal. Drew Lock’s bound to improve, having gone 2-6 as a starter last year. Unfortunately, his supporting cast includes a host of underclassmen with iffy hands. Alabama graduate transfer Chris Black needs to push J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown at wideout, or else drives promise to be halted by a flurry of drops all over again.
As for the backfield, Ish Witter heads a stable of speedy, if untested, individuals. The Tampa native boasts 619 yards on 153 career totes. He’s not the long-term solution at the position, though, so expect a heavy diet of Damarea Crockett and Trevon Walters as winter approaches.
Given the rather unheralded crew of ball carriers, the run-blocking components gain added importance. A balky back recently forced the reliable Nate Crawford out of the sport, and center Evan Boehm was snatched up by the Arizona Cardinals in April’s NFL draft. Therefore, JUCO transfer Tyler Howell and returning stalwart Alec Abeln must provide ample stability and leadership right off the bat.
Odom possesses some fine pieces, and the former MU star’s defensive acumen precedes him. Nevertheless, molding this initial cast into a cohesive unit represents a daunting challenge. Regardless of a parade of cupcakes immediately following the Tigers’ Sept. 3 opener at West Virginia, we predict major trouble in relation to the second half of the schedule – and another bowl-less December.
SATURDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: MISSOURI TIGERS UNDER 6.5 WINS