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Missouri wasn't good last year, a far cry from the teams that won back-to-back SEC titles in 2013 and 2014. Still, the Tigers finished with five wins, although four of those came from non-conference games. With last year's defensive coordinator Barry Odom stepping in as head coach, there are plenty of questions for Missouri on both sides of the football. Odom doesn't have much experience as a head coach, but at the least has experience with the team.
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The biggest question for the Tigers comes at quarterback where Drew Lock and Marvin Zanders are competing for the spot. Lock has the leg up after playing most of 2015, but he completed less than 50% of his passes to go with 4 TDs and 8 INTs. Zanders hasn't attempted a collegiate pass yet. This is for an offense that failed to reach double digits in five of its final seven games last year. The Tigers were the second-worst scoring team in the nation, scoring just 13.6 points per game.
Lock is expected to win the spot and it's hard to see him being any worse than a year ago. Receiving wise, not many jump off the page, but last year's leader returns in J'Mon Moore (29 receptions, 350 yards). The running game looked exactly the same in the spring game as they did a year ago with Ish Witter (518 yards, 4.1 yards per carry) leading the way. The Tigers averaged 3.5 yards per carry last season and they were actually under that mark in the scrimmage.
Of course, part of that has to do with the strength of the defense. Even with multiple players injured, the defense still controlled the majority of the spring game. The Tigers didn't win many games last year, but the ones they did, it was mostly due to defense. Beating up on their offense isn't a tell tale sign, but at least they didn't take a major step back.
As a positive, Missouri wasn't playing with a few of its studs in Charles Harris and Terry Beckner Jr in the spring. The biggest name for the defense is Harold Brantley, who missed all of 2015 due to a car accident. The Tigers are optimistic he'll be ready for the season and that could go a long way in making this group one of the better ones in the SEC East.
Conference wins will be hard to come by for Missouri yet again, especially if the offense continues to have trouble putting points on the board. It doesn't help that the Tigers have to travel to West Virginia in their first game either, which could put them in an early hole. The games to focus on for possible SEC wins include home meetings with Kentucky and Vanderbilt, with those games surrounding a trip to South Carolina. If Missouri can't have success in any of those contests, the five-win mark may be hard to come by.
Odom has his hands full in his first season as head coach, but at the least the Tigers should get better quarterback play. Or that's the hope. But even if that's the case, this team still has a long way to go before challenging in the SEC East again.
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2016 Missouri Tigers Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at West Virginia
Sept 10 vs. Eastern Michigan
Sept. 17 vs. Georgia
Sept. 24 vs. Delaware State
Oct. 1 at LSU
Oct. 15 at Florida
Oct. 22 vs. Middle Tennessee
Oct. 29 vs. Kentucky
Nov. 5 at South Carolina
Nov. 12 vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 19 at Tennessee
Nov. 26 vs. Arkansas
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